Tasked with improving ratings for a show that is under nearly constant media scrutiny, Rachel Miskowiec, the third executive producer of Disney/ABC Television’s freshman Katie, hit the job running last month. Miskowiec’s deal was signed May 23; she started on the show just five days later, relocating from California to New York.
While the Katie Couric vehicle was the past season’s top-rated rookie talk show in households, it underperformed all year compared to year-ago time periods and lead-ins. And Katie lost the battle among women 25-54 to NBCUniversal’s freshman talker, Steve Harvey. Stations that air the show are looking to see some improvement.
As Miskowiec, who says she has a “freakish” passion for daytime and is “very competitive,” pursues growth for Katie, she will keep her new team working through the summer while most syndicated talk shows go dark. Katie, which plans to keep on shooting until July 26, is taking just six weeks off until the show’s season-two premiere.
In an exclusive interview with B&C contributing editor Paige Albiniak, the veteran daytime producer (Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers, Tyra Banks, The Ricki Lake Show) says she plans to “block out the noise” of the scrutiny as she gets Couric out of the studio and into the field more, exposes new aspects of the talk host that viewers don’t yet know and continues to pursue big “get” interviews. She also reveals one thing that would break Couric’s heart. An edited transcript of the interview follows.
You essentially got hired one day and started executive producing the show the next. That’s tricky in its own right, but this is also a show that comes under a lot of media scrutiny. How do you handle the pressure?
I love it. I live and die for daytime television. I have loved it for 20 years. I don’t see it as a scary thing. I see it as a challenge. I’m very competitive, and I very much want the show to grow under my watch. I just block out the noise and go forward.
What is it about daytime television that you love so much?
Every single day that I come to work I get to do whatever I want creatively. It’s the most fulfilling thing in life. I get so excited when the producers come in and say, look what we’ve booked. I have a passion for it that’s kind of freakish. I can make 195 episodes of television on anything I want.
Doesn’t producing 195 episodes a year terrify you?
No way. This is what I do. When I wake up in the morning, I’m immediately thinking about what’s coming up next on the show for the day.
What are your plans for the second season ofKatie?
I have a very clear vision for her and I’m hoping that we can grow together. I feel that America is still getting to know her. I feel like there are aspects and sides of her that we haven’t shown the world yet. And she’s so fun out in the world. I’m hoping to get her out of the studio more this year.
Some of Katie’s biggest ratings successes last year were with big gets, such the interview with Manti Te’o, he of the fabricated online girlfriend. Is that something you plan to continue in season two?
Absolutely. Katie’s gets are absolutely enormous for the show, and no one does them better than Katie. She makes things happen in interviews that don’t happen anywhere else. She gets people to open up in ways that they otherwise don’t. I feel like Katie is a safe place. We are excellent in our booking. We are very honest about what’s going to happen here. People feel like they can have a smart conversation with her.
Two coexecutive producers and a director are leaving the show. What do you have to say about that?
Launches are tricky, and this staff has done an amazing job of launching this show. They’ve all done work that deserves kudos. When a new leader comes in, there’s always going to be change. I’m going to do things differently and streamline things. There’s no nefarious reason behind it, it’s just a matter of change.
Katie has been pretty clear that the center of her interests remains news. Is that still going to be a big part of the show next year?
Katie likes all of it—entertainment, celebrity, music and news. If I turned to her tomorrow and said, ‘We’re only doing celebrity and never doing a big story again,’ that would be heartbreaking to her.
E-mail comments to email@example.com and follow her on Twitter: @PaigeA
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