Katie Couric to Staff: Big Gets, No Psychics
Disney-ABC hires a new executive to help steer the daytime talk show, which has seen ratings boosts after newsy segments like the Manti Te'o and Sue Paterno interviews.
This story first appeared in the March 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
Changes are afoot at Katie.
Disney-ABC quietly has brought in Patrick Ignozzi, a well-regarded senior producer at The View, to help steer Katie Couric's daytime show. There was no official announcement; Ignozzi is now vp programming at ABC’s daytime group, which also includes The View and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. But insiders say a major focus for Ignozzi will be Katie. He’ll be working closely with Abra Potkin, who was named senior vp East Coast programming and development when Disney-ABC formed a new daytime unit in December 2011. According to sources, she befriended Couric when both were at CBS; Potkin was a producer at CBS News before jumping to CBS Paramount Domestic Television.
The issue, say insiders, is balancing the newsy segments with the fluffier staples of daytime and Couric’s increasing discomfort with the latter. Her interviews with newsmakers (Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, Joe Paterno's widow Sue Paterno, music mogul Clive Davis) have earned her praise and ratings. The Jan. 24 Te'o get lured nearly 3.8 million viewers, Katie's most-watched episode.
And Katie is daytime's top new talk show, averaging a 1.9 household rating and 2.5 million viewers. But expectations are high, given the show's cost and auspices. Insiders feel the show is hitting its stride. And sources tell THR that Couric held a staff meeting Feb. 22 during which she stressed that she would not compromise her journalistic brand and that she wants to have fun but also do meaningful work.
So, presumably, no more interviews with psychics.
It was a welcome move for staffers who feel that Potkin and executive producer Michael Morrison -- who joined in January. ostensibly as Jeff Zucker's replacement -- haven't charted a clear course for the show. Says one insider, "Katie's trying to keep everything together."