Yes, Katie Couric is leaving NBC: After a clip from her first day on "Today" 15 years ago -- when she still went by Katherine -- and a jokey set-up from Matt Lauer, Katie Couric announced Wednesday morning that she's indeed leaving the show for other pastures.
Couric: I wanted to tell all of you out there who have watched the show for the past 15 years that after listening to my heart and my gut -- two things that have served me pretty well in the past -- I've decided I'll be leaving 'Today' at the end of May. It was really a very difficult decision for a lot of different reasons ... It's been such an honor and a privilege to occupy this seat as long as I have ... But sometimes I think change is a good thing. Although it may be terrifying to get out of your comfort zone, it's also very exciting to start a new chapter in your life. So for now, it's not goodbye, at least not yet, but a heartfelt 'thank you' for 15 great years.
Lauer: Also coming up in this half hour ... (Laughter) ... I'm looking [at her papers on the desk] -- does it say anywhere in there about where you're going?
Couric: At this point, I'm thinking about opening up a secondhand bookstore in Montana.
Lauer: If you were a guest on the show, I wouldn't let you get away without saying, 'So, what are your plans?'
Couric: I know it's the worst-kept secret in America, but I'm going to be working on "The CBS Evening News" and "60 Minutes."
Tom Cruise as "The Pacifier": In Star magazine's newest, chock-full-o'-babies issue, there's an interesting story on how Tom Cruise plans to help Katie Holmes follow Scientology's guidelines -- designed, according to L. Ron Hubbard, to "save both the sanity of the mother and the child and safeguard the home to which they will go" -- of strict silence during birth: By getting her an adult pacifier. "He commissioned an adult-sized 'binky' for her to clench between her teeth, hoping that it'll squelch her screams," a source told Star. "In keeping with a Scientology silent birth, Tom is prepared to do whatever it takes to muffle Katie's moans and groans during the delivery." (Lowdown, Star)
More trouble in the Pitt-Clooney paradise? After the signs a few weeks ago that not all was well between Brad Pitt and George Clooney, now TMZ reports that Clooney is "steamed" that Pitt allegedly backed out as an investor in the new Vegas casino Clooney's planning. "The 'Ocean's Eleven' costars were investors in Las Ramblas, a $3 billion, 11-building complex off the Las Vegas Strip," writes the Web site. "But Pitt soon soured on the deal, leaving Clooney to partner with Cindy Crawford's club-owning husband, Rande Gerber." But maybe not so fast -- a source tells Rush & Molloy that Pitt was never an investor, and Clooney's rep says, "Any talk of friction is fiction." As for Clooney's Vegas dreams: "Since our controlling partners wanted to sell the space," he told Rush & Molloy, "I'll donate my profits from the sale to the African Debt Relief Project -- and I guess I'll find someplace else to gamble." (TMZ, Rush & Molloy)
After getting a personal note of apology from Hugh Hefner about running her photo on a recent cover without permission, Jessica Alba has dropped her suit against Playboy. "I appreciate Mr. Hefner's acknowledgement of the distress caused by Playboy's actions and I'm happy to put this unfortunate event behind me," she says. (Us Online) ... Cameron Diaz has won her suit against a photographer who took photos of her topless at 19 and recently tried to sell them back for $3.5 million. (Associated Press) ... Indian film director T. Rajeevnath is still on his insane quest to cast Paris Hilton as Mother Teresa for an upcoming film, maintaining, "Her features resemble Mother Teresa." (AFP via Yahoo! News) ... A 24-year-old singer in the U.K. has been signed to Sony Records solely on the strength of her webcam performances. (CNN) ... Death Row Records head Marion "Suge" Knight filed for Chapter 11 in a federal court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and the company itself is expected to follow suit soon -- both moves appear to be an effort to head off a $100 million settlement in favor of Lydia Harris, who claims to be the rightful half-owner of the company. (TMZ)
Geena Davis on how her hopes that Hollywood would open up to more movies about women never came true: "We can't seem to catch momentum. After 'Thelma & Louise,' everyone said there would be a bunch of female buddy movies. There weren't. 'A League of Their Own' was a giant hit, so there were going to be so many female sports movies. There wasn't one until 'Bend It Like Beckham,' and that wasn't even an American movie and it was 10 years later." (ContactMusic)
-- Scott Lamb
The race continues on CBS's "The Amazing Race" (8 p.m. EDT), in a new time slot, while PBS premieres the miniseries "Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures" (8 p.m. EDT), and Sharon Stone is on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" (NBC, 11:35 p.m. EDT).
-- Joe DiMento