Katie Couric Turnaround Possible | Wham! George Michael Makes a Comeback | Hillary's Starless Night; Friday a Fields Day?

Katie Couric Turnaround Possible

Friday’s New York Times suggests that Katie Couric might be leaving the "CBS Evening News" within weeks instead of next year after the presidential inauguration.

Thursday night, I appeared on FOX Business News with the eloquent David Asman to muse about Katie’s predicament. Is she a lame duck? Or can she turn this around?

My suspicion is that there’s a lot of life left in Couric’s network anchoring job. But mass hysteria isn’t going to help.

For one, the political conventions are designed to play to her strengths. There will be more than enough occasions to show off her best "Today" show skills.

Night and day for four days straight during each convention, she’s going to be able to interview a wide variety of people from the CBS booth. Election night will be the same thing — lots of chit chat, interviews, analysis, far from a TelePrompter. It’s what Katie does best.

The reality is that since Couric’s ascendancy to the anchor desk, there has not been a major catastrophe in the news for her to show her chops. Brian Williams was able to demonstrate his capabilities during Hurricane Katrina. And Charlie Gibson already had the avuncular newsman routine down when he took over for Bob Woodward and Elizabeth Vargas after the pair’s abrogated duet.

Indeed, who knows that Vargas and Woodruff wouldn’t have had just as difficult a time as Couric? They — and we — never got the chance to figure out what would happen.

It would be more interesting to find out who at CBS started leaking the negative stuff about Katie this week. Last year, I told you that Bob Schieffer and Lesley Stahl had been fingered for churning up the briny seas in Black Rock. Were they to blame again, or was it someone else?

In any case, let Katie do her job, I say.

Wham! George Michael Makes a Comeback

Can '80s rock superstar George Michael stage a comeback? Next week, we’re going to get the best idea of this yet.

Michael has had a greatest-hits box-set album in stores since last Tuesday, with six new tracks. It’s already sold 31,000 copies, which isn’t bad for a 2-CD set that retails for $19.99. It’s called "Twenty Five," to commemorate the singer’s quarter-century — believe it or not — on the charts.

Michael’s big comeback is pegged, in no small part, to a TV show. If you haven’t caught it yet, the ABC drama "Eli Stone" not only features Michael’s music every week, but every episode is named for one of his songs.

Next Thursday, Michael will appear on the show as himself and sing one of the songs. Talk about a free 60-minute commercial! Talk about synergy! The "Eli Stone" Web site even has a link to Michael’s iTunes page.

Then there’s a tour this summer. Tickets are on sale, and interest is building steadily in the former Wham! lead singer with a sketchy recent past. Michael went from being a pin-up for teen girls in the '80s to a gay icon with a nasty penchant for getting into legal trouble for sex and drug hijinks. But the music world can be forgiving if you just can get a hit.

Thanks to hooking up with Michael Lippmann, the genius manager who’s guided Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas, Michael has a shot. On the three-CD greatest hits album, he’s got an incredibly catchy duet with Paul McCartney called "Heal the Pain" and another one with the warbling Mary J. Blige, a terrific cover of Stevie Wonder’s "As" that Lippman and Sony Music should be able to turn into a hit (it was a hit 10 years ago overseas).

So George Michael is back. If the Police and Led Zeppelin can do it, why not him, I guess? Maybe when he gets to the U.S. he can tell us whatever happened to the other guy from Wham!

Hillary's Starless Night; Friday a Fields Day?

Reports from Elton John’s concert fundraiser for Hillary Clinton at Radio City have all been the same: It was an audience devoid of any celebrities or stars. The Clinton campaign is so disorganized and arrogant that it has managed to turn off the big guns of Clinton campaigns of the past, the people who could have helped her.

The campaign says it raised $2.5 million, but the theme of the night may have been more "Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me" than "The Bitch Is Back." The latter would have helped.

The stars, obviously, were more comfortable either at Paul Simon’s African concert at BAM, or with Phil Donahue at the premiere of his extraordinary documentary, "Body of War," which opens this weekend around the country. ...

Hollywood heavyweight attorney Bert Fields may be called to the witness stand Friday in the Anthony Pellicano trial — by the defense. Even though the prosecution failed to question him, now defense attorney Chad Hummel — representing defendant Mark Arneson — may grill Fields in effort to help his client.

This would leave open the door for the cross-examination of all time by assistant District Attorney Dan Saunders. If he blows it, and doesn’t ask Fields the questions everyone’s been dying to hear, the whole case will seem like it was a fishing expedition for nothing.

But before that, Pellicano says he will call only one witness in his defense, and wrap up his case in 30 minutes. Pellicano’s odd self-defense will end as strangely as it began. Just hope that whoever he’s protecting comes through for him one day…