Katie Couric turns on charm at NATPE

Jeff Zucker, host talk up syndie yakker at confab

Amid a charm offensive at the NATPE confab, Katie Couric and Jeff Zucker seemed to be enjoying each other’s company as much as the balmy weather in Miami on Monday.

Disney-ABC Domestic TV’s syndie yakker “Katie,” starring the former and produced by the latter, has been sold in 93% of the country, so at this point their priorities are to get station managers excited about the show bowing in the fall.

“I’m shaking babies and kissing hands,” said Zucker, the former NBCUniversal topper at the show’s NATPE suite in the Fontainebleau Resort.

“Shaken-baby syndrome will be our first show,” deadpanned Couric.

While Couric is part of the ABC News team in addition to her duties on “Katie,” she said the new talkshow is far and away her biggest priority. “I think once this show starts, this will obviously take precedent,” she told Variety. “I’m happy to contribute when I can and sometimes repurpose things — maybe interviews that I’m doing on my show — and promote them on other ABC properties, but that’s still being worked out, because I think it’s really going to take my full time and attention.”

As details are settled, Disney-ABC is hoping the show will find a natural home as a strong afternoon lead-in to local news programs. Couric said she’s anxious to get back in the driver’s seat on a show with more person-to-person contact on camera. “As much as I appreciated and enjoyed doing the evening news (on CBS), I really felt like I missed the connection I had every day with the viewers,” she said. “(When I was at ‘Today’) people used to come up to me and say, ‘I feel like I know you,’ and I’d say, ‘Well, you do!'”

The pair said the show will incorporate social media as much as possible. “Being a syndicated show that airs in different time zones makes it a little trickier, but you can certainly use all the different digital tools to incorporate viewers’ questions and responses and thoughts, although perhaps not 100% in real time,” Zucker said; Couric said they’ll try to get as close as possible.

Zucker, too, is anxious to get back to the daily grind. “I’ve told a lot of people I spent the first half of my career as a producer and the second half as an executive, and the first half was more fun,” he said.