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    Katie Couric Ready to Bail From CBS News, Rep Says...But Does She Want to Be Next Oprah?

    Katie Couric Zuma Press

    Anchor's away...almost.

    Katie Couric is likely leaving her chair at the CBS Evening News just shy of her five-year anniversary of becoming the first solo network evening news anchor, her rep confirms to E! News.

    And Couric, who has not officially announced her intentions, apparently has an interesting future in the works.

    MORE: Whoa! Katie was photoshopped to look slimmer!

    The 54-year-old has long been rumored to be in talks with other network bigwigs in advance of her June 4 contract expiration, and now she's expected to launch a syndicated talk show of her own.

    Several production companies are said to be jockeying for her services in the post-Oprah Winfrey era, with a targeted launch date of fall 2012.

    "It's still too early, but it will be a smart, engaged show that's very topical," a source familiar with the situation told E! News. "She felt confined in this role she had."

    The Glee guest star was still having "ongoing discussions" with CBS until as recently as Sunday, said CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair.

    "We have no announcements to make at this time," she said. "Until we do, we will continue to decline comment on rumor or speculation." 

    Couric's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, seconded that with a "ditto" and told E! News that although nothing has been finalized or announced Couric should be announcing her decision within a few weeks.

    The peppy anchor, who was away last week on vacation, refused to discuss her future plans when she appeared on The Late Show With David Letterman when she was a guest on March 22.

    "Once you take that anchor chair, that's what you do," Letterman had scolded her. "Look at Walter Cronkite, look at Tom Brokaw, look at Brian Williams, look at Peter Jennings, look at all these people," Letterman said. "They get in it, they saddle up and they ride into the sunset."

    Couric, who in 2006 caused much controversy when she left NBC's Today Show, replied that she was "proud" of her work at CBS. When she took the chair, most critics questioned whether she could handle the solo gig. The ratings soon bore that out as she fell into third place behind Williams at NBC's Nightly News and Diane Sawyer at World News, and Couric's $15 million-a-year salary came under scrutiny.

    But she did have some highlights, including back-to-back Edward R. Murrow Award wins for CBS Evening News as the best newscast in 2008-09, the first interview with heroic Hudson pilot Chesley "Sulley" Sullenberger and, perhaps most famously, a grilling of an obviously overmatched Sarah Palin. Along the way her bosses repeatedly stood by her.

    A frantic search has already reportedly begun for Couric's replacement, with a few names being tossed around—all men. Internal candidates being discussed for the job include Russ Mitchell, Scott Pelley and Harry Smith. But none is a sure bet: the Associated Press reports new CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager is expected to extend his search outside the company.

    WATCH: Katie's nemesis in action!

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