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Tuning in to TV: Couric addresses graduates at U.Va.
Question of the Day
Television journalist Katie Couric urged University of Virginia graduates to take risks and persevere.
The former "Today" host and CBS News anchor addressed about 6,400 graduates on Sunday, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reports. She recounted the deaths of her husband and sister, both of whom died of cancer, and said, "Life can deal you some crushing blows, and we all need a deep reserve of resilience to survive."
Ms. Couric, now with ABC News and developing a daytime talk show, "Katie," that debuts Sept. 10, also joked about criticism she faced as the first female solo anchor of a network's nightly news program.
She quipped, "Some said I lacked 'gravitas,' which I've since decided is Latin for 'testicles.' "
Ms. Couric is a 1979 U.Va. graduate. The university's new cancer center is named for her sister Emily Couric, a Virginia state senator who died in 2001.
Weekend 'Today' anchor Robach heads to ABC
Weekend "Today" show anchor Amy Robach is jumping from NBC News to ABC.
ABC said Monday that Ms. Robach will be a news correspondent based in New York. She has been the co-anchor of the weekend "Today" edition since 2007.
Ms. Robach worked in local news in the District; Charleston, S.C.; and Athens, Ga., before joining MSNBC as a daytime anchor in 2003.
ABC News President Ben Sherwood called Ms. Robach a "tenacious and skilled reporter" who has covered stories including Hurricane Katrina and the death of former President Ronald Reagan.
Food Network veteran cooks up YouTube channel
Bruce Seidel is confident the future of food television won't be seen on television.
Which is why the Food Network and Cooking Channel veteran has checked out of network TV to oversee the launch of YouTube's latest original content channel, Hungry. The channel, which goes live July 2, is expected to feature a freewheeling blend of how-to and celebrity-driven food videos.
The venture is part of the Google Inc.-owned video site's plan to launch roughly 100 channels of niche-oriented programming. Earlier this month, YouTube pledged to spend some $200 million to help market those channels across Google and its advertising network.
Mr. Seidel said he was drawn to the project in part for YouTube's ability to create a more direct community with viewers than generally is possible with network television. It also offered more flexibility not just for viewers, but also for producers, who can more easily experiment with format and content.
YouTube also offers an enviably large and young demographic, truly the icing on advertisers' cake.
"The wonderful thing about YouTube is it has 800 million users worldwide and they all need to eat," Mr. Seidel said in a telephone interview. "I'd like to get just 1 percent of them."
YouTube content historically has been dominated by low- and no-budget user-generated videos. But Mr. Seidel, a former top executive at Food Network who oversaw the launch of its sister network, Cooking Channel, said Hungry will feature professionally produced videos worthy of any network.
At launch, videos will stick mostly with YouTube convention, running one to three minutes, with new episodes posted weekly. Mr. Seidel said they also are eager to explore longer-format videos. By the end of the summer, the channel hopes to have close to a dozen series, all produced in partnership with multimedia studio Electus, which is responsible for the channel's content.
One of the series will feature fellow Food Network alumnus Duff Goldman, the Baltimore cake master behind that channel's reality show "Ace of Cakes." Mr. Goldman's YouTube program, "Duff's Food World," will be a sometimes irreverent variety show focused on food pop culture, including visits to unusual restaurants and spotlights of humorous food clips from the web and TV.
Mr. Goldman also will serve as a talent and programming consultant for Hungry. In that role, he said he is eager to push food television both forward and backward.
"Basically, the cooking show on television is almost dead," he said. "When you look at the programming on any kind of cable food channel, you kind of find that everything is being replaced by travelogues, competition, reality. There is not a lot of instruction."
YouTube's ability to promote a simple two-minute video on how to roast a chicken — something simply not done on network television — is just as alluring as creating content that pushes boundaries, Mr. Goldman said.
Other series already in production include "Brothers Green," which features two Brooklyn brothers who are musicians and "underground caterers" tackling new culinary challenges every week, and "Casserole Queens," which focuses on two Austin, Texas, women who favor retro food and entertaining.
Flexing its ability to focus on micro-niches, Hungry also plans series on pork, gluten-free cooking and Italian desserts.
The point is to simply try new things, Mr. Goldman said. If it works, it will continue. If it doesn't, it won't.
'Community' creator no longer in control of show
Dan Harmon will be staying on with "Community" — but only as a consulting producer.
The NBC series, which recently was renewed for a fourth 13-episode season, has tapped TV scribes David Guarascio and Moses Port as co-showrunners and executive producers, sources confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter.
Mr. Harmon's status had been in flux since the low-rated comedy's renewal and move from Thursdays to Fridays, with NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt openly unsure of his role in the future of the series when speaking with reporters ahead of the network's upfront presentation.
Mr. Guarascio and Mr. Port most recently served as consulting producers on another Sony Pictures TV series "Happy Endings."
The frequently outspoken Mr. Harmon drew a great deal of media attention earlier in the year when he leaked an unflattering voicemail from series star Chevy Chase.
• Compiled from Web and wire reports
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