Who: Formerly the perky co-host of Today, Couric is now the much less perky anchor of the CBS Evening News, the last-place evening newscast.
Backstory: A Virginia native and UVA sorority girl, Couric began her television career as a desk assistant in ABC News's Washington bureau in 1979. She gradually worked her way up to on-air reporting, with stints at local stations in Miami and D.C., before joining NBC as deputy Pentagon correspondent in 1989. The following year she joined Today as a national correspondent and filled in for Deborah Norville when she left the show on maternity leave in 1991. When audiences quickly cottoned to her girl-next-door cheeriness, Today producers officially swapped Norville with Couric as co-anchor.
Couric spent six years sitting alongside Bryant Gumbel before earning a new couch-mate in 1997 when Matt Lauer became co-anchor, and filled the airwaves with peppiness during Today's golden age when the show became a ratings and advertising bonanza under executive producer Jeff Zucker. By 2006, though, she'd apparently grown tired of the early morning routine and with Good Morning America gaining ground on the Today franchise, she skipped out of studio 1A to move to CBS to take over the evening newscast, which Bob Schieffer had been interim-anchoring since Dan Rather's inglorious departure in mid-2005. Publicly, Couric said she was thrilled to return to hard news and inherit one of the most prestigious jobs in television. Critics immediately zeroed in on her outsized paycheck as the primary motivation. Whatever it was that led her to CBS, she made her awkward debut on September 5, 2006.
Of note: CBS pulled out all the stops to promote their pricey new hire and both CBS brass and Couric promised that the new show would turn the idea of evening news on its head: Katie would inject some AM-style chattiness into the traditionally stodgy 6:30pm newscast, network publicists said; she'd bring over the housewives she'd won over on Today and vault the program from last place to first, CBS execs assured advertisers. Of course, things didn't work out as planned. Within months, Couric's diva-like antics—combined with the widespread impression that she was dragging down the entire news division—soon led vengeful staffers to gripe to the tabloids that her days were numbered. Despite efforts to restyle the show into a more serious newscast, a revolving door of producers, and a series of publicity stunts designed to juice ratings, Couric's show has been stuck in last place behind NBC and ABC since its debut.
It's widely expected that Couric will leave the network when her contract expires in mid-2011, although what she does next—and if she decides to stay in television—remains an open question.
By the numbers: A good deal of the animosity within CBS stemmed from Couric's exorbitant pay package: CBS CEO Moonves offered her $15 million a year to lure her to the network. More resentment followed the revelation that some of Katie's haul was siphoned from other CBS News employees' paychecks: 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl, for example, was forced to accept a $500,000 pay cut after Katie signed on.
Personal: Couric married Jay Monahan, a lawyer and legal analyst for NBC News, in 1989. They had two children—Elinor (Ellie) and Caroline (Carrie)—before Monahan died of colon cancer in 1998 at the age of 41. Since then, Couric has been linked to plastic surgeon Carroll "Cap" Lesesne, TV producer Tom Werner, musician Chris Botti, and D.C. businessman Jimmy Reyes (who was once engaged to radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.) Her current boyfriend, who she's been with since 2007, is Brooks Perlin, an entrepreneur 17 years her junior. Katie and her daughters live on Park Avenue and spend weekends at a 7,000-square-foot house in East Hampton that she purchased for $6.3 million in 2006.
Pet cause: Monahan's death prompted Couric to become a major fundraiser and spokesperson for colon cancer research. (Perhaps you remember her on-air colonoscopy in 2000?) She's since founded The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at New York-Presbyterian.
Full Name: Katherine Anne Couric
Date of Birth: 01/07/1957
Place of Birth: Arlington, VA
High School: Yorktown High School
Undergrad: University of Virginia
Residence(s): New York, NY (Upper East Side); East Hampton, NY
Filed Under: Media
[Image via Getty]