Who would you rather watch — Sarah Palin or Katie Couric?
That appears to be the choice being presented this week as Couric returns to morning TV as a guest-host on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and Palin guest-hosts the Tuesday edition of Couric’s old show, “The Today Show” on NBC.
The Palin-Couric face-off is just one facet of what’s shaping up to be a very competitive week on morning network television, thanks mainly to ABC’s announcement last week that Couric will sub for Robin Roberts on “GMA” all week starting Monday (April 2).
The prospect of their former star hosting the show that is their nearest rival in morning TV apparently lit a fire under the producers of “The Today Show.” They announced over the weekend that Palin would guest-host their show on Tuesday — setting up a Couric-Palin face-off. Then on Sunday, “Today” executive producer Jim Bell tweeted this tantalizing teaser about Tuesday’s show: “Tuesday morning live on the TODAY show in Studio 1A, Ryan Seacrest will make a big NBC announcement.”
Seacrest has been rumored in recent months to be maneuvering for a job on “The Today Show,” with the rumors even going so far as to suggest he would replace Matt Lauer. What will Seacrest announce on Tuesday? We’ll try and find out, then tell you, before then.
Meanwhile, the Palin announcement was posted here — on the “Today” show Web site. The item, previewing the week ahead, also teased: “A surprise legend will return to the broadcast Monday morning” — a not-so-subtle salvo at Couric.
Who could it be? That depends on your own personal definition of the word “legend.” Maybe they’re referring to a former “Today Show” star such as Bryant Gumbel or Jane Pauley, but if not either of them, then who? Meredith Vieira?
Meanwhile, on the lower-rated “CBS This Morning,” the week starts off with a guest most observers figured would turn up on the reconfigured morning show some time or another — Oprah Winfrey. That’s because the Big O’s best friend, Gayle King, is one of the three co-anchors of the CBS morning show. And if she couldn’t get Oprah, who could?
Moreover, Oprah’s in New York this week with a gaggle of others from the Discovery-owned networks who are scheduled to announce new shows at the company’s “upfront” presentation to ad agencies on Thursday.
So, to sum up: It’s Katie on ABC vs. Oprah on CBS Monday morning, and Couric (on ABC) vs. Sarah Palin on NBC on Tuesday. All three morning shows start at 7 a.m. (6c).