Katie Couric has signed a multi-year deal with ABC to host and produce a nationally syndicated talk show and join the ABC News team.
The talk show will debut in September 2012, joining a daytime landscape in flux after Oprah Winfrey's exit from broadcast airwaves last month.
The move brings Couric back together with her longtime producer on the "Today" show, Jeff Zucker, who will produce it. The former CEO and president of NBCUniversal was drummed out of NBCU last year but led the morning show to success as its producer when Couric co-hosted with Matt Lauer.
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TheWrap reported Friday that Couric was expected to announce the ABC deal as early as today. Couric considered staying with CBS and also talked with NBC and CNN before reaching the deal with ABC.
"I’m very happy to be returning to the network where I began my career as a desk assistant in 1979," Couric said in a statement.
The timing of the announcement grabbed some of the spotlight from Scott Pelley, who takes over tonight as anchor of "CBS Evening News," which Couric anchored for five years before stepping down last month.
Couric's yet-to-be-named talk show will be based in New York and produced with Disney/ABC. ABC said the eight ABC-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia,
San Francisco, Houston, Raleigh/Durham and Fresno — which represent nearly 23 percent
of the nation’s TV households — have already cleared the new show in the 3 p.m.
As part of the announcement, the network is set to return the last hour of its daytime network block to affiliates in September 2012 or later. Many soap fans have worried that Couric's show could threaten "General Hospital," but the network says it "continues to support" the show. It announced in April the cancellations of the much-loved soaps "One Life to Live" and "All My Children."
As part of ABC News, Couric will anchor specials, contribute interviews, and participate in special events coverage. She has won the prestigious duPont, Murrow and Cronkite Awards and several Emmys.
"Katie Couric is one of television’s iconic figures and we are thrilled to have forged such an exciting partnership with her," said Anne Sweeney, president of Disney/ABC Television Group and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. "We look forward to having Katie join the best news team in the business, and to working with her to create a dynamic and successful talk show franchise."
Said Zucker: "It was a blast working with Katie at 'Today' and I’m excited to do it again. And besides, it should be more fun spending time with Katie at 3 or 4 in the afternoon than at 3 or 4 in the morning."