A recap of my time on the Katie Couric show

by Jessie K on January 14, 2013

A few people have asked me how Katie Couric found out about me. While I’d like to say it’s because she’s an avid reader of this blog, that would be an epic lie. In fact, I am 125 percent confident Katie Couric had never heard of me before Wednesdays taping and will in all likelihood never think of me again but let us not dwell on that.

Her producers got my name from my close friend Anna Holmes, founder of Jezebel.com and a fellow writer/author. Anna and I first became close when we worked together at Glamour magazine then a few years later at the tabloid Star. We’d pass each other in the hallways wearing equally bemused expressions, like, now why are we working here again?

Katie producers were looking for a women’s magazine veteran, someone with insight into that industry, but Anna was unavailable so she gave them my name as an alternate. The producer I spoke to liked my story [recounted in my book Rurally Screwed, buy your copies today]– how I went from Cosmo to the country, and the simplification of my life along the way — and thought I’d be a good fit with the other author in the segment, Phoebe Baker Price, author of The Beauty Experiment. Next thing I knew, I was bombing up to NYC in my dusty 4×4 Toyota pickup truck and checking into the famous Algonquin Hotel; two worlds collided.





Every time I go up to New York I feel like more of a tourist. The city has a way of shedding a skin, making it feel new and different to the point of unrecognizable with each passing visit. See: Guy Fieri’s new Times Square restaurant, located just down the block from the Algonquin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI almost wanted to go in for a bite, but decided not to.

A few other fun facts about the taping:

1) I wasn’t entirely make-up free

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know, I know — it defeats the purpose of an episode about abandoning cosmetics to appear on camera wearing foundation, concealer and a swipe of gloss but COME ON!  Despite what you may think, I am not a bag lady. I do not live in a tent. I’m not about to go on national television sporting big country eye bags deep enough to stash eggs in, an evil goat hair sprouting from my chin and a bloody scratch from Solha on my nose.  The staff makeup artist and I agreed on a very minimal, natural though “camera ready” look which turned out to be the best professional makeup job I’ve ever had. Every other time I’ve been professionally made up, I leave the chair feeling like Tammy Faye Baker’s second cousin off to make it big in Gatlinburg.

2) It’s pronounced “KERR-IC,” not “CORE-IC.”

My mom is the one who corrected me on this. She used to be a die hard Today Show watcher when Katie KERR-IC was co-anchor. I had the pronunciation corroborated by the staff makeup artist before I went on set.

3) I spent two days freaking out I had offended Katie Couric on national television

The most excruciating moment during the segment was when I revealed to Katie that I remember going through celebrity photographs for the infamous “Stars Without Makeup” feature for Star magazine and seeing her makeup-free visage. I told her she never made the final cut because she never looked “bad enough.” The audience audibly gasped. Katie told me to go back to Virginia. My soul died.

For the next two days before the segment aired, I wanted to throw myself off a bridge.  I had been trying to pay her a compliment — an admittedly clumsy, hackneyed one  — but the phrasing came out all wrong. I meant to say, “You never made the cut because you always looked too good.” Instead, I said “bad enough,” and “bad enough” just sounds, well, bad.

During the break, I apologized to Katie. She didn’t seem to care but I was convinced she was just being nice before I was ushered off set and thrown into a large fire. After the segment, I apologized to her producer who took it in stride and told me that if Katie truly didn’t like the unprompted moment, she would have it cut it from the final episode.

I left the ABC studios in a panic — what kind of jerk offends America’s sweetheart on her own show??? I called Jake, I called three of my closest friends, I called my agent and explained to them what happened. Each assured me in their own way it wasn’t that big of a deal with an overriding subtext of “you are kind of a jackass” and I shouldn’t lose sleep over it.

I didn’t sleep for two days. By the time I made it back to Virginia, I was a wreck. The day the episode was slated to air, a few close friends, my mom, Jake and I assembled at Applebees (which leads me to another fun fact)….

4) None of my friends have cable television or even TV so we all had to watch the episode at Applebees

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s me steadying my nerves with a Corona at 3 o’clock in the afternoon but I’m totally not an alcoholic. (Doesn’t June look cute?)

The Stars Without Makeup bit approached; I actually had to hold Jake’s hand in the lead up, I was so nervous. But they aired it! She didn’t cut it. And it didn’t come across as offensive or rude, just jokey and, um, kind of stupid. That she left it in suggests she felt similar? Maybe? Hopefully? Wishful thinking? Maybe I’ll stop talking now?

All in all, I’m happy with the way the segment turned out. Katie Couric and her team are so impressive, and they make it all look so easy. But the moral of the story is

5) Never, ever, EVER say anything remotely rude or offensive to a treasured American icon….especially on camera.

I can’t believe I actually just had to write that that, but life is full of obvious lessons for idiots, yes?

Watch episode highlights here (though I’m not sure they included the Stars Without Makeup bit). And make sure to watch Katie on ABC….even if you have to do it at Applebees.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Annette January 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm


Have you read “Women Who Think Too Much”? I get the idea that you are an “overthinker” (as am I). I would have taken your comment about not looking bad enough as a compliment. Or at least I would choose to think that is how you meant it. Of course, I am not Katie Couric but that’s my vote of confidence for you. Hope it helps!

Jessie K January 15, 2013 at 10:16 am


I think I need to read that book. Wait, is that overthinking it? 😉

Paula January 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm


You really should stop stressing. I understood what you meant as soon as you said that about Katie, and I’ll bet she did, too.

The tiny bit of makeup you wore was what makeup should be–just an undetectable bit of help to make us look our best. Not something that looks like we are painting on a canvas.

Oh, and I saw the show without cable. Haven’t had cable since we bought our first house. An antenna pays for itself very quickly.

Camilla January 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm


That is so cool JK! That totally sounds like something you would say and it wouldn’t be you if you didn’t stress over it for a few days lol.
I guess we’ll see you on Oprah next? Congratulations again xx

LindA January 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm


We laughed and laughed (after we gasped audibly out loud) and the laughed some more. It was such fun. You were honest and real and we (Trudy, Lornie and I) thought it was great. But next time I might think about following your ending advise!!! And yes, June was really cute. I just wished they might have plugged your book a little more.

Jessie K January 15, 2013 at 10:15 am


I do too! Maybe next time….when I’m on Conan. (I wish.) Thanks for tuning in, Linda!

Michelle January 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm


I saw it, loved it, never thought you were rude! I think Katie enjoyed talking to you, and I enjoyed watching you two!

Kelly Jenkins-Pultz January 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm


Hi Jessie, the show was a hoot. The footage of June was adorable, and it appears you may have the largest closet in rural America. You added some comic elements to the show and I think Katie took it all in stride.

Janelle January 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm


Oh my gosh. You’re a star! The “underwear” thing was so funny! I laughed so, so hard! And it was cool to see and hear you after I’ve only read your blog.

Jessie K January 16, 2013 at 9:22 am


I’m so glad you were able to tune in, Janelle!

Liz Templeton January 20, 2013 at 9:41 am


I watched and agree it was hysterical, very funny and very you! Katie seemed liked she enjoyed it . It was real. She will be the commencement speaker at Randolph Macon College in Ashland, VA on June 1st. My daughter Brooke is graduating. I will let you know if Katie mentions you! And yes, I wish Katie had more time to talk about your book….;)

Jessie K January 21, 2013 at 9:45 am


I have a feeling she won’t mention me — shocking, I know — but how great she is the commencement speaker! She is amazing. And thanks for the compliment!

Beth January 23, 2013 at 9:01 pm


I love that you don’t have TV! I too live in the country and the closest (and ONLY) restaurant is Applebees, about a half hour away. Have you tried their $1.00 brownie/ice cream desserts? Just sayin’… Anyway, you rock and you are WAY funnier than Katie Whatever Kerr-ic. I cannot wait to BUY (to support you) and read your book.

Jessie K January 25, 2013 at 2:26 pm


Well, I like the sound of that…the brownie/ice cream dessert at Applebees. ANd by all means, please buy my book. Buy several for all your friends. 😉

cynthia January 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm


i watched katie’s segment and thought your story was so interesting. i downloaded the book immediately. so many of us in the city know that if our life took a bit of a turn, we could have ended up in a very different place like you did. it’s something i think of often, being fairly well connected through my industry to many who live that life. maybe some day… i know it’s a hard, but wonderful life and very fulfilling. i loved the book! so glad you followed your heart. not everyone would have had the courage.

Jessie K January 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm


Thank you, Cynthia!

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