Friday, April 07, 2006
Katie, Meredith and Me
They’re calling it the worst kept secret in broadcasting: Katie Couric is leaving The Today Show to anchor The CBS Evening News. It was such a poorly kept secret that even I knew about it.
One evening, about a month ago, I had two CBS executives riding my train. One of them reached into his briefcase and pulled out two 8x10 glossy photos of Katie Couric sitting behind a desk in front of the CBS Evening News logo. When I came to collect his ticket, he quickly hid the pictures. It was as if I was his mother and caught him looking at a Playboy Magazine. His partner laughed when he did this and said something like…“You have to be more careful with those.”
This week, when the news was released that Katie took the anchor job, I thought…Yea, I knew that!
The second worst kept secret in broadcasting was that Meredith Viera is taking over Katie’s position at The Today Show.
About five years ago, my older daughter and I met Meredith in a Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Shop on Cape Cod. We had just left the beach and went to grab an ice cream cone. When we went into the shop, there were only two other people in line, a woman and her young son. They ordered frozen fruit drinks then stepped aside to let us order. It was then I realized it was Meredith.
It looked as though they also had just come from the beach. She was wearing a white tank top and a pair of gray sweat pants. Her hair was wind blown and she wasn’t wearing any make-up and yet she was still very pretty. Her voice sounded somehow different than one she uses on TV.
“Meredith Viera?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Hi” I said, “My wife and I watch your show all the time... Do you have a house up here?”
“No,” she said, “My in-laws have a place down the road and we visit every summer.”
We bantered back and forth like this for several minutes while she waited for her fruit drinks to be prepared and blended. I was struck by how down to earth she seemed and how unforced our conversation was.
Before she left I told her that I couldn’t wait to tell my wife that I met her and I confessed that I had a little bit of a crush on her.
“Oh, you’re sweet,” she said.
When I returned to our motel, I told my wife how we had met Meredith and how I had confessed my crush to her.
“Oh great!” she said, “Now she probably thinks you’re a stalker.”
A few months after our meeting, I read an interview with Meredith in some women's magazine I found on the train. She told the interviewer that she sometimes wishes she could retire from broadcasting and move to Cape Cod.
For ten million dollars a year, I'd change my mind too.