To Become Daytime Queen, Katie Couric Must Topple ... Judge Judy?
By Rob Shuter Posted Jun 7th 2011 09:50AM
Minutes after it was announced Monday that Katie Couric had signed a multi-year deal with ABC to host and produce a nationally syndicated daytime talker, friends of the top-rated 'Judge Judy' Sheindlin warn the bubbly host that she has no intention of giving up her syndi-crown any time soon.
"What people don't know is that Judge Judy is the real powerhouse to beat," an insider tells me. "It's not about who will replace Oprah, Judge Judy has already done that, beating her week after week. Now with Oprah gone, Judy's numbers will only go higher."
'Judge Judy' has consistently bested all first-run syndication and even took out the 'Oprah Winfrey Show' in its second-to-last week of existence, according to figures on TV by the Numbers. 'Judy' attracted more than 2 million additional viewers than 'Oprah the week ending May 22, with 7.0 rating to O's 5.4.
Katie said she's "very happy" to return to ABC, where she began her career in 1979. Her untitled show will debut in September 2012 and be based in New York City. Until then, she'll anchor ABC News specials. Her former boss at NBC, Jeff Zucker, will produce the talker.
Judge Judy, distributed by CBS Television, is beginning its 16th season in September.
"There will be a lot of pressure on Katie's new show to deliver big numbers right away," a TV insider tells me.
There is little doubt that Katie will attract TONS of attention and ratings for her show, but higher-ups are looking to secure bragging rights and make the No. 1 syndicated offering in the nation a talk program, not a TV-judge one.
"The real show everyone wants to beat is Judy," the TV insider notes."All the press has been Oprah, Oprah, Oprah and Katie trying to replace her. However, everyone at ABC including Katie knows the show they need to target is Judy. Good luck with that."
Since leaving her anchor chair of the 'CBS Evening News' last month after five years, Katie has been eager to move on with the next phase of her life and while the format of the new show is still being finalized, friends who have worked with Katie tells me, "Katie is back. She wants this to succeed more than anything she has ever done!"
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