PARK CITY, Utah – Along with her soon-to-end daytime talk show, fall engagement and recent move from TV to the web as Yahoo’s global anchor, Katie Couric also made a documentary feature shown at Sundance.
“Fed Up” premiered Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival.
Couric linked up with “An Inconvenient Truth” producer Laurie David to make a film that explores the epidemic of childhood obesity and its not-so-obvious causes. Couric produced and narrates the film.
The 57-year-old TV anchor said she pitched David her idea over email, “and it took her about 10 seconds to say, ‘I’m in.”’
“Three seconds,” David said.
Couric said documentaries “are replacing journalism in some cases” because budget cuts and a taste for quick news bites means “nobody invests the time to really investigate some of the biggest social issues.” A collection of headlines doesn’t illuminate can’t illuminate an issue the way a documentary can.
“It’s great to have the time and ... to know that you don’t have to turn it around in a day, a week or even a month,” she said. “You have 93 minutes to really flesh out an issue that deserves that and then some. That is so liberating.”
“Fed Up,” directed by Stephanie Soechtig, uses historical footage and news events to show the causes and costs of obesity in the United States.
“This generation of children is the first to live a shorter life span than their parents, and it has ramifications in every aspect of our lives,” she said. “Talk about skyrocketing health care costs: the obesity epidemic is behind these health care costs. And national security: these people are too heavy to join the military.... It affects so many aspects of our country’s health that we really need to start paying attention.”
Couric said she hopes the film informs people and incites them to action so the food industry might become as accountable for its harmful products as the tobacco industry has.
“We really hope this is going to be a wakeup call,” she said.
She also plans to dig into social issues and talk with newsmakers and cultural leaders in her new gig at Yahoo, and she’s not afraid to leave television behind.
“I wanted to be part of the transition that we see happening all around us in media,” she said. “People ... may want the immediacy of having things on their mobile phone or on their computers, but I also think they want quality content as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to provide some of that.”