Now Katie Couric’s talking to ABC. But what the network might have available for her remains an open question.
Couric, who’s reportedly weighing her options as her contract with “CBS Evening News” nears its expiration date, met last month with the newly installed president of ABC News, Ben Sherwood, according to this story in the New York Post. The story indicated the meeting was exploratory, with the two discussing what Couric might want to do in the next phase of her career.
The story also emphasized that “ABC has no natural openings for Couric right now.” What that means is, the network has no plans, at least at present, to build a talk show around her, or use her on its newscasts such as “World News” (which is scoring healthy ratings with Diane Sawyer at the helm) or “Nightline.”
Last week, The Hollywood Reporter said Couric has now entered a period of time – stipulated in her CBS contract – in which she is allowed to meet with other parties to discuss future plans. And whenever that happens, you begin to see stories in the press about various meetings with representatives from other networks – often lunches or dinners in high-profile places where the entire object is to be seen and generate gossip that competing companies are warring over the personality at the center of the chatter.
Couric’s current contract with CBS News, which pays her a reported $15 million a year, is up in June. She’s been reportedly considering two choices. One is launching a syndicated daytime talk show in September 2012 with former NBC President Jeff Zucker at the helm, in the belief that Oprah Winfrey’s exit from the daytime syndication scene this year will create an opportunity for Couric (or some comparably well-known TV personality) to make a splash on weekday afternoons. The other choice is said to be re-upping with CBS, but at a reduced salary.
Why the reduction? For two reasons, according to conventional wisdom: Network news economics being what it is these days, CBS wants to hold the line on star salaries. In addition, The “CBS Evening News,” with Couric as anchor, is still mired in third place behind NBC and ABC – which means Couric hasn’t exactly earned a raise. Of course, this is all according to outside observers; CBS hasn’t said a thing about whether it seeks to renew its relationship with Couric or cut her loose.
One report predicted Couric would announce her own decision around April 12, the day her new book, “The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons From Extraordinary Lives,” is being released and she’ll likely be appearing in a round of TV interviews to promote it.