It was possibly the worst-kept secret in the television business, but at least now there’s no doubt about it: Katie Couric is going to ABC.
The official announcement came on Monday, as numerous reports over the weekend insisted it would. It’s a “multi-year, multi-platform” deal, according to the announcement from Disney/ABC. Simply put, Couric will “host and produce her own nationally syndicated talk show and join the ABC News team,” the carefully worded press release said.
Of course, as is customary with these things, financial details – such as how much they’re paying her – were not given. Certainly, as a producer, Couric will share in the revenue from the show – money that could prove ample if the show catches on. The announcement confirms that her former producer from NBC’s “Today” show, Jeff Zucker, will be the executive producer of this new show, which does not yet have a title.
The plan is to launch the show in fall 2012, which means they have more than a year to get it ready and sell it to stations (in fact, lining up stations to carry the show is Job 1 for any new syndication launch). The stations ABC owns have already picked it up, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
However, the press release insists that Couric will turn up on ABC as soon as this summer. And that’s a little surprising, since it was easy to assume she’d take a good part of the summer off, after making this deal and departing from CBS News. The release put it this way: She’ll “anchor specials, contribute interviews, participate in special events coverage and bring her many talents to bear on some of the most important and interesting stories of the day.”
The “most important” stories? Well, Diane Sawyer will probably have something to say about that. Maybe Barbara Walters too. Truth is, we think ABC News just got stronger by adding Couric to its stable of news superstars – female or male. What’ll be even more interesting is how much Couric will turn up on ABC News programs after her daily talk show gets under way. When that happens, she could wind up doing less work for the news division.
So how’d ABC land Couric, who was reportedly being wooed by everybody? This New York Times piece from Sunday has a ton of juicy details about how prospective deals with NBC and CBS fell by the wayside and why ABC’s bid succeeded.
The question remains: What will a Katie Couric talk show be like? Since it’s still 15 months away from its premiere, Couric, understandably, is describing the show in broad generalities. “We’d like the show to be topical and to really capture the zeitgeist of what people are talking about,” she told The Hollywood Reporter in a Monday interview.
“It will be serious at times, obviously informative and fun,” she said. “Really, a mixture of things we hope people will be interested in. It’s not going to be a news show, but we’ll be talking about the news and issues that I think people care about.”