updated 01/17/2011 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 01/17/2011 AT 01:00 AM EST
Famous for his blunt criticism as a judge on America's Got Talent, Morgan, 45, is characteristically direct about life in Hollywood: "It's an incredibly shallow place where success is based on ratings," he says. "You're either a hit or you're not." He loves cycling "from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach" and hanging out at Hollywood hot spots, but grumbles, "I find the constant sunshine boring!"
"I love the energy on the streets and the attitude," says Morgan, who primarily calls Manhattan home while preparing to launch his talk show on Jan. 17. His favorite piece of the Big Apple? "Central Park is incredibly important and romantic," he says. "I like going on a boat around the lake, coming to the Boathouse [restaurant] and having a nice bottle of French wine. You can't beat that."
His hometown may feel more "violent" than it once did, but the former newspaper editor gushes nonetheless, "London is magical." While he misses his wife, Celia Walden, and kids from a previous marriage, Spencer, 17, Stanley, 13, and Albert, 10, who have stayed overseas, Morgan is also homesick for British culture. "I miss cricket and pubs," he says. "And I don't have tea often in America-the milk tastes different!"