I wrote this on March 16th, 2011:
What’s happening with Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News? Couric’s contract ends on June 4th, and everyone’s speculating about what will occur: she’ll stay, she’ll go, she’s going to become the next Oprah. Well, it turns out that possibly all of that is true.
Right now, Couric is awaiting offers from everyone: CBS, ABC, and even NBC, her old stomping grounds. Syndication companies want her for her own afternoon talk show, as well. So what’s the answer? I’m told that Katie is probably not going to be doing the news next September, whatever happens. I always said the Evening News was too confining for her. Couric’s forte is interviews, which is why her program shines now when she has almost anyone sitting next to her.
The feeling is that CBS will offer Couric a great package: leave the news, stay with “60 Minutes,” be available for 2012 election coverage, and get a rich syndication deal for that afternoon talk show. Since Les Moonves very wrongly sacked both “As the World Turns” and “Guiding Light,” the network has a lot of real estate in the afternoon. “The Talk” is horrendous, but Moonves could build on it by adding Katie to the lineup in major markets. In syndication, Couric wouldn’t be confined to CBS either. She’d be on the best deal channel in every location. And in the year leading up to her September 2012 talk show launch she could be scoring big political interviews.
But there’s a catch: CBS has to find someone to replace Couric on the Evening News. While Harry Smith is always my first choice, it’s doubtful that CBS will go there again. Scott Pelley? A tad boring. Indeed, we’d all be hard pressed to find someone home grown at CBS News who could take over for Couric. The solution may be to extend her contract for one or two years so that Moonves, et al. can find someone to take over the reins.