Katie Couric Returns to NBC's 'Today' Show as Guest Co-Host
Couric, who served as anchor of the long-running morning show from 1991 to 2006, is filling in for Savannah Guthrie, who is on maternity leave.
NBC's Today rang in the new year with a blast from the past on Monday's show.
Longtime co-host Katie Couric returned as guest co-host for the first time since leaving the morning show in 2006. Couric is filling in all week for co-anchor Savannah Guthrie, who is on maternity leave.
Couric's return was heavily teased by the program on social media last week and over the weekend, and her appearance was included in the morning highlights at the top of Monday's show. After the major news stories, Today's intro featured a compilation of footage and photos from Couric's 15 years on the show as well as what looked like footage of Couric arriving to Studio 1A on Monday morning wearing sunglasses and carrying a cup of coffee.
At the top of the show, Matt Lauer joked that it was January 1997 since Couric was again by his side. She jokingly introduced herself to him before saying how thrilled she was to be back for the week. Couric also joked that the return might seem a bit like, cue the music, The Twilight Zone for Lauer.
As Lauer and Couric moved through the news during the 7 o'clock hour, various correspondents and even incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer all took a minute to welcome back Couric.
The two also returned from commercials with a clip of Lauer's first day co-anchoring Today with Couric, back in 1997, with Couric joking of their short hairdos, "Apparently we had the same hairstyle." She also seemed to be making herself at home, adding, "My side of the desk is a pigsty, and yours is all neat and tidy,'' she said. "Some things never change."
Lauer and Couric also reunited with Al Roker, who appeared via video from Pasadena, where he was on hand for NBC's coverage of the Rose Parade. Roker joked about how the three of them had aged, saying, "What's a little frightening, Matt, is you and I look horrible, and she still looks fantastic." He added that he looked forward to reuniting with Couric in person Tuesday.
Couric seemed in good spirits throughout the morning, displaying her trademark perky personality, and even joining an a capella performance on the plaza. And the large crowd gathered outside, despite it being a cold, rainy morning, seemed thrilled to see her as well, chanting "Ka-tie" when Couric and Lauer took their first trip outside during the 8 o'clock hour.
"It just feels like I never left," Couric told Lauer an hour into Monday's show. "And you make it so easy, Matt, because you're so great at this job."
Couric, who turns 60 on Saturday, was in a unique position to join Dr. Oz for a segment about health at that age. But that segment wasn't without a couple of bloopers, with Lauer jumping in toward the end to physically move Couric and Oz to the right, saying they were still in front of the first of several vertical panels. At the end, Oz told Couric "despite Matt's criticism, you did beautifully," leading her to blow a raspberry at him. But then she flubbed the throw to the local news, saying "This is Today" before remembering to add, "but first your local news."
She also participated in the morning's discussion of trending topics, as seen in the video below.
There were rumors of Couric returning to guest co-host when Guthrie went on maternity leave with her first child in 2014, but it didn't happen then. Couric anchored Today for 15 years, from 1991 to 2006, before leaving for the CBS Evening News. Couric and Lauer have stayed friends, and her return comes ahead of the latter celebrating his 20th anniversary on Today on Jan. 6. The long-running morning show, meanwhile, also will celebrate its 65th anniversary on the air all of next week, leading up to the official anniversary on Jan. 14. Next week's shows will be co-hosted by another familiar face, Meredith Vieira, who served as Lauer's co-host from 2006 to 2011. Vieira was a guest co-host during Guthrie's first maternity leave.
Jan. 2, 10:32 a.m. An earlier version incorrectly stated that Today would be celebrating its 40th anniversary next week. It will actually be celebrating its 65th anniversary. The Hollywood Reporter regrets the error.