Couric in prime time

Z ON TV

January 28, 2009|By DAVID ZURAWIK

CBS anchorwoman Katie Couric and the CBS Evening News come to prime time tonight, and if you haven't been watching the broadcast the past six months or so, I urge you to take this opportunity to check Couric and her newscast out.

Here's the cynical explanation as to why the evening news for the first time will be shown in prime time: Fox has American Idol scheduled in the same time slot, so what has CBS to lose by throwing Couric up against it? In fact, CBS will save money by not having to put an expensive entertainment show on only to see it clobbered in the ratings. In the 1980s, the network pioneered the use of newsmagazines as such low-cost fodder against ratings hits like NBC's The Cosby Show.

But I don't buy that one-dimensional explanation. In August on the eve of the political conventions, I was the first to report Couric's rise in the ratings and the much improved newscast that she and executive producer Rick Kaplan were offering. Couric and the newscast have only gotten better since.

I believe CBS really wants a prime-time audience to see just how good Couric and her newscast have become. (8 p.m., WJZ, Channel 13).

LATE-NIGHT GUESTS Chef Guy Fieri visits the Late Show with David Letterman. Actress Dakota Fanning appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

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