LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Katie Couric said on Thursday she hopes to bring “humanity and intelligence” to her new daytime talk show, but acknowledged she would have to re-acquaint viewers with the softer side she showed in her 15 years on NBC’s “Today” show.
Calling herself a “natural born extrovert,” Couric told television reporters at a gathering of critics in Beverly Hills that she was looking forward to interacting with a live studio audience in her new syndicated show “Katie” - a lifestyle program aimed mostly at women.
Couric, 55, launches her daytime TV venture on September 10, more than a year after ending a controversial stint as the first solo female anchor of a U.S. nightly network news broadcast on “CBS Evening News.”
“Obviously there is a need to re-familiarize myself and who I am in terms of being natural, spontaneous, interactive and a more casual, less formal journalist. When I did the ‘CBS Evening News’ I didn’t have that opportunity to show both sides of myself,” Couric said.
Couric is jumping into daytime TV on the same day three other personalities - Ricki Lake, Jeff Probst and Steve Harvey - launch shows to fill the void left by influential chat queen Oprah Winfrey, who ended her daytime TV run in May 2011 after 25 years on air.
Couric dismissed suggestions she may have left her old job a little late and should have moved into daytime TV sooner.
“I couldn’t really do it any earlier because I was doing ‘CBS Evening News’ until May last year ... I am happy to have a year grace period,” she said.
“With Oprah exiting the stage, it was okay for me to give some time for the landscape to settle before jumping into the fray. So I feel the timing worked really well for me.”
Couric said “Katie” would deal with topics such as caring for aging parents, the effects of technology on youth and dating at an older age - subjects with which she is familiar.
It will also have regular segments that recognize ordinary people who are not famous, as well as giving some viewers - and possibly herself - a chance to realize long-held dreams.
“One of the exciting things for me is I am going to be able to flex all my muscles,” she said, adding that she hoped the show would give audiences “a richer experience than just a three-minute interview and have intelligence and humanity.”
Couric left “CBS Evening News” in 2011 after a five year stint that largely failed to bring a much hoped-for ratings boost for the network. She also came in for criticism, sometimes based on what she was wearing or how she was sitting.
“Some of the criticism seemed so shallow,” she said on Thursday. “That was hard for me to understand, some of the vitriol that was unleashed ... But it was very character-building for me and taught me to focus on the work.”
Showing off the perkier side of a personality that made her known as “America’s sweetheart” on “Today” in the 1990s, Couric revealed some of the dreams she has yet to fulfill after a more than 30-year career in TV.
“I would like to star in a Broadway musical, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. Because when I auditioned for my high school musical they cast me as a deaf mute! ... and I would like to go out with George Clooney, if we can arrange that,” she added.
Reporting By Jill Serjeant; editing by Bob Tourtellotte and Andre Grenon