CBS and NBC Placing Bets on Couric Question

The buzz inside the CBS Broadcast Center is that heavy odds favor Katie Couric’s making the former dairy barn her home and leaving her posh Rockefeller Center digs once and for all.

Also, the promotion of veteran 60 Minutes producer Rome Hartman last week—to executive producer of the CBS Evening News—is seen as a temporary assignment. If Couric comes aboard, she’ll want to handpick the person who runs the flagship newscast.

Hartman will still have plenty to do if that happens. When Hartman was named to his new post, CBS News President Sean McManus said Hartman would serve as a key advisor—and essentially McManus’ No. 2. And a comfort level already exists: Both are Duke grads (class of ’77) and rabid Blue Devils fans.

Meanwhile, McManus has indicated to pals that he expects to hear a yes or no from Couric this week.

Over at NBC, oddsmakers are optimistic about Couric’s staying put, but there’s a sense inside 30 Rock that all that can be done to make her stay has been done. And although Couric’s departure would represent a serious loss to the network, Today could still dominate in the morning without her. The leading candidates to replace her should she bolt: Dateline and Today’s Ann Curry and Nightly News correspondent and Today weekend co-anchor Campbell Brown.

Yahoo! Eyes Howard

Howard Stern is planning a ceremonial walk from terrestrial to satellite radio, and Yahoo! may be there to cover it. When Stern finishes his final show on Dec. 16 for Infinity Broadcasting, he plans to walk out of the building and greet fans and show regulars. While the event is still in the works, Stern has said on-air that he would like to host some sort of “surprise” or party for fans at that time.

Yahoo! declined to comment for this story, but word is the company is interested in streaming video of the event.

Stern’s connection to the Internet giant: Yahoo! honcho Lloyd Braun, in a past life as a Hollywood lawyer, represented Stern during the 1990s. The two are said to share a mutual admiration.

The self-proclaimed “King of All Media” debuts on Sirius Satellite Radio on Monday, Jan. 9 in a much hyped, five-year, $500 million deal.

Exposure on Yahoo! would certainly not be the only place to see Stern prior to his satellite premiere, as the jock has embarked on a major promotional blitz. After a recent appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, Stern was set to appear in a taped piece with Ed Bradley this past Sunday on 60 Minutes.

Up next: a pre-taped appearance with Katie Couric on the Today show, as well as an upcoming walk-on on Saturday Night Live, in which Stern is to appear in the opening sketch. On the horizon: cable news appearances with Bill O’Reilly and Larry King.

Reality Check

From time to time, Flash! chronicles the world of reality-TV casting, where hungry producers beckon innocent Craigslist users to participate in “special moments of discovery.” Or to “e-mail us two (clothed) pictures.” And by the way: “Please be young, fresh, hot, sexy, comfortable in front of the camera.” (The other day, we even read about something called “HD Bikini.” Is this why high-def was created?)

In a stroke of self-casting genius, two 35-year-old women didn’t wait for producers to come to them. They took their campaign to be contestants on The Amazing Race to a Nov. 22 Craigslist posting. Why should CBS cast them on its globetrotting adventure series?

First, the women have known each other since high school.

“However, in VERY different groups,” reads the post. “She the cheerleader (whatever) and me the surfer girl—AND MARRIED THE SAME CLASSMATE.”

Surfer Girl adds a caveat: “Well, not at the same time.”

Hmm. High school pals? Dissimilar social circles? Sharing spouses? Forget the reality redux, ladies. Executive producers like Race’s Bertram van Munster need more to work with.

“We don’t know much of each other but are willing to get to know one another (and learn more dirt on the guy we both married) on camera, while traveling, and trying to reach a common goal—WIN!”

Now that’s the spirit! Victory! Get me van Munster on the phone!