Katie Couric said to be open to many options, including going to CNN
Now that CNN has settled on new hosts for its 8 p.m. Eastern hour -- making the "innately controversial decision," as CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein put it, to pair former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer with conservative columnist Kathleen Parker -- attention is shifting back to the network’s next task.
With talk show host Larry King's contract up in a year, there's been no end to the speculation that he will be replaced. One option being considered is that King would be offered another two-year contract, but would not remain a fixture in prime time, according to a source familiar with the possibilities. CNN, which has denied reports that it is close replacing King, declined to comment.
Who would step into King's shoes? Earlier this month, the British press were abuzz with reports that his successor would be Piers Morgan, a judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent" as well as the U.K. version of that show. On Monday, the New York Post reported that one possible candidate, CBS anchor Katie Couric, had declined the job and is in serious talks to stay at CBS.
But a source familiar with the situation said Couric has not turned down an offer from CNN and has not begun negotiating with anyone about what she will do after her current contract expires in 2011. Couric appears to be leaving the door open to pursuing a variety of options, including remaining at CBS. Negotiations with that network are not expected to begin until the fall.
After struggling unsuccessfully to lift the "CBS Evening News" out of third place in the ratings, Couric is thought to want a deal that would give her a range of platforms, perhaps even through her own production company. A talent-sharing arrangement with CBS and CNN is a possibility -- the two networks have similar deals with Anderson Cooper and Sanjay Gupta.
-- Matea Gold
Photo: CNN's Wolf Blitzer and CBS' Katie Couric attend the U.S.-Ghana World Cup match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, on June 26. Credit: Ian Walton / Getty Images