"It feels a little strange," Katie Couric said as she made her dizzyingly hyped return to morning television on Monday.
Couric could be forgiven for the sentiment, since she was appearing not on "Today," the show that made her famous, but on its archrival "Good Morning America," as what is undoubtedly the most intense week in the long-running morning show wars for some time kicked off with a bang.
Couric is guest-hosting the show for the week as Robin Roberts takes a vacation. She has not been a member of NBC News for six years, but her stint sent shockwaves through the cutthroat morning news world.
"Today" responded aggressively, booking an unnamed "legend" from its past for its Monday show, and --even more audaciously--getting Sarah Palin to co-host its Tuesday show. (That legend was revealed to be Meredith Vieira.)
All of this occurs against the high-pressured backdrop of ratings and money. "Good Morning America" is within striking distance of breaking the 16-year "Today" ratings winning streak. Both shows make boatloads of money for their respective networks, and each news division takes those ratings extremely seriously.
"GMA" treated Couric like visiting royalty, with every co-host and correspondent being sure to mention her presence and with a pre-taped skit showing her downing coffee cup after coffee cup to avoid falling back asleep. The show also had some fun with her NBC legacy, with another sketch showing her car driving her to the "Today" studios instead of the "GMA" digs.
Lauer co-hosts NBC's "Today" from 7-9 a.m.
Guthrie co-hosts NBC's "Today" from 7-9 a.m.
Roberts co-hosts ABC's "Good Morning America" from 7-9 a.m.
Stephanopoulos co-hosts ABC's "Good Morning America" from 7-9 a.m.
Rose co-hosts "CBS This Morning" from 7-8 a.m. CBS announced the addition of Rose and Gayle King and a decidedly focused hard news program earlier this year.
King co-hosts "CBS This Morning" from 8-9 a.m.
Doocy co-hosts Fox News' "Fox and Friends" from 6-9 a.m. "Fox and Friends" dominates cable news morning shows.
Carlson co-hosts Fox News' "Fox and Friends" from 6-9 a.m.
Kilmeade co-hosts Fox News' "Fox and Friends" from 6-9 a.m.
Scarborough co-hosts MSNBC's "Morning Joe" from 6-9 a.m. "Morning Joe" focuses solely on hard news and political commentary.
Brzezinski co-hosts MSNBC's "Morning Joe" from 6-9 a.m.
O'Brien co-hosts CNN's 7-9 a.m. morning news program. CNN's "American Morning" fell behind MSNBC and even its own HLN. The network recently announced the return of O'Brien and the replacement of "Amerian Morning" with two new morning programs.
Sambolin co-hosts CNN's 5-7 a.m. morning news program.