NBC News is having conversations with Katie Couric about filling in for Savannah Guthrie when Guthrie goes on maternity leave during the summer. Nothing is set, and the news division also is talking to others about helping out while Guthrie’s gone, including Natalie Morales — and Meredith Vieira who had Guthrie’s job a few years ago (pre-Ann Curry) and could use the platform to help plug the launch of her daytime talk show in the fall.
Vieira’s the gal who beat Couric when Couric subbed for Robin Roberts over at ABC’s Good Morning America in April 2012. Back then, Couric was getting ready to launch her daytime talk show. After GMA announced its weeklong Couric booking two years ago, Today promoted some big “gets” — including a “surprise legend” that Monday, who turned out to be Vieira announcing she would participate in NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics in London. (NBC noted the next morning that GMA enjoyed bigger ratings two Mondays ago than it did that Monday with Couric.) Read More »
UPDATED Wednesday, 10:09 PM:After “a reconsideration” of its earlier hard stance against the Key Art for the documentary Fed Up citing ‘offensive language’, the MPAA’s advertising administration reversed its decision late Wednesday night and will now allow the art for the Radius-TWC docu without any alterations, a source close to the situation told Deadline.
So, TWC’s F U is OK. TY MPAA.
PREVIOUSLY, Wednesday, 5:07 P.M.: The MPAA has rejected the key art for Fed Up, a documentary film about the fast food and junk food industries which reveals how children and parents are being fed a bill of goods by food manufacturers. Distributor Radius-TWC has vowed to fight the decision on appeal. The poster featured here shows two M&M’s with the letters F and U next to each other. One wonders if they purposely pushed the envelope knowing that the poster might not pass muster with the MPAA, which cited the key art’s “offensive language.” Nothing like a good controversy to help marketing. Yeah, well, who cares, when the topic is about children’s health in this nation. ”If only Congress and the FDA cared as much about protecting Americans’ lives as the MPAA cares about suppressing our poster, we wouldn’t be facing the greatest health epidemic of our time,” said Radius-TWC co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego in a statement. The MPAA could not be reached for comment.
The film, which is executive produced by Katie Couric, who also narrates the film, is a Radius/TWC presentation after The Weinstein Company label acquired it this year at Sundance. It features several noteworthy people talking about sugar’s impact on the health of children. Included are former President Bill Clinton, Harvard Medical School associate professor in pediatrics Dr. David Ludwig, former FDA commissioner David Kessler, Sen. Tom Harkin, former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona, and food author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma). One of the producers of Fed Up is Laurie David, who also produced the 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary film An Inconvenient Truth.
Fed Up is described as the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see. Katie Couric narrates the documentary that focuses on the alarming and rising rate of obese children in America. Fed Up was directed by Stephanie Soechtig, and produced by Sarah Olson and Eve Marson. Along with narrating, Couric is exec producer with Laurie David, Regina Scully, Heather Reisman, and Atlas Films’ Michael Walrath and Michelle Walrath. Radius-TWC releases the film wide on May 9. Check out the trailer:
Alec Baldwin continues to leave public life, in a New York Magazine cover story called “Good-Bye Public Life” and now, in a role on one of the country’s most watched TV series. NBC made it official today that Baldwin will guest star as a controversial New York newspaper columnist, in an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU. Word of this guest gig got out earlier this month. But it wasn’t well known that Katie Couric will play herself — a TV show show host, that is — who grills Baldwin, as controversial New York newspaper columnist Jimmy MacArthur about the headline grabbing hate crime/rape case.
NBC wisely waited until Baldwin’s New York Magazine cover story came out and he was once again on the minds of the media to confirm he will play MacArthur, who questions the SVU squad’s motives during the investigation. Icing on the cake: show star Mariska Hargitay is directing — her debut.
“In our story, ‘Jimmy Mac’s’ reporting interferes with the investigation, which has a ripple effect when the case goes to trial,” EP Warren Leight explained in the announcement, adding that the chemistry between Baldwin and Hargitay “is palpable.”
Katie Couric, Summly founder Nick D’Aloisio, former New York Times tech writer David Pogue, SNL‘s Cecily Strong and Kenan Thompson, and musician John Legend joined the Yahoo CEO at her International CES keynote to tout the company’s info and entertainment offerings. “Media has long been one of Yahoo’s key strengths,” Marissa Mayer says. Couric — the recently named Global Anchor, who’s celebrating her birthday — lamented that in the digital age “at times accuracy has been a casualty of immediacy.” She vowed to uphold “core values of old-fashioned journalism” in her interviews with “anyone who we believe has an important and interesting story to tell.” D’Aloisio charted a slightly different course as he announced the Yahoo News Digest. The iPhone and iPod Touch app will provide users with two daily news summaries created from multiple sources that will be “comprehensive, effortless and complete.” Mayer also introduced Yahoo Digital Magazines, beginning with Yahoo Food promising ”immersive, bite-sized content” (was her word play intentional?) and Pogue’s Yahoo Tech. The gadget critic shouted through his presentation, during which he vowed to present tech news for ordinary people. The magazine will cover subjects that concern 85% of the population. “We have a language we’re going to speak and it’s called English” — he intends to dispense with jargon terms such as “form factor,” “price point,” and “content.” Read More »
Disney-ABC and Katie Couric made it official today, announcing that Couric’s syndicated daytime talk show will not go beyond the original two-year. “While production will continue on Katie through June 2014, we’ve mutually agreed that there will not be a third season of the show,” the two parties said in a joint statement. “We’re very proud of everyone’s contributions to making Katie the #1 new syndicated talk show of 2012-2013, and we look forward to the rest of the season.” Couric is expected to give the news to the show’s staff after today’s taping, the last before the scheduled holiday break until January. The show’s cancellation was widely expected. Launching with a lot of promise — headlined by Couric and her former Today executive producer Jeff Zucker — Katie had a rocky freshman season. After a strong opening, it slipped in the ratings. Its numbers eventually leveled off and Katie remained No. 1 in households among all freshmen for the entire season, but was running neck and neck with fellow rookie Steve Harvey, which edged Katie in the key women 25-54 demographic for the second part of the season. There has been more of the same this fall. Katie never broke through to join the upper echelon of talkers like Dr. Phil and Ellen but never tanked either. However, while ratings have been decent overall, the show didn’t do enough for its core ABC station group, posting time period declines and hurting the stations’ newscast that follow it. And Katie‘s biggest problem was its big price tag, said to be $30 million-$40 million a year.
Katie also has been struggling with its identity, with Couric, who also serves as exec producer, reportedly pushing for newsmaking interviews and more serious journalistic approach normally reserved for in-depth news programs like 60 Minutes as opposed to daytime TV’s conventional emphasis on lighter fare and celebrities. (Katie drew its largest audience with the Manti Te’o interview, which averaged almost 3.8 million viewers in January.) The search for direction was acerbated by the departure of Zucker, who had been a strong authoritative figure early on. There have been a slew of behind-the-scenes changes during Katie’s first year on the air: Zucker and co-exec producer Michael Bass left for CNN, with Michael Morrison and Ethan Nelson joining in January as executive producer and co-exec producer, respectively. Both were gone by the end of the season, along with co-executive producer Kathy Samuels and director Joseph Terry, with Rachel Miskowiec taking the reins for Season 2. Read More »
New station groups signing on to air what’s being called the biggest new syndicated entry for the fall include Dispatch, Belo, Nexstar, Bonten, Mission, Local, Citadel, Media General, Block, News Press Gazette and Sarkes Tarzian. They join NBC’s 10 O&O stations – including the country’s Top 3 markets ( WNBC in New York, KNBC in Los Angeles, and WMAQ in Chicago). Also previously signed are stations of Hearst Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group and LIN Media, among others. Produced in New York City on a set that resembles her home, the Meredith Vieira-hosted talker is a one-hour, show that will offer a blend of human interest stories, lifestyle segments, and celebrity interviews. The Meredith Vieira Show’s launch is being watched closely, as the future of the syndicated talker headlined by her Today predecessor Katie Couric is in question.
Katie Couric officially is heading online with a Yahoo deal that had been rumored for months. The Web giant announced this morning the Couric will serve as global anchor beginning in 2014, working with “a growing team of global correspondents who will report on live world events, anchor groundbreaking interviews with major newsmakers and thought leaders, and much more.” Said Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, “Katie’s depth of experience, her intellectual curiosity, and her charisma make her the perfect choice to anchor Yahoo News and the whole Yahoo Network.” Couric and Yahoo executives are still in the early stages of developing ideas for what the scope of her presence will be, with town hall meetings among a number of interactive possibilities. Why taking on an Internet gig? “I’ve done pretty much everything else in television up until now — I hosted the Today show, I anchored the CBS Evening News and I’ve done a syndicated show,” Couric told Deadline. “If you look at the next frontier where content is going and how people are consuming it, it is in the digital space.” Couric is not new to the space, having launched the @KatieCouric online interview show while at CBS News and utilizing Twitter and Facebook questions on her syndicated show. “I like the idea of unlimited real estate, doing interviews that are interesting to a global audience.”
By signing with Yahoo, Couric ended a few months early her agreement with ABC News, which was part of the Disney-ABC package for her syndicated talk show. Couric, who has done little for ABC News in the past year while working on her show, is not severing ties completely. “It is still a very symbiotic relationship,” she said. “As ABC News has said, it wouldn’t be surprising if they would utilize my content on their platform.” (ABC News has an online partnership with Yahoo.) A partnership that is not in the cards, at least for now — with CNN and Couric’s former producer Jeff Zucker. Read More »
ABC News was on the hook for a much smaller portion of Couric’s reported $20 million paycheck with the company than is the syndication operation, with which she has a deal for her daytime talk show Katie. The ABC News gig was seen by some as a vanity thing tacked to her talk show by those who have noted she’s not done much for ABC News in the past year. Anyway, it’s no longer the case that ABC News will be paying part of her paycheck.
“Katie is an incredible journalist and this was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. Thanks to the powerful association between ABC News and Yahoo we know that Katie will continue to work closely with us and welcome her on our air anytime,” an ABC News exec with knowledge of the situation told Deadline. Yes, it sounded pretty don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out to us too.
Couric’s talk show is now in its second — and, it’s been widely speculated for some time, final — season, though syndication axes don’t generally fall until after all November sweep stats are in. The show has been plagued with exec producer changes and shifts in direction since its initial good launch, and station execs are not happy with the product. Most expect the show to end its run after fulfilling its two-year commitment with the ABC Stations in May. There had been speculation that ABC might try to get another year at a lower price while preparing a replacement, but that does not appear likely. Read More »
Stephen Colbert,John Lithgow, and Katie Couric demonstrated how Today could have improved on the ratings performance of its on-air prostate exam with Steven Colbert’s November Sweeps Prostacular. “It’s no accident Today played this groundbreaking stunt during the November sweep, because Today show knows what brings in the great ratings is men in their 50′s being finger puppeted,” Colbert explained on last night’s The Colbert Report, adding, “I will not be sweeps-swept by the Today show.” Watch here: Read More »
A Barbara Walters denial — the next best thing to confirmation when reporting about The View? Having stated she was not retiring — not so long before announcing she was — and having emphatically denied a report Elisabeth Hasselbeck was leaving the show — Hasselbeck did — Walters has a slight credibility problem these days. Take this morning’s report that Katie Couric is mulling whether to replace Walters when she gives up her on-air chair on The View. Deadline reported Walters was retiring in May, just before ABC and Walters made the announcement; Walters had scoffed at earlier reports. Couric, who’s already made the move from evening news to daytime talk and is under contract at ABC parent Disney, could slip into the “serious journalist” role on The View and land in an environment more like that of Today, where she enjoyed ratings success, than her current program, which has slipped in the ratings. Disney is in second year of two-year contracts with stations to air Couric’s syndicated daytime talk show — though Katie airs on ABC O&Os in many major markets. Read More »
Don’t tinker with the Today Show lineup — fix the talent non-chemistry, the franchise’s former exec producer Jeff Zucker advised NBC today. “The key to all of those programs, and we had a tremendous amount of success for many years, is obviously the chemistry between the people who are on the show…That’s what makes or breaks these shows,” Zucker, who EP’d the show during its glory days, said while speaking at the Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech 2013 confab about his latest undertaking – CNN. “The Today Show, obviously has had a difficult year and a half – brought a lot of it [on] itself, and those are the worst kind of mistakes,” Zucker said.
“You have to have folks who people want to watch, day in and day out. I’d probably start by taking a look at that… It’s not about tinkering with the rundown, or which story you do first, or second. Those shows are about: are there people you want to watch?” Asked how to come up with the right on-air talent lineup, Zucker explained, “a lot of this is your own judgment, your gut.” The Matt Lauer/Katie Couric pairing was “something very special,” Zucker said; after Katie left, the pairing of Matt and Meredith Vieira was also “very fortunate,” he added.
Look out Katie Couric — NBCUniversal announced today it’s launching a syndicated talker starring your most successful Today show replacement to date, Meredith Vieira. The Meredith Vieira Show will debut in fall 2014. Vieira recently shot the pilot for the new series; she had begun talks with NBCU for the project shortly after she announced in January she was leaving Disney’s syndicated game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire after 11 years. Vieira, following in the footsteps of her Today predecessors Jane Pauley and Couric, is expected to do a lighter show than Pauley’s short-lived talker, or Couric’s current Disney syndicated show, playing off Vieira’s 11-year Millionaire run and her years air-traffic controlling on ABC’s gaggle show The View. No pickups were announced today, but the NBC station group has not committed to a new show to succeed freshman Jeff Probst, which did not get renewed, and may keep the 2 PM slot warm with temporary programming. Read More »
Katie Couric‘s syndicated daytime talk show will be entering its second season with an entirely new team of senior producers and a director. Two weeks after Rachel Miskowiec was brought in as new executive producer, she has made a staffing changes, with co-executive producers Kathy Samuels and Ethan Nelson as well as director Joseph Terry departing. Katie launched last fall with Jeff Zucker as executive producer and Samuels and Michael Bass as co-exec producers. Zucker and Bass have since left for CNN, with Michael Morrison and Nelson joining in January as executive producer and co-exec producer, respectively. (Matt Strauss also was bumped to co-EP then.) Morrison left late last month, replaced by Miskowiec, who is expected to install her own team.
Howard Stern got Katie Couric during his Sirius XM radio show to reveal that at some point there were “cautious overtures” from NBC about her returning to Today, where she spent 16 years. The morning show has had its share of troubles, from ratings declines to backlash over the ouster of Ann Curry. At one point before ABC signed Couric to their long-term deal, there had been discussions about her and her former Today cohort Matt Lauer reuniting for her syndicated talk show but never grew beyond that.
Jeff Zucker continues to staff up at his new CNN post, this time with a producer he’d already put in place at the Katie Couric talk show. Even though Zucker still retains ownership in Katie. A network insider confirms to Deadline that Zucker has hired his former TodayShow #2 and Katie co-executive producer Michael Bass who’ll serve as CNN senior VP reporting to Zucker. The NYT first reported the move. The formal greenlight for Katie‘s second season came just days after its original executive producer Zucker left to run CNN. Zucker earlier hired another Today Show alum - Allison Gollust whom he installed as NBCUniversal VP Corporate Communications when he was head there and in March as SVP Communications for CNN Worldwide.
The second “big get” interview in as many weeks has landed outside the broadcast networks’ news divisions, once the go-to place for most figures at the center of a controversy. Katie Couric will conduct the first on-camera interview with Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o and his parents since the tragic story of Te’o's girlfriend was exposed as a fraud. (The athlete did an off-camera interview with ESPN on Friday). The interview will air Thursday on Couric’s syndicated talk show. Previews for the chat will air on ABC News platforms, Good Morning America, World News and Nightline. Earlier this week, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on her cable network OWN.
I’ve learned that Disney-ABC Domestic Television is finalizing a deal with Michael Morrison to join Katie Couric‘s freshman talk show Katie as executive producer. I hear the hire will be announced to the staff of the show on Thursday. Morrison will take over showrunner responsibilities from departing executive producer Jeff Zucker, who co-owns the show with Couric. Morrison’s appointment allows continuity as Zucker is slated to leave for his new job as president of CNN Worldwide at the beginning of next month.
In anticipation of Zucker’s exit, Disney-ABC began quietly meeting with potential candidates to succeed Zucker at the helm of the show in October. When Zucker’s appointment at CNN was announced at the end of last month, the search accelerated and was quickly narrowed to several candidates with the goal to have someone in place by the end of the year. On Katie, Morrison joins Zucker’s lieutenants on the show: co-executive producers Michael Bass and Kathy Samuels. Read More »
Jeff Zucker could not have asked for better timing — on the morning his appointment as president of CNN Worldwide was announced, the latest ratings for his syndicated show Katie showed the talker hitting all-time highs. For the week of November 12, Katie Couric‘s daytime talk show drew a 2.1 household rating and 2.7 million viewers, its best weekly numbers ever and up 17% week-to-week in both categories. In women 25-54 (1.1 rating), Katie tied its best-ever weekly rating. Zucker and Couric co-own the show, on which Zucker has served as executive producer/showrunner. “I’m very excited that Jeff has such a wonderful opportunity at CNN and equally excited for CNN,” Couric said today. “I’m also grateful that Jeff has been so instrumental in getting our show off to such a strong start and look forward to working with the fantastic staff we’ve assembled and building on the strong foundation we’ve created.”
That staff includes Zucker’s lieutenants on the show: co-executive producers Michael Bass and Kathy Samuels. In anticipation of Zucker’s exit, Zucker, Couric and the company behind Katie, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, have been quietly meeting with potential candidates to succeed Zucker at the helm of the show. Now that Zucker’s departure is certain, the search is expected to pick up steam and the expectation is to have someone in place by the end of the year, providing a smooth transition as Zucker is slated to leave the show in early January. Read More »