Television host Katie Couric fears her own talk show “Katie” is being “dumbed down,” according to a published report Wednesday.
The New York Daily News says Couric’s syndicated daytime show will become “gossip-centric” in its second season, since a behind-the-scenes shakeup replaced executive producer Michael Morrison with “The Tyra Banks Show” executive producer Rachel Miskowiec.
A source told the paper that Couric, the co-executive producer for the program, is not thrilled with being “dumbed down,” and was looking to quit the program after its first season.
The arrival of Miskowiec may have changed that, promising a balance between hard news and softer fluff.
“If there is one thing Katie hates more than being called ‘perky,’ it’s being called ‘tabloid,'” the source told the Daily News. “She thinks of herself as a serious journalist, covering stories that make a difference. She’s fighting this.”
Couric has made no secret she wants to be taken seriously, and has reportedly poked fun at America’s celebrity obsession.
“Katie comes from a world of TV journalists that think appealing to the lowest common denominator – celebrity – is cheap,” the source said. “Jerry Springer-type TV is not something she is interested in. Anderson Cooper vowed to do the same. He hated covering gossip. He even refused to say the name ‘Paris Hilton’ on TV, and look what happened to his daytime TV show – it got canceled.”
The Daily News says the new plan for “Katie” includes a good measure of gossip, fashion and segments on pop culture, with “gorgeous talking heads” dropping by.
While that may not be Couric’s cup of tea, the source indicated: “She’s also got brains, so for the show to work, she needs to do it.”
The source noted a bit of irony, since Couric herself apparently likes gossip once the cameras are off.
“She knows who is dating who, who is looking for a new job, everything. She reads celebrity websites and can name all of Brad and Angie’s kids, yet on camera it just makes her cringe,” the source laughs. “She is worried about what Matt Lauer and Diane Sawyer will think. She worked hard to be taken seriously.”
Last month, there were reports Couric may not see her current show on the air before it reaches a third season.
The New York Post indicated behind the scenes of “Katie,” sources say “the show has weathered drama since the departure of executive producer Jeff Zucker, creating a ‘very stressful’ situation with ‘staffing weirdness’ and ‘no one making decisions.'”
In 2011, as news spread that Couric would be departing as anchor of the CBS Evening News less than five years after becoming the first woman to solely helm a network TV evening newscast, radio giant Rush Limbaugh said Couric simply “destroyed” the network when it comes to viewership.
“I’m sorry, Katie, but you know facts are facts,” Limbaugh said at the time. “You guys might own the narrative, but we have the facts here, and ‘CBS Evening News’ ratings are the lowest in history. And don’t think if that ever happened to my ratings, people would report that. I’m sure the stories are already written. … The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, that she destroyed it. The network news ratings for CBS just plummeted.”
Before anchoring at CBS, Couric was the popular co-host of NBC’s “Today” show.
In 2007, a poll of America Online users found 8 in 10 respondents say the move by the former “Today” co-host to CBS was a bad decision for both Couric and the Tiffany Network.
With some 300,000 votes in the unscientific survey, 82 percent responded “No” when asked “Was switching to CBS a good move for Couric?” and 78 percent also answered in the negative when asked, “Was choosing Couric a good move for CBS?”
More than a thousand personal comments were posted underneath the survey, with one reader referring to her as a “balloon animal:”
- “Katie is not a journalist or a reporter. She is a speck of fluff blowing on the breath of her handlers. She is vacuous and inane. An overly submissive chimp on crack. … I was an avid watcher of the CBS news and now must look elsewhere for actual news delivered by an actual news organization and a real news anchor. It has nothing to do with her being a woman. It’s because Katie Couric has all of the substance of a balloon animal, and CBS has gone out of its way to demonstrate to me and the rest of the world that hard-hitting news reporting is not a priority to them in the least. Give her a cup of coffee and a silly costume to wear and let her lob her softballs on some joke of a morning show where she belongs.” (wtown6)