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In an era of newsreaders doubling as newsmakers, there is perhaps no media member who draws as much attention as Katie Couric. Front pages cover her high-profile network jumps, ad campaigns are designed around her morning show guest appearances and, even in a room packed with her highest-ranked peers, Couric still draws a crowd at the bar.
Such was the case Wednesday night at THR’s New York City party celebrating the 35 Most Powerful People in Media. Cameras chronicled her every conversation, from an early chat with her former boss, CBS chief Leslie Moonves, to a warm embrace with Arianna Huffington and any number of other executives and on-air personalities.
Still, when she caught up with THR, she called into doubt her inclusion on the list, which came as a dose of humility amid all the camera flashes and onlookers. All the attention made it quite obvious that her inclusion was a no-brainer, and she understood the gravity of the perch.
“I think you do have some responsibilities — to do the best job you can, always, and to uphold certain standards, integrity — and to be true to yourself,” she said of what it meant to hold such a major megaphone in society.
No longer a daily television staple — though that will change soon — Couric last week drew major attention for her five-day stint guest-hosting ABC’s Good Morning America. It was her first bit of extended time hosting a morning show after her 15-year run on NBC’s Today ended in 2006, and she said getting back into a groove proved quite a challenge.
“It was hard, and I don’t know how I did it for 15 years,” Couric said. “A lot of people work a lot harder and work worse hours, so I have no business complaining. But having said that, I think it’s hard to do it for a week because I think you do it full time, you get a certain kind of rhythm. But just doing it one week, I felt like I’d been on a five-day bender.”
In fact, last Wednesday, smack in the middle of her guest-hosting run, THR spotted Couric making a late-night appearance at the Standard Hotel afterparty for the premiere of HBO’s new comedy Girls. It was just hours before she’d have to be on the GMA set, which made her presence a bit of a shock.
“I had a long-standing engagement with some friends of mine from Houston, and I couldn’t very well say, ‘You know, I have to get up early, so don’t come.’ So I wanted to show them a good time,” she explained. “They’re out-of-towners, and I thought they might get a kick out of going to a party at the Boom Boom Room.”
With her short run on GMA now over, Couric can get some sleep and return her focus to Katie, the syndicated daytime talk show she’s launching this fall. It’s a new format for her after years on morning shows and nightly newscasts — and one that presents new opportunities.
“I think it will give me a lot of time to really talk to people about things, and I won’t be playing beat-the-clock all the time,” Couric noted. “Increasingly, interviews have become shorter and shorter, especially on the morning shows. And having done the Today show for a long time, it’s very hard to find an interview that actually goes a little longer and covers a little more ground. So I’m very excited to be able to be in a venue and to have a format that allows me to do that.”
While not singling out any specific topic that she plans on covering, Couric added: “The good thing about me is, I always say I’m five miles wide and half an inch deep. I’m very interested in a lot of different things. I still have a natural curiosity, even today, to learn more and to help people understand things better.”
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