Katie Couric Shoots Promo for New Talk Show “Katie” in Jersey City

It seems that even when she’s off the clock, Katie Couric can’t help but dispense useful advice.

The erstwhile “Today” and “CBS Evening News” host and griller of Sarah Palin, Couric came to Jersey City July 13 and 14 to film a “promo spot” for her new daytime talker, “Katie.” And between scenes, she found time to pass along sun safety tips to at least one local.

Pat Devaney, coordinator for the Hamilton Park Summer Basketball League, spotted Couric behind one of the baskets as he was setting up for practice. He and his coworker, Regina Terriogo, asked for a photo with Couric, and about 20 minutes later, the TV journalist came over and introduced herself. Devaney remembers being surprised by what Couric said next. “All of a sudden she points at my face and says, ‘You know, Pat. You’ve been in the sun too long. You need sunblock.’”

“Katie” is an hour-long live show that will include interviews with stars and segments about pop culture, aging, fashion and sex. Sheryl Crow provides the theme song, titled “This Day.”

Hamilton Park was chosen for the spot because it offered several things the crew needed in close proximity, according to Paul Siverman, developer of Hamilton Square: a park, yoga studio, crossing guard and place large enough to feed the dozens of people involved in filming (St. Michael’s Church). Silverman says the production manager was familiar with the park, having filmed there a few years earlier. He was told the crew also filmed at Newport Mall.

“Katie was delightful. So approachable, great sense of humor and she just had time to talk to everybody,” he says.

Though Couric has been associated with NBC and CBS for much of her career, “Katie” will air on ABC beginning Sept. 10. She became a special correspondent for the station after her contract with “CBS Evening News” expired last June, and has since guested on “The View,” “Live! With Regis and Kelly,” and “Good Morning America.” Her new solo jaunt is expected to be an Oprah-inspired hour of daytime inspiration.

After the photo with Devaney and Terriogo, Couric took a turn on the basketball court.

“She went to one of the baskets and just started shooting. She missed once, shot again, and you wouldn’t believe it, it went swish — backwards,” says Devaney.

“Then she started taking a couple jump shots. She had clogs on. What is she, 60? [She’s 55.] I’m 53 and I don’t even get off the ground.”

Terriogo says Couric was the nicest celebrity that she ever met at the park. “Some celebrities, they don’t want to be bothered, they just like to do their little thing,” she says, citing the cast of “Mercy,” the ill-fated hospital drama that filmed throughout Jersey City. “They weren’t personable at all.” But Couric, she says, “just fit in like she was one of the crowd.”

During one segment, Couric approached a dog walker with six “beautiful dogs,” says Silverman, and tried to put a flyer for her series into a dog’s mouth; when this didn’t work, she put the flyer into the mouth of the dog walker. In another, she put flyers between the toes of yogis at Hamilton Health and Fitness. (The participants weren’t Hamilton Park residents, but actors.)

Caroline Cho-Pombo, manager at Smith & Chang, also had a brush with Couric when she briefly came into the Hamilton Square store during her visit.

“She was looking at the matchboxes right in front of the register, and she said she has exactly the same one with a starfish,” recalls Cho-Pombo. “I think she said her house or apartment is decorated with a nautical theme.”

No word yet on when the promo spot will air, says “Katie” publicist Elizabeth Wasden. The new show debuts Sept. 10, so “between now and then.”

More importantly, is Couric interested in doing the reverse commute on a daily basis?

“You never know,” if Couric will return to Jersey City, says Wasden. “The show will have a mix of all sorts of topics and all sorts of people, so we might find ourselves in New Jersey at a later date, but as of now we don’t have any plans to be back there.”

UPDATE: You can watch the promo here.

Additional reporting by Jennifer Weiss

Top photo courtesy of the Hamilton Park Summer Basketball League; photo of Katie Couric at Hamilton Health and Fitness courtesy of Paul Silverman

a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in the Village Voice, Time Out New York, the Star-Ledger, GO Magazine and other publications.