NBC News is having conversations with Katie Couric about filling in for Savannah Guthrie when Guthrie goes on maternity leave during the summer. Nothing is set, and the news division also is talking to others about helping out while Guthrie’s gone, including Natalie Morales — and Meredith Vieira who had Guthrie’s job a few years ago (pre-Ann Curry) and could use the platform to help plug the launch of her daytime talk show in the fall.
Vieira’s the gal who beat Couric when Couric subbed for Robin Roberts over at ABC’s Good Morning America in April 2012. Back then, Couric was getting ready to launch her daytime talk show. After GMA announced its weeklong Couric booking two years ago, Today promoted some big “gets” — including a “surprise legend” that Monday, who turned out to be Vieira announcing she would participate in NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics in London. (NBC noted the next morning that GMA enjoyed bigger ratings two Mondays ago than it did that Monday with Couric.)
During that weeklong Couric sub-stunt on GMA (during which Couric was expected to snap Today’s 16-year-plus weekly winning streak), Today went out and signed someone to guest host on its show who shared an interest in taking down Katie. They came up with Sarah Palin, who was booked as guest host on Couric’s second GMA day. You remember Palin — the vice presidential candidate who was publicly humiliated when Couric interviewed her on CBS’ evening newscast and asked what newspapers she reads to stay informed, and Palin did not name a single newspaper.
Word that NBC News was talking to current Yahoo global anchor Couric, however casually, about subbing for Guthrie had industry pundits scratching their heads today. If Couric pops a bigger number than the show has been averaging with Guthrie, expect press coverage pondering who orchestrated this experiment and whether it is part of a campaign to replace Guthrie. Maybe Matt Lauer‘s name will come up — he’s just finished denying reports he orchestrated Ann Curry‘s exit as his co-host. (Last time Couric subbed on Today for a pregnant co-anchor — Deborah Norville — Couric wound up replacing Norville and becoming America’s Morning Infotainment Show Sweetheart for 15 years. She left Today in ’06 to become anchor of CBS Evening News.
“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,” an NBC rep told Deadline, as they’d been telling everyone who asked in response to this morning’s New York Post report, which suggested the arrangement could turn into something longer-term if Couric causes ratings to jump.