Starting this morning, and for at least the next week, ”Today”’s Katie Couric will be facing off against the woman she deposed, who herself deposed another morning-TV icon. Deborah Norville, who notoriously took over for Jane Pauley on ”Today” a decade ago, only to be replaced by Couric after a brief and bitter tenure, returns to morning TV on CBS’ ”Early Show,” where she’ll spend five days filling the seat vacated by Bryant Gumbel in May. Her guest stint could become permanent, however, as Variety reports that her week spent bantering with ”Early” cohost Jane Clayson is widely seen as an audition.
Norville, who has hosted the syndicated ”Inside Edition” since 1995 (taking over for future Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly), may still be better known for replacing Pauley as the ”Today” cohost in 1989. The move was widely seen as NBC putting Pauley out to pasture in favor of a younger, blonder star, though Pauley quickly found success on the network’s primetime news magazine ”Dateline,” where she remains to this day. Norville cohosted ”Today” for two low-rated years, working with cohost Gumbel and producer Michael Bass (now at ”Early”), before she was replaced in turn by Couric, who helped turn the show around and has since become the highest-paid correspondent at NBC News.
If Norville does become the permanent host (other substitutes have included CBS News’ John Roberts and Russ Mitchell and ”Hollywood Squares” host Tom Bergeron), she and Clayson would be the only all-female anchor team among the three network morning shows. Indeed, when Gumbel quit in May, it seemed like that was the direction CBS wanted to go, as it was avidly courting Meredith Vieira to return to CBS News and take the job. Vieira, however, declined and renewed her contract at ABC, where she is a panelist on ”The View” and will be the host of the syndicated version of ”Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” this fall.