On Monday morning, shortly after 7 a.m., Mark Sollars, a chatty teenager in a gray hooded sweatshirt, stood in a crowd at Rockefeller Center and glanced over a police barricade at the alfresco portion of NBC’s Today studio.
Sensing a potential interview subject, NYTV pounced. So what exactly should Katie Couric do next with her career?
“Katie should come back here,” said the young demo-defying Today fan. “This is where she belongs. Everyone loved her here.”
Nearby, production assistants had decked out a slab of Today’s outdoor set in Western décor (haystacks, etc.), in anticipation of an upcoming feature on lasso lessons.
“She’s a fun kind of person,” he said. He gestured at the mechanical bull in the center of the plaza. “Not all serious, you know what I’m saying?”
Indeed. Ever since leaving Today in 2006 to become the anchor of the CBS Evening News, Ms. Couric’s professional life has been filled with somber stuff—war reporting, presidential politicking, economic indicators—while sadly bereft of such things as lariats and mechanical bulls.
This past week, in the wake of fresh rumors that she might leave her job following the conclusion of the presidential election, The New York Times reported that Ms. Couric is pondering her next step, including possibly (a) replacing nighttime interview icon Larry King on CNN, or (b) starting a daytime talk show to be syndicated on CBS.
Historically, in such times of national concern over Ms. Couric’s next career move, NYTV has canvassed the patch of New York outside the Today studios, and actually the place still serves as a kind of Mecca for the most devoted of the Katie crazies. On Monday morning, The Observer returned.
“I think she’d be good at a talk show during the day,” said Bev Clarke, a petite blond lady from San Diego. “She seemed so tense on the nightly.”
“Katie should go to Africa and do humanitarian work, like Bono,” said Jacob Burgess of Port Washington, N.Y.
“She should blog her face off,” said a young man who declined to provide his name.
“Acting, maybe?” said Scott Labonte, 31, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Definitely comedy, he suggested. No drama. “Like 30 Rock, or something like that.”
Mr. Labonte, a strapping fellow sporting a goatee and an FDNY baseball cap, was sipping a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at a healthy remove from the melee. His friends stood a few yards away, in the thick of the crowd, waving signs and trying to catch a cameraman’s attention. A segment about dieting was about to begin. The voice of Today anchor Matt Lauer piped into the plaza over a set of loudspeakers. “Why do men have it so much easier than women?” asked Mr. Lauer.
Mr. Labonte said he wasn’t sure why Katie wasn’t working out on the CBS Evening News. Maybe she hadn’t been given a fair shot, he said. Or maybe, she had been done in by jealousy. In any case, Mr. Labonte said he had his doubts that Ms. Couric would have it any easier trying to replace Larry King. Mr. King is an icon, he explained. “I don’t think she has the power that Larry has for that show,” he said. “He really digs in.
“Then again, she doesn’t have those bony shoulders,” he added.
A kid with a jumbo cardboard cutout of a Wisconsin badger mascot ran by. We kept moving and soon caught up with a middle-aged man, wearing a sporty windbreaker, running shoes and a baseball cap. He looked like a college conditioning coach.
“Katie’s hot,” said Craig Bellew, who was visiting from Clarkesville, Ga. “She should come right back here. I grew up watching her on Today. And it’s easier to say her name then—what’s the other girl’s name? Anyway. She’s hot.”
Standing nearby was Emily Fitz of Portland, Ore. She disagreed that Katie should return to the roost—at least, not yet.