Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today Show

Meredith Vieira, who’s been co-host of the Today Show for almost five years, is saying goodbye today in her final show. Although the lineup for the show hasn’t been revealed, Matt Lauer told the audience Tuesday, “We’ve got a very special show planned. You won’t want to miss it.”
Vieira, 57, announced on May 9 that she would be leaving the show to spend more time with her husband and family, although she indicated that she might also work for NBC in the future.  Her departure comes the same week that Katie Couric, another Today veteran, announced that she had signed a contract for a talk show with ABC. And last month, Oprah Winfrey ended her landmark talk show after 25 seasons. All in all, it’s been a few weeks of profound shifts for powerful women on television.
In her time on Today, Vieira won over viewers for her humor and low-key approach to news and feature stories. (She was a good enough sport to dress up as Lady Gaga for the Halloween show.) When she announced her departure in May, she said she felt as though she’d been on the show for ten years, and it was easy to see what she meant. From the beginning, she fit right in with her co-workers: Lauer, Al Roker and Ann Curry, who’s replacing Vieira as co-host.
On Tuesday’s program Vieira’s second-to-last show, Roker recalled the time the two of them had gone to Dublin, and Ann Curry remembered getting caught in a downpour at the Beijing Olympics with Meredith.”This is when I  really realized how out of control you could be,” Curry said.  “That was the first time I really felt like a sister to you.”
And Lauer said, “You don’t take yourself too seriously. You never have…And I think that’s a terrific quality to have.”
“This is the best job,” Vieira replied, “and I’m really going to miss it.” She teared up.
Although Vieira hasn't elaborated on her family circumstances, most viewers know that her husband, Richard Cohen, has suffered from multiple sclerosis for the past three decades, and that he has been through two bouts of colon cancer.  She didn’t elaborate on that, and viewers can only hope that Cohen’s health isn’t getting worse. The couple have three children.
After Vieira’s announcement in May, Sherri  Snelling, director and founder of the nationwide Caregiving Club, wrote in ThirdAge that Vieira was showing how caregivers should plan ahead, taking into account both the health of their loved one as well as their own career. And although Vieira unquestionably has the financial resources to make that kind of plan relatively easy, there are millions of women who can identify with her emotionally difficult situation.
No one is sure how Today will do once Vieira’s gone.  Ann Curry, her replacement, is much more serious than Vieira. But who knows – she may appeal to viewers in a different way, or she might end up as much of a humorist as Vieira.
One thing's for sure, though. No one on Today will ever be a better Lady Gaga than Vieira.  Goodbye, Meredith.  We’ll miss you.