Barbara Walters, who knows what it’s like to feel patronized and disrespected as a female anchor on a network evening newscast, spent some time on The View yesterday harrumphing at how terribly retrograde it is that in 2006, people are still asking Katie Couric what she plans to wear on her first CBS Evening News broadcast. Then, in the next breath, Walters wondered, what is she going to wear? Katie herself bristled when a TV critic asked her that question the other day, but c’mon, after 15 years of infotainment at Today, it’s a little disingenuous for her to profess shock when even her own bosses are touting the increased glitz quotient of her soon-to-be-revamped newscast. The result of Extreme Makeover: Katie Edition will be a show that includes several Web components (online-only interview clips, a blog, a behind-the-scenes video podcast), a radio simulcast, and a wireless mini-newscast.
Given all these bells and whistles, it’s not untoward for TV critics to wonder, for example, what she’s going to wear, or if she’ll have a glass desk that shows off her famous gams, or if she’ll segue from breaking foreign news to cooking segments with Martha Stewart, or if she’ll encourage viewers to text-vote for their favorite news story of the day, which will be dissected and parodied later in the broadcast by the gang from VH1’s Best Week Ever, or if she’ll end each show lolling atop a grand piano as Michael Feinstein duets with her on a Gershwin song that evokes the day’s headlines and will be made available for download the next day on iTunes.
Are such scenarios really that far-fetched? Katie may scoff, but to paraphrase Hyman Roth, this is the business she’s chosen.