Katie Couric is delighted that, owing to her contract to anchor the CBS evening newscast, she was not able to launch a daytime talk show until a year had passed since Oprah Winfrey stepped down as the Queen of Daytime TV.
“To be honest I’m happy to have a year grace period, and with Oprah exiting the stage I think it’s okay to for me to give some time for the landscape to settle before I jump into the fray,” Couric told TV critics attending Summer TV Press Tour 2012 in Beverly Hills.
“The timing worked really well for me.”
Couric had high praise for her new show’s exec producer Jeff Zucker, who was her exec prod. On “Today.” During a promo for the new show that aired before the interview, Zucker, who went on to run NBC Entertainment, NBC and then NBC/Universal, got almost as much screen time as Couric.
“We can finish each other’s sentences. He’s got my back. I trust him implicitly...It’s nice to have someone in your ear, when you’re doing a live format, who can think the same thing you’re thinking and almost read your mind…Jeff is so great at…getting that sweet spot, to really hit a topic — not too early, or not too late, but that sweet spot when it’s in the national consciousness.”
Her new show will have some regular features, including one called YOLO — You Only Live Once — which is kind of like a Bucket List, only about two generations younger. In the segment, she will help people fulfill some lifelong dream. Couric said her list includes being in a Broadway play — her last theatrical experience, she said, was trying out for a high school production and being cast as a deaf mute, objecting, and being demoted to the dancing bear role. She’d also like to jump from a plane and go out on a date with George Clooney.
Couric’s “Katie” premieres Sept. 10.
One critic asked the generally upbeat Couric to talk about a “the hardest time” she’d had professionally which she said, to the surprise of no one, was her time anchoring the CBS evening newscast. “Some of the criticism seemed so shallow,” she said. “Somebody didn’t like the way I was holding my hands, or the white jacket I wore after Labor Day – it was winter white, tropical wool, and it was Armani, people! It was hard for me to understand some of the vitriol that was unleashed…but it was a great character-building experience for me, and taught me to focus on the work.”
Speaking of her CBS News days, Couric said, when asked, that she had indeed invited Sarah Palin to join her on her new syndicated show. Couric famously interviewed Palin for CBS News when Palin was the GOP’s VPOTUS candidate, and raised questions about her command of national and international issues of the time.
So far, “no response,” Couric said.