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Katie Couric, Sarah Palin, Oprah Winfrey put twists on morning TV

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Updated: May 3, 2012 8:13AM

Things are going to be fun this week in the morning TV wars.

With former “Today” co-anchor Katie Couric guest-hosting on her old rival, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and “Today” and “CBS This Morning” fighting back with a few twists of their own, the three network bosses are doing all they can to snare viewers’ eyeballs.

After Couric jumped from NBC to CBS in 2006 to become the first female sole anchor of a broadcast network’s evening newscast, she never hosted — and only rarely made any appearances on — the network’s morning show.

“That was not surprising,” said a longtime Couric associate Sunday, who agreed to be interviewed anonymously, as she was not authorized to speak for the veteran TV star.

“When Katie moved to CBS, it was extremely important to her to make her mark — and be taken seriously by the audience — as a nightly news anchor. She felt, and most people around her agreed, that she needed to cut the cord — so to speak — to morning television.

“She had been such a morning show staple for so many years, she had to carve out that new niche in the evenings.”

Now that she’s moved on to ABC — six years after her “Today” departure — enough time has passed to make Couric comfortable sitting back at a morning show anchor desk, the source said.

“Besides, her new role at ABC will be very different, and this week on ‘Good Morning America’ will be a great way to tease that morning audience to watch her new weekday talk show that launches this fall.”

To fight back, CBS morning co-anchor Gayle King has secured her decades-long BFF Oprah Winfrey to come in for an interview Monday. What is intriguing has been CBS’ promotional angle, touting Winfrey opening up to King about many aspects about her personal life — things she has not previously addressed.

Meanwhile, over at NBC, the “Today” honchos did not take lightly the Couric coup by “GMA.” Along with promising a major “legend” as a Monday guest, they also came up with a bit of a Couric tweak.

Sarah Palin, who famously clashed with Couric during a 2008 interview while the then-Alaska governor was running for vice president, has been tapped to guest co-host on “Today” Tuesday — a bit of an ironic match-up against Couric on “GMA.”

Other high-profile guests “Today” has slated for this week include Kim Kardashian, “Octomom” Nadya Suleman, Tori Spelling, part-time Chicagoans and TV personalities Guiliana and Bill Rancic — plus a performance by hot singer Nicki Minaj.

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