Has Katie Couric overplayed her hand?
Couric’s options for a talkshow pact narrowed Wednesday as word surfaced that CBS has pulled its offer to produce a syndie yakker with Couric, who is about to ankle as anchor of “The CBS Evening News.” That leaves ABC as the last standing suitor, after NBC and Warner Bros. pulled out of the running last month.
There was speculation that to make room for a Couric show, ABC would take the elaborate step of giving back an hour of the network’s daytime sked to its affiliates in order to allow its O&Os to commit to the show, which would then be syndicated in other markets by the Mouse. That scenario could not immediately be confirmed. (Most top Disney TV execs were ensconced in pilot screenings on Wednesday.)
Talk of the Alphabet making such a move comes weeks after ABC announced plans to fold its daytime soaps, “All My Children” and “One Life to Live,” in favor of two unscripted skeins. Couric’s show could possibly replace one of the new shows, or it could be eyed for the early afternoon slot now held by sudser “General Hospital.”
Couric’s camp painted CBS’ move as a negotiating ploy. But sources close to the situation said the Eye cooled on the deal after surmising that Couric’s focus was more on newsmaker-type interviews rather than the usual fodder of daytime TV. There was also concern that her intent to maintain a presence in traditional news coverage called into question her commitment to making a go of a daytime strip. And there’s no doubt Couric’s relations with the new regime at CBS News are chilly at best.
CBS still has a key hedge in the Couric situation as it has the right to match any competitive offer through June 4.
Reps for CBS, Couric and ABC declined comment.