Katie Couric clocked 15 years on the Today show and five years behind the desk at CBS Evening News. For her new foray into daytime television she says she's going to put all those years of experience to good use.
"One of the exciting things for me about doing the show is I'm going to be able to flex all my muscles," Couric, 55, told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association fall TV previews. "I hope that people expect me to have the ability to tackle a lot of subjects well."
Katie, premiering in syndication on Sept. 10, is Couric's first permanent gig since she left the CBS Evening News in 2011 after just five years. Couric called the beginning of her tenure there as the more difficult point in her professional career. "Some of the criticism seemed so shallow," she said. "It was sort of difficult for me to understand some of the vitriol that was unleashed."
Couric shared sympathies with former co-worker Ann Curry, who was abruptly replaced on Today earlier this month after 15 years with the program. "I think that she'll go on to do great things," Couric said. "My heart was breaking for her that morning."
After six years away from Today, Couric knows her new timeslot will be a big adjustment. "I think that probably there's a need to re-familiarize myself and sort of who I am in terms of being natural, spontaneous interactive," she said. "When I was on the evening news, I didn't have the opportunity to show those sides of myself."
Couric's new daytime offering comes a year after Oprah Winfrey's daytime show left the airwaves — and many new entries tried to replace the longtime daytime queen. "With Oprah exiting the stage, it's OK to give some time for the landscape to settle before I jumped into the fray," Couric said. "I thought the timing actually worked really well for me."
Couric is happy to fill the void left by Winfrey, but one show she doesn't hope to replace is ABC's only remaining daytime soap, General Hospital, which was saved from execution when ABC instead axed the daytime self-improvement-themed talk show, The Revolution. "[Soap operas] fill a need for a lot of people. I think they can peacefully co-exist with other offerings on daytime television," Couric said. "They've been around a long time. They're an institution."
Broadcasting in front of a live studio audience, Couric says Katie will feature segments described as "smart with heart." Two possible franchises will be "Women Who Should Be Famous" and "YOLO" (short for "you only live once"), which will show Couric doing things she has always wanted to do, and also giving viewers an opportunity to check off things from their bucket lists. What's on Couric's bucket list? A date with George Clooney, sky-diving, and starring in a Broadway musical despite being cast as a deaf-mute in her high school musical. (Don't worry, she was later recast as a dancing bear).
Couric also said that she has invited both Presidential candidates President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and their families onto her show, as well as former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who Couric famously interviewed less than two months before the 2008 election. She hasn't heard back yet.
Katie premieres on Sept. 10. Check your local listings for time and station.