The New York Post reported this week that Couric “is in preliminary talks” to fill in as co-host alongside Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today Show” when Savannah Guthrie, who is five months pregnant, goes on maternity leave.
A source confirms to Business Insider that Couric is, indeed, having such conversations with the network to return to the morning show she co-anchored with Lauer from 1991-2006.
“The reports are true that they would take her back,” our source reveals. “At NBC, they need something stunty/big for that time, which bringing Katie back would be.”
“From Katie’s side,” the source continued, “She would like to maintain a TV presence. With her ABC talk show no longer, that means no ABC, no CBS [where she anchored “Evening News” from 2006-2011], no CNN [which Jeff Zucker left producing her talk show to run] — NBC is one of the only networks left for her.”
“Katie would love for an NBC reunion to happen,” adds the source. “It’s the last place where she was a star, and as strong as the Yahoo deal is, she wants to stay on television.”
In a recent Yahoo News promotional video, Couric explains that come June, she will be interviewing “politicians, thought leaders, cultural icons, and tech titans” for the site. But so far, her interviews with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Defence Secretary Robert Gates have debuted to little fan fair and are buried on Yahoo’s site.
Yahoo has a partnership with ABC News, but “Couric’s interviews aren’t covered by the deal, raising the question of whether a deal with Couric could also involve her Yahoo work,” notes The Post.
Couric’s ABC talk show, “Katie,” syndicated through Disney’s Buena Vista, ends in June, which means her Yahoo interviews would be free to appear on other networks, such as NBC.
If Couric filled in while Guthrie was on maternity leave, it could also act as a test to see if there could turn into a recurring role for her in the future, even after Guthrie returns.
Ironically, Couric initially got her start on “Today” in 1991 when she sat in for Deborah Norville while Norville left for maternity leave and never returned.
And while Guthrie is reportedly cozying up to the idea of Couric temporarily replacing her, even having lunch with Couric recently, “Today” correspondents Natalie Morales and Tamron Hall are feeling slighted by the idea of a newcomer.
“You already have two seasoned pros that are a part of the show, ready, willing, and able to step up for Savannah. Yet, executive producers are considering offering Katie or Meredith Viera the opportunity to fill in for Savannah when she goes out on maternity leave,” an insider told RadarOnline.
“It’s really a step backwards for the show,” the source insisted. “‘Today’ weekend co-hosts Ericka Hill and Jenna Wolfe could also be utilized. Why waste the money when there is already so much talent available that are already getting paid?”
An NBC spokeswoman said in a statement: “With the ‘Today’ show in a good place, we are blessed with great talent and many options to temporarily fill Savannah’s chair while she’s on leave, but there’s no plan yet. Stay tuned.”
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