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Video: Couric reunites with Lauer, talks future plans

  1. Closed captioning of: Couric reunites with Lauer, talks future plans

    >>> it's been almost five years since she walked out of studio 1a to be the first female solo news anchor in history. this morning katie couric is back with a new book called "the

    best advice i ever got: lessons from extraordinary lives." good morning.

    >> good morning, matt. it's so weird to be here in this role, but it's great to see you.

    >> want this chair?

    >> i'm fine where i am. a little older, none the wiser.

    >> good to have you back.

    >> thank you.

    >> we have a lot to talk about.

    >> all right.

    >> give me the crib notes as to how the book came about.

    >> i gave a graduation speech in cleveland and i got tired of talking about myself, believe it or not. i thought i would reach out to some of the people i interviewed and see what they would tell young kids. so i contacted queen ranya, sheryl crow and other people and said, what lessons have you learned? they gave me incredibly moving, funny or interesting, inspiring things to say. i thought, wouldn't this make a great collection?

    >> advice is personal and what works for one person during a particular situation in their lives may not work for others. how do you want people to digest the information?

    >> there are common universal themeses in these essays about dealing with failure, embracing failure, having success scars, as tavis smiley said. pragmatic advice from mayor blumberg that says, get there early. he got to his real estate agency early, got all the calls and got the sales. solomon brothers he got there early and got to know the other guy who was there early, the ceo.

    >> nia vardares says our society is more rude. she says when people get ruder, she gets nicer. never fall to the level of the behavior of the people around you. that one jumped out at me.

    >> she's so great, so funny and so wonderful. her advice was important. one thing i tell young people when they are looking for jobs is manners matter. write thank you notes, have good eye contact , a firm handshake. you never get a second chance to make a first impression. wasn't that the head and shoulders ad?

    >> i have heard that before, yes. matthew mcconaughey . tough work to get him in the book. he had great ones. he talked about his father telling him, never say "i can't." when he used to try to start a lawn mower . dad said, no, no, it hasn't worked yet.

    >> it's not "i can't." you're having trouble. that's a life lesson. if something's challenging you can't give up. that's a theme of the book from a lot of people. you have to keep trying. for example, catherine stockily who wrote "the help" was rejected 60 times. i love her.

    >> there is a chapter devoted to taking risks, seeking opportunities. have you heard any good rumors lately?

    >> no, have you?

    >> nothing?

    >> no.

    >> what are you going to do?

    >> i'm not sure. i'm excited about the future. i love my job at the cbs evening news, i do. i'm just in the middle of figuring it out. barbara walters on "the view" was like -- and i was like, no.

    >> there is a lot of speculation. i know you and i know the business well. is it fair to assume you have made a decision -- because you've only got weeks left on your contract. is it fair to assume you have made the decision but you have yet to discuss openly the decision?

    >> no, i really haven't. i'm in the middle of figuring out where would be the best place for me, what would be the best job for me.

    >> it still might be at cbs doing the news?

    >> yes. i'm going to call you as soon as i know.

    >> obviously a lot of speculation surrounds syndication.

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> that's an aspect of the business we work in. what is it about syndication you find appealing? what would be the risks of syndication?

    >> i think there are risks with everything. there is a risk-reward ratio you have to weigh with everything. i think what might appeal to me -- and it's something i'm considering is, you know, just the creative freedom to pick subjects, dig deep, to have a smart intelligent conversation and just -- you know, i think it would be fun for me -- you know me, matt -- i'm like -- that's the person i am. it might be nice for me to show my personality.

    >> when you lay in bed, close your eyes and think of a show are you thinking of something like oprah, ellen, "the view".

    >> you know i'm a good dancer.

    >> i'm trying to get my arms around what you're considering.

    >> i think a smart conversation about a host of subjects would be fun. i'm obviously interested in medical and health information . i'm interested in controversial topics and social issues. i'm interested in politics. i think sort of the panopoly and the opportunity to roll up your sleeves and dig into those subjects is appealing.

    >> do you feel pressure to make a decision sooner than later? there is speculation.

    >> i don't love this part of it. i also don't want to feel pressure from outside forces to make a decision quickly. i want to be methodical and smart about it. you're the most methodical person i know. you think things through. i want to take a page from your book on that.

    >> as the speculation continues, the longer it goes the more headlines are in the paper, the more time and space being taken from important things like charlie sheen .

    >> that's true. i need to give the headlineses back to charlie. i feel bad about that.

    >> when do you think you will make a decision?

    >> i hope in the next few weeks. it's important for everybody, i think, to move forward. so i'm hoping sooner rather than later.

    >> if --

    >> by november.

    >> we have both sat in this chair and we know normally people we interview don't like hypothetical questions.

    >> so you're not going to ask me one.

    >> if you decide to leave cbs and the evening news what will you take away from the last five years? what lessons, regrets, if any?

    >> i don't have regrets. i love doing the evening news. it's a privilege and honor to be in that position and such a responsibility as well, as you know, matt. walter cronkite took me to dinner before i took the job. that's an evening i will never forget. i love covering the big stories, going to haiti and egypt and having this front row seat and actually going in and witnessing firsthand. you know, i faced a lot of criticism early on. i remember linda ellerbee 's comment, some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue. it's more fun being the pigeon. i think i have learned that you have to be true to yourself, focus on your work and not be influenced by outside nay sayers or in some cases supporters. you just have to focus on the job at hand. as my dad told me, do the best you can every single day. that's what i try to do.

    >> good advice for the book as well.

    >> o by the way -- can i mention quickly, i know you have to wrap. you did a fantastic essay about going off course, making a tough choice while you were in college and al talked about willard and the girls are doing great.

    >> the proceeds go --

    >> to scholarship america which helps needy kids go to college. don't we have more time?

    >> we have to go to commercial. just ahead, natalie from rio after your local news.

TODAY contributor
updated 4/13/2011 10:28:38 AM ET 2011-04-13T14:28:38

Newswoman Katie Couric is weathering a storm of speculation about her career plans, but in a homecoming on TODAY Wednesday, she said she has not ruled out options like staying on as news anchor with “CBS Evening News” or launching her own syndicated talk show.

While Couric, co-host of TODAY from 1991 to 2006, told TODAY’s Matt Lauer that she “doesn’t love” being the focus of seemingly endless stories about her future, she refuses to be pressured into making an announcement about what she will do when her CBS contract ends in early June.

“I don’t want to feel pressured by outside sources to make a decision quickly,” the 54-year-old Couric said. But Lauer, who sat alongside Couric on TODAY from 1997 to 2006, wondered aloud if Couric might have already made up her mind.

“I know you very well and I know the business pretty well,” Lauer told his old partner. “You’ve only got a number of weeks left on your contract; is it fair for me to assume you’ve made the decision, but you’ve yet to discuss openly the decision?”

“No, I really haven’t,” Couric replied. “I’m in the middle of figuring it out, figuring out where would be the best place for me, what would be the best job for me.”

She added that the possibility of continuing as anchor with “CBS Evening News” remains on the table.

“I love doing my job at the ‘CBS Evening News,’ I really do,” she said.

News reports have speculated that Couric will launch her own talk show, and on TODAY Couric talked positively about the possibility.

“I think what might appeal to me is just the creative freedom to pick subjects, to really dig deep, to have a smart, intelligent conversation,” she told Lauer. “I think the opportunity to really roll up your sleeves, to dig into subjects, would be appealing.” And she noted that while her former partner Lauer knows the full, often-playful facets of her personality, the rest of America may not.

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“You know me, Matt — I’m like, ‘Wah!’ ” Couric said with a laugh. “That’s the kind of person I am. So it might be nice to have a little more wiggle room to show my personality.”

Lauer told Couric he believes the clock’s ticking while she makes up her mind, and the more she puts off her decision, “the more time is being taken away and space is being taken away from important things like Charlie Sheen.”

Couric chuckled and said, “I need to give the headlines back to Charlie; I feel really bad about that.”

allDAY: Watch an amusing exchange between Matt, Katie

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Although the ratings have held steady for “CBS Evening News” during Couric’s five-year run, the program has stayed in its third-place position behind NBC’s and ABC’s evening news programs. To boot, Couric faced an avalanche of nit-picking as the first female solo evening news anchor, ranging from the tone of her delivery to how much leg she showed on camera.

Couric admitted that she “faced a lot of criticism early on,” but soldiered forward. “I think I’ve learned you really have to be true to yourself, focus on your work and not be influenced by outside naysayers or in some cases, supporters,” she told Lauer. “You just focus on the job at hand and, as my dad always told me, do the best you can every single day.”

Story: Couric shares advice from Batali: ‘Life is not a recipe’

And while Couric ponders her job future, she’s also branched out in the publishing world with her new book, “The Best Advice I Ever Got.” The book contains essays Couric compiled from the likes of President Bill Clinton, TV personalities Jimmy Kimmel, Ryan Seacrest and Tyra Banks, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and TODAY’s Lauer and Al Roker.

Couric told Lauer the genesis of the book came when she was asked to deliver the commencement address at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio last year. “I got tired, believe it or not, talking about myself, so I thought, you know, I’m going to reach out to some of the people I’ve interviewed through the years and see what would they tell these young kids,” she said.

“I realized, wow, they gave me these incredible, moving, or funny, or interesting or inspiring things to say, and I thought, wouldn’t this make a great collection?”

Read an excerpt from Katie Couric’s new book “The Best Advice I Ever Got” here .

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