According to multiple reports, Katie Couric and ABC will finally unveil the former CBS Evening News anchor's new daytime talk show for the network on Monday. Couric's signed-off as anchor of the telecast May 19th, weeks before her original five-year contract with the network was set to expire.
The New York Post's Michael Shain says the news will come via "a lunch-hour announcement," timing that just so happens to coincide with Scott Pelley's debut as Couric's replacement on the CBS Evening News.
In the New York Times, TV writer Bill Carter has a fascinating tick-tock account of how the Couric-to-ABC move transpired. Some of the more fascinating details
- ABC arrived late to the Couric sweepstakes Carter reports that Couric and agent Alan Berger huddled with NBC executives February 8 for an "off the radar" meeting at the St. Regis Hotel, ABC was "not even a serious contender" for Couric's services, and only started making "a serious push" for Couric in March. in the talks in March. "After initially offering Ms. Couric only a network-based show in the early afternoon," writes Carter, "ABC and its president, Anne Sweeney, sweetened the offer with a continuing role in the news division.
- CBS made "an impressive push" to keep Couric, despite her inability to prop up the flagging ratings for the Evening News. But according to Carter, they wanted her "focus on the syndicated show, not a continuing role with its news division," and proposed a deal that wouldn't let her continue working for 60 Minutes once the new program premiered. At ABC, she'll reprotedly contribute to Nightline and the evening newscast.
- NBC didn't make an offer even though, according to Couric's side, the network had "made a strong effort to woo her" (During the meeting at the St. Regis, networks brass reportedly showed her a "Power Point presentation of the virtues of its syndication proposal and a video urging Ms. Couric to 'come home to NBC'") Carter says NBC "emphasized privately that their internal research showed her to be too unpopular" and was turned off by "excessive demands," including an insistence that affiliates clear the 4 p.m. hour for her.
- Jeff Zucker's involvement didn't jinx the deal Couric made it clear from the start that the former NBC executive would be her "full partner in the syndicated show, both on the production and business side," but his presence apparently had no impact on CBS and NBC's inability to close a deal.
- She's going to make lots of money How much exactly is still unknown, since the terms haven't been announced. Carter puts her. "We all know what we’re looking at with a successful syndicated show," says a source. "$100 million to $300 million a year." Since she'll have ownership rights, explains Carter, her takehome pay "could be tens of millions of dollars." Couric, for her part, says she just wants to be a "utility player" at the network.