"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric is the latest name being floated as a possible successor to Oprah Winfrey in the "who will rule daytime?" sweepstakes. Syndicators have reportedly approached Couric, whose current contract expires in May, about helming a daytime talk show beginning in 2012. If she agrees, she'll be taking on another new contender: CNN's Anderson Cooper, whose daytime talker, "Anderson" — set to debut in fall 2011 with an emphasis on "water-cooler topics" and personal stories — has already been bought by 80 local TV channels looking for another Winfrey. Critics consider the odds:
Couric has a real shot: Oprah's departure leaves "a huge hole in the daytime arena," says Charlie Toft at Film.com, and "Couric might be the only person with the name recognition to come close to filling it." Her time at the "Today" show left her adept with lighter topics, and "she's not above the sort of personal sharing that Oprah turned into an art form."
"Katie Couric: The new Oprah?"
She's too divisive: Couric has "become a lightning rod," says Adam Buckman at Fancast. People "either love her or strongly dislike her," which calls into question her ability to draw a sufficiently large audience. Remember when Jane Pauley tried launching a daytime talk show, back in 2004? It failed — and Pauley "arguably was better liked in her heyday than Couric."
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If Anderson succeeds, so might Katie: "All eyes will be on Anderson," says Paige Albiniak at Broadcasting & Cable. If he succeeds, then Couric may well have a shot at a daytime show and the coveted 4 p.m. time slot. But stations won't want to take a risk on another news anchor if Cooper fails.
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