Some enchanted evenings are better than others. As music from the John Pizzarelli jazz trio filled the air at Manhattan's Regency Hotel in early June, Katie Couric and her TV exec beau, Tom Werner, sat down at about 8:15 p.m. at a small candlelit table and ordered a dessert to share. In a youthful jean jacket over a pink T-shirt, Couric "looked beautiful," says a guest in the lounge. For the next hour she and her date "just seemed to be in sync and very happy together."
They were. Which is why, two years after Couric, 45, and Werner, 52, fell for each other on a blind date set up by mutual friends, their decision to call off their romance a few days after their Regency evening has left them both, as a Werner pal puts it, "feeling blue." Says a colleague of his: "They're both so in love. But they were at a crossroads. 'Where do we go from here?' was constantly tugging at them."
Literally. For Couric—whose husband, Jay Monahan, died of colon cancer at age 42 in 1998—home is a sunny four-bedroom apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where her daughters Ellie, 10, and Carrie, 6, go to school. The Today show (where cohost Couric recently signed a $65 million, 41/2-year contract) is just a 10-minute limo ride away. For Werner, who made his estimated $600 million fortune producing such hit sitcoms as The Cosby Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun (and who split from Jill, his wife of 28 years, in 2000, shortly before meeting Couric), home is L.A. At first the strength of their bond alleviated the bicoastal jet lag. The couple also rendezvoused in Boston, where he is part owner of the Red Sox; Salt Lake City, where she covered the Winter Olympics in February; and Hawaii, where Couric and her daughters met up with Werner and his daughter Amanda, 13, for a vacation in March. But in the end, says a Couric crony, "it just became too hard." Adds a Werner friend: "They both felt they deserved to be in a loving relationship with someone they could see every day."
Couric, who has said she likes "being in a relationship," seems to have slipped easily back into her regular—if now single—routine. Chatting with pals over her usual zuppa di pesce at New York's Vico Ristorante last week, says manager Michael Canali, the vacationing Couric was her old friendly self. At the Pierre Hotel, where on June 17 she spoke at an antismoking gathering, she made a cheerful wisecrack about cohost Matt Lauer's new buzz haircut. In L.A., meanwhile, Werner has been "hanging around with his friends and kids and going to work every day," says a friend. He and Couric are said to be close still. "And who knows?" says designer Nicole Miller, a Couric pal. "Sometimes a breakup is a way of clearing out the problems and you see what you really want or need." Agrees another friend: "Katie and Tom could still figure out the puzzle and get back together."
Karen S. Schneider
KC Baker, Rachel Felder and Rebecca Paley in New York City and Rachel Biermann in Los Angeles
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