With Daytime Fans likely to be hit hard by the absence of The Big O (Oprah Winfrey, that is…) this fall, ABC announced Monday that they are bringing former NBC and CBS newswoman Katie Couric aboard to host a new afternoon talk show. The multi-year deal will give Couric a role at ABC News, The Hollywood Reporter reports, in which she will contribute to ABC News, anchoring specials, conducting interviews, and participating in special-events coverage.
But what does Couric’s new career move mean for General Hospital, The Alphabet Network’s lone-surviving sudster?
In several major cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, ABC has already given GH’s coveted 3PM timeslot to Couric’s new show, set to premiere in Sept. 2012. The network stopped short of cancelling GH outright — saying in a press release that it “continues to support” the aging soap. It did not, however, explain what “support” means. Concerns over the future of General Hospital have been on the rise since the announcement of the cancellation of two long-running ABC soap operas, All My Children and One Live to Life. Those shows will be replaced with two new daytime series —The Chew and The Revolution — next September and January, respectively.
“We saw a need to evolve daytime,” says Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group. “It’s a space that needs to be more competitive, and we’re certainly putting resources against that…We are not announcing the end of General Hospital today. It’s up to each show to maintain a very high level of storytelling and audience engagement…The best way to ensure a favorite show stays on the air is to watch it.”
Meanwhile, Couric has said that the format of her upcoming talker is still “a work in progress,” but she expects it to blend elements of The Oprah Winfrey Show and TODAY, where she worked for over a decade before heading to CBS in 2006.
“It’s still a work in progress right now but it will be topical and live and hopefully it will deal with various issues,” she told Jay Leno during an appearance on The Tonight Show Monday. “I’ve been using this as an example – when Osama Bin Laden was killed, we might have done a show about Navy Seals. Who are they? What kind of training is required? Why is the failure rate so high when you’re training to be a Seal? It will be a little bit of what Oprah did – obviously no-one can fill her shoes, but some of the things she did on her show – and some of the things we used to do on The TODAY Show,” she added.
“I’m really looking forward to it because creatively it’s such an exciting challenge for me.”
Now in its 48th year, General Hospital is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running American soap opera currently in production.