Verne Gay Verne Gay

Gay is the television critic.

Bulletin! Katie Couric may rejoin the "Today" show when co-anchor Savannah Guthrie goes on maternity leave later this summer!

Or . . . ummm . . . will she?

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Here, in fact, is what's happening. Couric has had very preliminary talks with NBC about some sort of future relationship with the morning show she left in May 2006. Guthrie is going on maternity leave, so speculation -- surfacing Monday -- has centered on that fill-in idea. (Former "Today" co-anchor, now NBC News special correspondent Meredith Vieira, who will launch a syndicated talk show this September, has also been mentioned.)

However, a more likely scenario is that the veteran newswoman has an even bigger fish to land: A broadcast venue for her Yahoo interviews.

Couric's talk show -- and relationship with Disney -- ends this summer just as her Yahoo "global anchor" job gets underway. Couric certainly understands the enormous value of having broadcast exposure for her Yahoo interviews, so why not at "Today," where she had one of the stellar runs in the show's history?

As a Guthrie replacement -- however brief -- the risk/reward ratio is complicated. What if ratings tumble while Couric works as a stand-in? What if they soar in Guthrie's absence? In any case, Vieira -- who will need the promotion -- might be a better bet.

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NBC, too, seemed to distance itself from the speculation Monday. Per a network statement, "With the 'Today' show in a good place, we are blessed with great talent and many options to temporarily fill Savannah's chair while she's on leave, but there's no plan yet."