Reagan Arthur, publisher of Little, Brown and Company, announced today the acquisition of Unexpected, a memoir from Katie Couric, one of the most celebrated and beloved journalists of our time. Judy Clain, Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown and Company, acquired North America rights from Suzanne Gluck of William Morris Endeavor; publication is slated for spring 2021.
Katie Couric said, “I’ve been privileged to lead an extraordinary life, one that I never anticipated. I’ve experienced so much, both professionally and personally, but have never really had an opportunity to reveal what was going on behind the scenes. I’m excited to share what it was like being at the center of so many historic events and game-changing stories. I’m also ready to talk about the fascinating and sometimes challenging people with whom I’ve worked, the radical transformation of my industry, and the heartbreaking losses I’ve endured. It feels like now is the right time to look back, reflect, and consider what I’ve learned and how those lessons might help others.”
Judy Clain said, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Katie Couric. What a perfect moment for a transparent memoir about a career in journalism from one of the most respected and recognized women in media today. Staying in the game is not a given, but Katie has evolved along with a changing media landscape and continued to contribute to the national conversation by consistently producing high-quality work that reflects her humanity and heart. She will write with her trademark humor and candor about her journey, which continues.”
For much of her 40-year career, Katie Couric has been the subject of endless fascination—her face on the cover of countless magazines, her career dissected in unauthorized biographies, her love life picked apart in supermarket tabloids. Now, with Unexpected, she’s ready to tell her own story, in her own words, her way.
Couric will look back on her extraordinary career—a journey that led her to the very top of an intensely competitive, male-dominated industry. She will share the often hilarious, sometimes humiliating details of breaking into the business at ABC, where her principal duties included making coffee and fetching ham sandwiches for newsroom honchos like Frank Reynolds and Sam Donaldson, before moving on to CNN, where the then network president declared he “never wanted to see that girl on the air again.” She will reveal her proto-#MeToo brushes with workplace sexism, like the time a high-ranking executive commented on her breast size in front of the top brass during an editorial meeting; her scathing memo in response demonstrates the grit that would make Couric a singular force. She’ll recount the story of her dizzying rise to co-anchor of The Today Show at the age of 34—achieved while navigating a long-distance marriage and an unexpected pregnancy—as well as her early powerhouse partnership with 26-year-old boy wonder producer Jeff Zucker, today the president of CNN Worldwide. During her fifteen-year run, Couric helped catapult Today to number one and was a steady, trusted presence through some of the most turbulent moments in recent times, from the Gulf War to Columbine to 9/11 and beyond. Although her quick wit and girl-next-door charm would earn her the moniker “America’s Sweetheart,” at her core she was fiercely competitive—determined to transform morning television and set the agenda for the day.
In Unexpected, Couric won’t shy away from the enormous challenges she has faced: her battle with bulimia; the harrowing death of her husband, Jay Monahan, from colon cancer when he was just 42; losing her beloved and accomplished older sister, Emily, who many believed was on track to become the first female governor of Virginia, to pancreatic cancer four years later. She will also talk candidly about her occasionally crippling, lifelong feelings of insecurity, and the challenge so many women in power face: balancing being strong with the nagging need to be liked. In these pages she will spill the intriguing, little-known details of being wooed by Les Moonves to leave The Today Show and anchor CBS Evening News, and the less than warm welcome she received upon her arrival from some of her colleagues at the “Tiffany Network.” Couric will reveal the unapologetic Mad Men culture, ubiquitous in many news organizations, that led to revelations about some of the biggest names in the business, including her longtime co-anchor and friend Matt Lauer. And she’ll describe her failed efforts to follow in Oprah’s footsteps when she jumped into the treacherous waters of daytime syndication (Katie), and her misadventures as Yahoo global news anchor during CEO Marissa Mayer’s rocky tenure.
Through it all, Couric’s unparalleled skills as an interviewer never faltered, resulting in some of the most memorable moments in American journalism: grilling President George H. W. Bush about Iran-Contra when he unexpectedly showed up during Couric’s White House visit with his wife, Barbara; facilitating an unforgettable display of shared grief between two stricken relatives the morning after Columbine; infuriating President George W. Bush by asking his wife, Laura, her views on Roe v. Wade; ruffling the feathers of an unflappable Colin Powell by pressing him on WMDs; comforting Robert De Niro when he broke down in tears during a conversation about Silver Linings Playbook; and quite possibly changing the course of history when she interviewed vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, exposing the Alaska governor’s ignorance of public policy. Booking such big interviews is a story unto itself, and Couric will recount the often ridiculous behind-the-scenes machinations that went into scoring the many big “gets” throughout her career.
Behind the ambition and the countless successes, Couric is first and foremost a woman who did her best to weather personal hardship, and as a single mom raise two happy, grounded, independent young women against the disorienting backdrop of fame and privilege. She’ll also share how she finally—despite many false starts—found love after loss with her current husband, John Molner, as well as the health scare that made them wonder if their wedding would even happen. Now, notwithstanding the countless achievements, accolades and awards, Couric’s proudest accomplishments are her family and her tireless work on behalf of cancer patients everywhere. Sixty-two years in the making, Unexpected will be the inspiring, instructive, entertaining account of someone we all feel we know. And in some ways we do—but, as Unexpected will reveal, we don’t even know the half of it.