“I haven’t done this for a while,” said Katie Couric, looking enviably youthful and lovely — and just a trifle nervous — as she surveyed the roomful of television writers and critics assembled to hear her discuss her upcoming ABC talk show, Katie.
Couric began by giving props to singer Sheryl Crow who wrote and performed Katie‘s peppy theme song which accompanied the video clip that preceded Couric taking the stage. “Sheryl’s someone who I admire a great deal and has experienced a lot in her life and is enormously talented,” she said, “so I was absolutely thrilled when she said she would be willing to sit down with me and talk about it and then put pen to paper.”
And, says Couric, life experiences — predominately those of women, and especially mature women — are what she hopes will form Katie’s axis.
“We’ll be talking about things as varied as the impact of technology on our relationships, on our children; the best way to care for an aging parent,” Couric said. “A quarter of the adult population in this country is now caring for an aging parent, and I think there are a lot of people who need guidance and help in that. It may be dating in your 40s and 50s — something that I can relate to.”
But she’s open to covering anything that might capture her attention — and that of her audience.
“One of the exciting things for me about doing the show is I’m going to be able to flex all my muscles,” Couric explained. “You know, I’ve been in television news, I’m sorry to say, 33 years at this point in time. And I think that I’ve done such a variety of stories through the years. Some lighthearted stories, some fun stories, some celebrity‑driven stories. And then I’ve done very serious stories. I feel as if my portfolio is really varied. So I pride myself on being able to use the right tone and the right approach and to be able to calibrate that approach depending on who I’m interviewing or the topic that I’m dealing with on any given day. ”
Asked how Katie would handle issues like the recent Aurora theater shootings, Couric said she would have no problem donning her journalist hat and addressing serious, current-events-based subject matter on a deeper — and extended — level. “We would take a news story like that and all the questions that people have had since it occurred and take a closer look,” she said.
And, given that the show will debut in the heart of the presidential election season, she won’t shy away from politics either — having already extended an invitation to President Obama and Mitt Romney to appear on the show, with or without their families.
“And yes,” she adds. “I have invited Sarah Palin to come on the show as well.”
Here’s more from Katie:
• On working again with Jeff Zucker, her longtime producer on the Today show:
“I feel like we have very similar sensibilities. We’ve worked so closely together for so many years that we can finish each other’s sentences. And I think, you know, he’s got my back. I think I trust him implicitly. He gave me a real sense of security. ”
• On what to expect from the show’s “work in progress” format:
“You’ll see recurring franchises on the show. I think we’re going to be doing something called “Women Who Should Be Famous,” where we’ll be able to spotlight some of these remarkable women who are doing extraordinary things and not getting much attention for those things.”
“And I’m doing this thing called YOLO, which all the young people in social media mocked when I used that, because they thought that I didn’t know anything about Drake. So I sent them a link to my interview with Drake when I did a web show on CBS. But for you guys who don’t know, that’s You Only Live Once — which is a kind of a modern twist on the notion of a bucket list. So I’m going to be doing some of the things that I’ve always wanted to do, sort of fulfilling my fantasies.”
• On assembling said bucket list for “Katie” … and for Katie.
“I’d like to star in a Broadway musical, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Because when I auditioned for my high school musical Carnival, they cast me actually as a deaf mute. … I’d like to go out with George Clooney if you can arrange that.”
• On the often “shallow” criticism she endured during her time on CBS Evening News:
“Somebody [said] they didn’t like the way I was holding my hands doing the news or they didn’t like the white jacket that I wore after Labor Day, God forbid. And I would always say, “It was winter white, it was tropical-weight wool, and it was Armani, people!”
“But I think, also, it was a really great character‑building experience for me and it taught me to focus on the work and to continue to doing the very best job I could. And as a result, I’m really proud of the work that I did during my five years at CBS.”
• On the prospect of returning to a morning news show at some point:
“You kind of have to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. I look back on my years at the Today show with such fondness and such great memories, but I’m happy to pass the baton — since we’re in the Olympic mode — to someone else.”
Katie premieres Sept. 10 on ABC.
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