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Vieira to Replace Couric on ‘Today’ in September

Apr 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Meredith Vieira will become Matt Lauer’s co-anchor on the top-rated “Today” show in September, succeeding Katie Couric, NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker announced Thursday morning.

“This is an announcement that I couldn’t be happier to be making,” said Mr. Zucker. “Meredith’s vast experience as an award-winning journalist as well as talk show host make her the ideal candidate for this job. She joins a distinguished legacy of ‘Today’ show co-anchors, from Barbara Walters to Jane Pauley to Katie Couric. We’re lucky to have her as the newest member of ‘Today,’ and I am thrilled to welcome her to the NBC family.”

Minutes later, Ms. Walters broke the news to “The View’s” studio audience, which responded with a standing ovation, joined by Ms. Vieira’s co-hosts, Ms. Walters, Joy Behar, Star Jones Reynolds and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

In the NBC announcement, Ms. Vieira said: “Before Jeff changes his mind, I am honored to accept this amazing opportunity. Not only is the ‘Today’ show a great program within a superb news organization it’s also where America turns to begin the day.”

The announcement had been expected since it became official Wednesday that Ms. Couric is going to CBS to anchor “CBS Evening News,” contribute to “60 Minutes” and anchor prime-time specials.

“Meredith is a real pro, and I think it speaks volumes that NBC has brought her here to ‘Today,'” Mr. Lauer said in the announcement. “I have been her fan for years and I can’t wait to be her partner. She has the perfect background and personality to make a real mark on this show and in morning news in general. I’m thrilled to welcome her aboard.”

“It’s a tribute to everyone at ‘Today,’ and all of NBC News, that someone of Meredith’s caliber has joined our team,” NBC News President Steve Capus said. “Her skills will be invaluable at ‘Today’ and throughout the division. We can’t wait to get started.”

“It has to be every executive producer’s dream to be facing a transition and then be given a tremendous talent like Meredith Vieira to join your team,” “Today” executive producer Jim Bell said. “To face a transition and still be able to say that you’ve got the best team in morning television is a pretty great feeling.”

Ms. Vieira was a correspondent for CBS News and ABC News before she took the leap to join “The View,” Ms. Walters’ attempt to enliven daytime discussion with an ensemble of women from different generations and backgrounds.

On “The View” Thursday, Ms. Vieira said she is who she is today largely because of her nine years on the program, and that she “hounds” her children to accept that change is good.

Ms. Vieira and her journalist husband Richard Cohen have three children. Ms. Vieira has been moderator of ABC’s “The View” since the show’s inception in 1997 and has served as host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” since 2002. She started at the network in 1993, when she joined the news division as chief correspondent of “Turning Point,” which debuted in March 1994.