Katie Couric Was Almost Palin-Pranked for April Fools’ Day

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Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Note to Katie Couric's staff: You'd better start coming up with bigger and better ways to prank your boss on April Fools' Day. Like, start planning for next year now.

Yesterday, the talk-show host put in the effort to get both her staff and her audience good, she told Intelligencer at the New York Observer's redesign launch party at Casa Lever. "I actually pretended I was throwing up before my show and asked my makeup artist to please get me a trash can. And everybody got so upset and nervous. And I also told my audience that George Clooney was on the show! And it was a major buzzkill when I said, 'April Fools!'"

But only one staffer dared to try to get her back.

Couric, like Clooney, is a lover of pranks. Past triumphs have included putting cayenne in her daughter's Raisin Bran (she couldn't tell because she never wears her glasses in the morning) and Alfredo sauce in her daughter's friend's conditioner bottle. "I kept saying, 'Your hair smells so good!' She was completely clueless," said Couric, cackling. "I think that sounds a little sadistic in retrospect, but it was funny. Nobody got hurt."

So she expects the same level of deviousness and dedication from those around her. "And I was very disappointed that the staff didn't do anything really back to me," she said. There was, however, a brave soul who tried, and told her that Sarah Palin wanted "to come on the show to talk about abstinence with her daughter Bristol," said Couric. "I was like, 'Really?!' They strung me along for a while. I thought it was within the realm of possibilities."

After all, Bristol is an abstinence advocate. But it's a bit of a stretch to think Sarah herself would want to be anywhere in Couric's vicinity. In fact, she hasn't been since that infamous "I can see Russia from my house!" interview moment in 2008. "I see her when she's on television occasionally," said Couric. But, "No, I haven't run into her anywhere," she laughed. "I think we run in different circles."

What would Couric say if she ran into Sarah Palin now? She thought for a minute and beamed: "'Hi!' And, uh, I think I would take my cues from her." Would be a little awkward? She laughed. "Yeah, potentially."

Speaking of potentially awkward, Couric spent much of the night holed up in a corner gabbing with old pal Matt Lauer rather than working the room. They're still close, she said, plus, "It's fun to run into anyone you know at something like this, so you can immediately glom onto them and have someone to talk to."

"Let's face it," she said, "we're all insecure."