Jeff Zucker On Katie Couric’s ABC Show: ‘I think you’ll see the Katie that was so exciting on the Today show’

By Alex Weprin Comment

Former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker speaks to B&C editor in chief Ben Grossman in a wide-ranging interview (subscription required). The big topic is obviously former NBC and CBS anchor Katie Couric’s upcoming ABC talk show (which Zucker serves as EP on), but Zucker also talks about leaving NBCU, and his own future.

With regards to Couric, Zucker says that the show will not be a news show, but that it would still remain topical. He also said that he expects Couric to return to what made her so successful when she was at NBC’s “Today”:

What’s a typical hour going to look like?

We are going to do the show live, be as timely and topical as possible. We’re not doing a news show, but hopefully it will be off the news and off the conversation. Will there be newsmakers? Sure. Will there be high-profile guests? Sure. But this will not be Nightline.

Will she be in production five days a week?

Four, and as necessary. We won’t be covering the news, but will be talking about what the news is and what the conversation is. The real backbone of this show will be that Katie’s interested in a huge variety of topics. She’s a single mom who has two teenaged girls, who is dating, who is thinking about all the issues that parents, girlfriends are dealing with, and those are all the topics that will be relevant to this show. Parenting, health, being a girlfriend, dealing with getting older, dealing with your kids, dealing with cyberspace. I think you’ll see the Katie that was so exciting on the Today show, who could ask the questions you wanted to ask and also have a great time. It will be serious, it will be fun, it will be poignant, it will be silly, I think Katie’s unique ability to run that gamut is what sets her apart. Again, that’s the Katie you haven’t seen for the last five years, but one who was as good as anyone when she was doing that.

Zucker talks about potentially moving into politics, or working for another company. He also gave some unsolicited advice for CBS’ “The Early Show”:

What about the mornings? Should CBS really shake things up and go in another direction?

I think that when you are in third place you have to try something different. They haven’t asked for my advice, but I would say competing against the Today show and GMA is not a winning proposition.

So what should they do?

Something different. You could do all news, you could do politics, you could do talk. You could do local.

What would you do?

I’ll save that in case they call.

If you have a subscription to B&C, you can read the entire interview here.