Look out Katie Couric — NBCUniversal announced today it’s launching a syndicated talker starring your most successful Today show replacement to date, Meredith Vieira. The Meredith Vieira Show will debut in fall 2014. Vieira recently shot the pilot for the new series; she had begun talks with NBCU for the project shortly after she announced in January she was leaving Disney’s syndicated game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire after 11 years. Vieira, following in the footsteps of her Today predecessors Jane Pauley and Couric, is expected to do a lighter show than Pauley’s short-lived talker, or Couric’s current Disney syndicated show, playing off Vieira’s 11-year Millionaire run and her years air-traffic controlling on ABC’s gaggle show The View. No pickups were announced today, but the NBC station group has not committed to a new show to succeed freshman Jeff Probst, which did not get renewed, and may keep the 2 PM slot warm with temporary programming.
Meanwhile, Couric’s talker will be entering its second season with an entirely new team of senior producers and a director. (Two weeks after Rachel Miskowiec was brought in as new executive producer, she has made staffing changes, with co-executive producers Kathy Samuels and Ethan Nelson as well as director Joseph Terry departing.) Katie launched last fall with Jeff Zucker as executive producer and Samuels and Michael Bass as co-exec producers. Zucker’s now off re-making CNN, and Bass joined him.
Those changes follow a rocky freshman season for Katie. After a strong opening, the show slipped in the ratings. Its numbers eventually leveled off and Katie remained No. 1 in households among all freshmen for the entire season, but it has been running neck and neck with fellow rookie Steve Harvey, which has edged Katie in the key women 25-54 demographic for the second part of the season — including the recent May sweep. Katie also has been struggling with its identity, with Couric, who also serves as exec producer, reportedly pushing for news-making interviews and more serious journalistic approach normally reserved for in-depth news programs like 60 Minutes as opposed to daytime TV’s conventional emphasis on lighter fare and celebrities. (Katie drew its largest audience to date with the Manti Te’o interview, which averaged almost 3.8 million viewers in January.) The search for direction was acerbated by the departure of Zucker, who was a strong authoritative figure, with rumors circulating that Katie may not continue beyond the original two-season pickup. The show is scheduled to stay in production until the last week of July before going on a monthlong hiatus.
Here’s today’s announcement:
NBC Broadcasting Chairman Ted Harbert today announced that Meredith Vieira, one of America’s most beloved personalities will host her own nationally syndicated daytime show, titled The Meredith Vieira Show. Slated to debut in fall 2014, the daily New York City-based show will be produced and distributed by NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution with Vieira also serving as an executive producer.
“All of us at NBCU are so excited about this new show with Meredith,” said Ted Harbert, Chairman, NBC Broadcasting. “She creates an instant connection with audiences with her smart, quick-witted and down-to-earth style. This entertaining and substantive show will be a great way to reach her loyal daytime fans as well as new ones who will discover why Meredith is one of America’s most loved television personalities.”
Taped on a set that resembles her home (complete with her actual furniture and family photos), The Meredith Vieira Show is a multi-segmented, exciting hour that will blend the host’s unique point of view, empathy, and sense of humor with insightful storytelling that will make viewers laugh, learn and feel inspired. Each day, the show will offer an exceptional mix of daytime fun along with feel-good human interest stories from everyday people to celebrity guests who have an important story to tell, lifestyle segments and key topics that highlight Vieira’s warm, relatable and distinctive personality.
“As a journalist on Today and 60 Minutes, I learned how to really listen to people and help give them a voice. On The View, I unleashed my own opinionated self and discovered the empowerment that comes with sometimes heated, but always respectful, discussion. And on Millionaire, I relished the joy of changing people’s lives while having pure fun,” said Meredith Vieira. “All of these experiences, along with being a wife and mom, have led me here because they all share one common denominator… this fundamental need we have to connect with and find inspiration in each other.”
“Each day, I hope to accomplish what I call the three H’s: Heat, Heart and Humor,” said Vieira. “And speaking of the heart, I want to thank my husband, Richard, and kids, Ben, Gabe and Lily for strongly encouraging me to take this incredible opportunity… or else they really just want to get me out of the house.”
With more than two decades of experience, Meredith Vieira has earned numerous awards, including 14 Emmys®, and continues to be a staple on daytime TV. Throughout her successful and diverse broadcasting career Vieira has been a huge part of some of the most successful programs in television history, including “Today,” “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” “The View,” and “60 Minutes.”
More about Meredith Vieira:
Currently, Vieira serves as a special correspondent for NBC News programming including “Today” and “NBC Nightly News” and also contributes to special network programming including the Olympic Games. Vieira joined “Today” in September 2006 as co-anchor, and was immediately accepted into the ranks of America’s first television family. During her five years at “Today,” Vieira also played a key role in covering the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with exclusive interviews with the athletes and medalists.
Vieira won two Daytime Emmy® Awards for “Outstanding Game Show Host” (2005, 2009) for the nationally syndicated game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” in which she has served as host for 11 seasons. While at the helm, Vieira has given away over 75 million in prize money with three contestants winning the million dollar prize. With over 2,000 episodes hosted, Vieira holds the record for hosting more episodes of a game show than any other woman in history.
From 1997 to 2006, Vieira served as moderator of ABC’s “The View” where, each day, she led her fellow co-stars in discussions on current issues that ranged from social and political topics to tabloid headlines and celebrity news.
In 1993, she started at ABC when she joined their news division as chief correspondent of “Turning Point,” which debuted in March 1994. Prior to her work at ABC, Vieira spent more than a decade at CBS News, where she garnered five Emmy® Awards for her work as a correspondent on the news magazines “60 Minutes” and “West 57th.”
Vieira is involved with several charitable organizations, including the New York chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, for which she is also on the Board of Directors. In addition, she is active with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Alzheimer’s Association, Children’s Miracle Network, Clown Care (a program that coordinates hospital visits from specially trained clowns) and the Pajama Program (which provides warm pajamas and new books to children in need in the United States, and around the world).
A native of Providence, R.I., Vieira received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University in Medford, Mass. She has three children, Ben, Gabe and Lily with her husband, best-selling author and journalist, Richard Cohen.