Dan Gross: Katie Couric feels 'terrible' for old pal Ann Curry

Posted: August 30, 2012

KATIE COURIC says the abrupt dismissal of Ann Curry from the "Today" show made her feel "terrible" for her former colleague.

"I felt really bad for Ann. I still don't understand why they didn't give her sort of a proper send-off," Couric told us Tuesday morning at the Four Seasons, where she stopped to promote her new talk show, "Katie," which premieres at 3 p.m. Sept. 10 on ABC.

"Ann did some extraordinary work during her time there. It was just not the best chapter in the 'Today' show. It made me sad for the institution," Couric said.

These days, Couric is more focused on her new show than her former show, and says the talk show will cover both "serious issues and lighter issues."

For example, Jessica Simpson and Sheryl Crow are slated as guests on the Sept. 10 premiere, and Couric also plans to do a whole show on military suicides.

"July was the deadliest month for our soldiers taking their lives. I think that's an important topic," Couric said, before reassuring, "I'm not gonna go all PBS on you. I'm gonna also be doing topics that are pure fun. There are fun topics you can cover intelligently."

Barbra Streisand, Sofia Vergara, Chelsea Handler and Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James are among guests in her the first few weeks of "Katie."

Couric cited Oprah Winfrey as talk-host inspiration for her.

"But when people say, 'Are you the new Oprah?' I say, 'No, I'm the old Katie,' " she added.

Specter confirms cancer

"I am battling cancer, and it's another battle I intend to win," former senator Arlen Specter said in a statement his office issued Tuesday.

We reported on Philly.com Monday afternoon that Specter was hospitalized with a serious illness, but at that time his family and his office declined to comment.

"I am grateful for the well wishes I have received and I am looking forward to getting back to work, to the comedy stage, the squash court and the ballpark," said Specter, an avid Phillies fan, in his media statement Tuesday.

Specter, 82, announced in 2005 that he had Hodgkin's disease for which he underwent chemotherapy. His cancer returned and he was treated again in 2008.

Cooper rides a motorcycle

Bradley Cooper rode his Ducati motorcycle into the city Monday afternoon from his mother Gloria's home in Rydal.

Mom was in the house Monday night at the Prince Music Theater, where the Philadelphia Film Society hosted a premiere screening of "The Words," which opens in theaters Sept. 7.

Cooper's childhood pals Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal co-wrote and co-directed the film.

The invite-only screening was full of the group's friends, including Matt and Bret Levy, who own Benny the Bum's (9991 Bustleton).

Cooper, Sternthal and Klugman skipped the movie in favor of catching up for drinks and dinner at the Ritz-Carlton, then returned for a Q&A session. Cooper revealed that an untitled David O. Russell film, in which he will star with Amy Adams, will begin shooting in Philadelphia next spring.

"The Silver Linings Playbook," which Cooper and Russell shot in town last year, opens this fall.

Don't miss our video interview with Cooper and his cohorts this afternoon at PhillyGossip.com.

Vesper Club to Racquet Club

The Vesper Club, an old hangout of the late mayor Frank Rizzo's, has moved from its home of 75 years on the 200 block of South Sydenham Street to an address a block away, inside the Racquet Club (215 S. 16th). Spokesman Hillel Levinson expects what they're calling a "Club within a club"to be up and running by Sept. 4.


Jason Mraz played a surprise set at One Shot Coffee in Northern Liberties Sunday afternoon. The singer/guitarist played Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden Sunday night with Bensalem native Christina Perri. * Charles Barkley was interviewed by a Japanese TV crew Tuesday over lunch at Chops (401 City Ave.) in Bala Cynwyd, one of the basketball great's frequent haunts. * Flyers Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Zac Rinaldo hung out backstage with former Flyer Riley Cote at his Hemp Heals Foundation's concert with Cypress Hill and Sublime Saturday at Festival Pier. Flyers equipment manager Derek "Nasty" Settlemyre, porn actor/director Travis Knight and wealth manager Al Heaton also enjoyed the concert with the players.

Contact Dan Gross at

grossd@phillynews.com or 215-854-5963. Follow him on Twitter @PhillyGossip or at Facebook.com/dangrossphillygossip. Read his blog at PhillyGossip.com, or for his latest columns see philly.com/dangross.

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