Broadcasting & Cable magazine's cover story this week was on Katie Couric and her new afternoon talk show (not arriving until next autumn). Her longtime NBC producer and friend Jeff Zucker, axed by NBC in the Comcast merger, is now helping her put the show together. But when asked if Couric was destined to be a failure in the evening news, where the gummy smiles and perky trills aren't in great demand, Zucker tried to say yes in the most diplomatic terms:
B&C: Did you think she was going to end up doing this?
ZUCKER: I thought it was the most likely scenario for her because I think this genre can best utilize her talents. It's the right move for her at the right time. She did the Today show incredibly successfully for 15 years, she did the Evening News for five. Her skill set, her personality, and her interests are best suited for a show where she can be herself.
B&C: Was she playing out of position at CBS?
ZUCKER: I think this will better utilize her talents.
That, coming from a television executive, is very candid, but something everyone knew before the experiment began. Anyone who saw Couric try to anchor the NBC Nightly News knew it wasn't going to work. The interview also played around with Zucker running for Congress someday (a liberal Democrat, obviously, working in the liberal media):
B&C: What do you want to do after you get Katie's show off the ground? Is this politics thing all just BS?
ZUCKER: No. I'm interested in politics.
B&C: What does that mean?
ZUCKER: I don't know. I don't know if I want to go into politics. The guy who launched Jerry Springer just got elected to Congress [Bob Turner in NY-9], so maybe we could start a trend.