CBS unveiled some of its Katie Couric plans on Wednesday, while NBC continued its courtship of Meredith Vieira.
Starting in September, Couric will become anchor and managing editor of “The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.”
She will remain with NBC’s “Today” until her contract expires at the end of May. She’ll take vacation during the summer and may host special programming and file stories for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
When she does assume the anchor’s chair, she will do so alone, although CBS execs said Bob Schieffer will remain part of the broadcast as chief Washington correspondent and will contribute to the network’s election coverage.
Couric announced her departure on “The Today Show” in typical morning show fashion.
“I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that after listening to my heart and my gut, two things that have served me well in the past, I’ve decided I’ll be leaving ‘Today’ at the end of May,” she said.
Alluding to a monthlong appreciation of the show’s longest-serving host, co-anchor Matt Lauer responded, “We’re going to have a lot of fun and relive a lot of good moments.”
After the weather, Al Roker said, “Hell just froze over!”
For all the potential animus the transfer of talent between competing networks can entail, talks between NBC and CBS seemed to be cordial.
NBC allowed Couric and her agent to commence talks with CBS more than a month before her contract permitted, a move described by an Eye exec as “gracious.”
Couric saw the CBS job as an opportunity to fulfill a personal ambition, but couldn’t make up her mind to make the leap until face-to-face talks with the Eye over the past two weeks.
With Couric, CBS has its permanent “Evening News” team in place, but who will replace Couric on “Today” remains an open question.
Peacock sources said the net was very close to landing ABC’s Vieira, whom they view as the kind of talent who could stabilize the show and ensure its dominance.
In memos to NBC staff on Wednesday morning, both topper Jeff Zucker and “Today” exec producer Jim Bell indicated the net was very close to an announcement on Couric’s replacement.
The appointment of Vieira would cast uncertainty on the future of longtime “Today” news anchor Ann Curry, who is also on the staff of “Dateline,” and on Campbell Brown, who has held down the third hour of “Today” and is considered a co-anchor-in-training.