Close to confirming what many others in those all-knowing media circles have indicated in recent weeks, Katie Couric's talk show will be canceled later this month, though it will air through next summer, according to Wednesday morning's Hollywood Reporter.
Explanation: Stations are under contract to carry the show through next summer.
What happened? Here's the key -- and anonymous -- pull quote from the story: "She has a complete and utter disdain for the audience she needs to appeal to," says one former employee. "In her mind, the 'Today' show was [the model] -- professional women getting ready for work. Anyone home after 9 o'clock are people she has no interest in appealing to. But she also loved the $20 million paycheck." A source close to Couric dismisses that characterization and says, "It is because of Katie's great respect for her audience that she introduces fresh perspectives and substantive material into the show."
Problems at the show have been reported for months -- I've stayed away because it's all mostly tiresome inside baseball. But there has been staff turnover -- Katie is, famously, no day at the beach to work for, although, hey, to be fair, neither is Oprah, and I hear she's done all right.
In point of fact, however, this is something that I have written about in Newsday in the past -- one of those be-careful-what-you-wish for scenarios. Katie had long wanted to segue to daytime syndication after "Today." I warned her in print about this aspiration; apparently she did not read the columns.
Daytime syndication is a tough business, or to quote some guy named Hunter Thompson, it's "a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason."
Well, yes, there is a good reason: To make people rich, or rich people richer.
But to achieve great success in daytime TV, you really have to study at the elbow of Maury Povich -- he got it exactly right. Maury, by the way, is one of the smartest TV people I know -- but he sold out big time years ago by filling "Maury" with gimmicky, garbage and stuff about finding out who someone's daddy was.
It was all the basest pandering -- but base pandering works marvelously well in daytime TV.
By contract, Katie's show has attempted to be a little bit of one thing, a little bit of another. She dips her toe in the sewer, then hastily withdraws it. Her fundamental revulsion for what it takes to succeed in daytime is obvious.
Will the Reporter story be true? Probably, but someone else will fill her place. I hear "Maury" is looking for some station upgrades.