What is Katie Couric's big announcement tomorrow on Today?
(UPDATE: Looks like the three biggest networks are teaming up to do a big fundraiser to fight cancer. Just when we were begining to dig thinking about who might get the chance to screw up CBS News even further, post-Katie. Sigh.)
She left the show two years ago, headed for an effort to re-invent the evening newscast that turned into the biggest train wreck in network TV news history.
So why is Katie Couric going back to the Today show tomorrow?
Former partner Matt Lauer made a vague announcement today that Couric was returning to the show Wedensday for a "major announcement." Given that Meredith Vieria has pretty much seamlessly replaced her on TV's top morning show, I doubt she's taking back her old gig (and even when she announced the move to CBS two years ago, she did it first where she was currently working).
For more than a year now, media writers have been predicing Couric's departure from CBS; this non-announcement announcement allows us all to wallow in that speculation for another 24 hours. Is she headed to CNN to take Anderson Cooper or Larry King's job? Is she following in Oprah and Barbara Walters' footsteps to develop her own syndicated talk show? (given her friendship with NBC honcho Jeff Zucker, a new syndicated show for the Peacock network is the only scenario where I might see her making a career announcement on Today)?
I expect tomorrow's announcement to be much more about something innocuous that wouldn't ruffle either CBS or NBC's feathers -- a drive to spread awareness about Couric's pet charity, colon cancer research, perhaps. But regardless of how inane the actual announcement will be, Lauer's magnificently vague foreshadowing ensures lots of writers like me will be glued to the set tomorrow, looking for clues on Couric's exit strategy from CBS.
Just as he and Couric intended. Darn you TV news celebrities.
(UPDATE - Click below to read the press release from ABC-TV)
ABC, NBC, CBS Join Forces to Fight Cancer
All Three Networks To Donate One Hour Of Primetime To Raise Money For Cancer
In an unprecedented collaboration, all three major television networks will donate one hour of simultaneous commercial-free primetime this fall in an effort to raise money for cancer research.
The broadcast, "Stand Up To Cancer," will air on Sept. 5 on ABC, CBS and NBC and will feature live performances by recording artists and movie and film stars who will, along with the evening news anchors from each of the networks, deliver information about potentially life-saving cancer research.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country after heart disease.
In commenting on why ABC decided to join the cause Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney-ABC Television Group, stated "Everyone in our country has been touched by cancer in some way, shape or form. The thought that we could, in one hour of television, make a true difference in the fight against this disease was both exciting and inspiring."
"The statistics are staggering," said Charles Gibson, anchor of ABC News's "World News Tonight with Charles Gibson." "Cancer claims one person every minute every day in the United States."
"Every year in this country, more than half a million people die from this disease," said Gibson, "Worldwide, cancer kills more than six million people annually."
The American Cancer Society predicts that 1,437,180 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year alone.
Money raised by "Stand Up To Cancer", a coalition of organizations from the scientific, medical and entertainment communities seeking to fight cancer in innovative ways, will be used for cancer research and treatments.
"What is smart about this organization is that there have been various wars on cancer launched in the past and most of them have done it in an approach to a single cause of cancer," said Gibson. "[The American Association for Cancer Research] is being very bright in that they're going to spread the money around to various approaches."
As much as 20 percent of the money raised will go toward less mainstream research, added Gibson.
Katie Couric, anchor of the "CBS Evening News," said in a press release that new research will make a huge difference to those affected by cancer.
"Cancer touches us all," said Couric, who lost her husband Jay Monahan to colon cancer in 1998. "For people struggling with this disease, or those who will be diagnosed, scientific breakthroughs can be a matter of life or death literally."
"We want everyone to know that they can make a difference in this fight," added Couric.
"Stand Up To Cancer" believes that it is the lack of funding not the scientific knowledge that is preventing the advancement of cancer treatment and prevention.
"New developments in the laboratory are revealing the way cancer begins, progresses and spreads," said anchor of NBC's "Nightly News" Brian Williams. "Today's cancer scientists are on the verge of life-saving discoveries."
"But what they desperately need now are the funds necessary to mount an all-out assault on this devastating disease," Williams added. "'Stand Up To Cancer' is dedicated to providing this much needed new source of cancer research funding."
In addition to the broadcast, "Stand Up To Cancer" is launching an interactive website as well as a public service announcement campaign to further educate the public about cancer.
Gibson added that he hopes this partnership will urge more people to seek out answers to their questions and concerns about cancer.
"This is a kind of noble experiment," said Gibson of the project. "In the long run there's a public awareness responsibility here that may be more important than the money."