Meredith Vieira (Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Meredith Louise Vieira (born December 30, 1953) is an American journalist, television personality, and game show host. She is best known for having been the original moderator of the ABC talk program The View and co-host of the long-running NBC News morning news program, Today. She currently contributes to Dateline NBC and Rock Center with Brian Williams, was the former host of the syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, having replaced Regis Philbin in 2002. She also presented Intimate Portrait, a series on Lifetime. In 2014, she will begin hosting a daytime talk show.
Vieira was born in East Providence, Rhode Island, to Mary Louisa Elsie Rosa Silveira Vieira (née Costa) (October 28, 1904 - November 5, 2004) and Dr. Edwin Vieira (May 15, 1904 - February 1987), both first-generation Portuguese Americans. She is the youngest of four children, with three older brothers. All four of Vieira"s grandparents came from the Azores"three from Faial Island, one of the nine islands in the archipelago. They all left for a better life in New England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, settling around Providence, Rhode Island. Vieira was raised in the Catholic faith, but has stated in recent interviews that she has "spirituality, not a religion."
She attended the Lincoln School, a Quaker all-girls school in Providence. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in English from Tufts University in 1975.
Beginnings on radio and local TV (1975-1982)
Vieira began her broadcasting career in 1975 as a news announcer for WORC radio in Worcester, Massachusetts, doing afternoon drive news during the B. J. Dean Show. She began a career in television working as a local reporter and anchor at WJAR-TV in Providence, eventually making her way into the newsroom at WCBS-TV in New York City where she was an investigative reporter from 1979 to 1982.
CBS News (1982-1993)
Vieira first gained national recognition as a CBS reporter based in their Chicago bureau from 1982 to 1984. She later became a correspondent for nationwide news-magazine shows including West 57th (1985-89) and 60 Minutes (1989-91). Her final assignment at CBS was as co-anchor of the CBS Morning News (1992-93).
Move to ABC, Turning Point; Intimate Portrait; The View (1994-2006)
Vieira moved to ABC initially as one of six regular correspondents for the news-magazine show Turning Point (1994-99), and was also the host of the Lifetime Network's show Intimate Portrait, which debuted on January 3, 1995 and ran until August 28, 2004.
Vieira served as the original moderator and co-host of ABC's daytime talk show The View from its debut on August 11, 1997 until June 9, 2006. As moderator, she was responsible for opening and closing each of the show's live episodes, introducing "Hot Topics," guiding conversations, and breaking to commercials. On her final episode of The View, Vieira's co-hosts gave her a roast to commemorate her departure.
Vieira explained what led her to become The View's moderator in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by making the following statement:
In August 2006, Vieira told Time that she hasn't watched The View since she left the show, except the episode when Star Jones announced she was leaving. She said it was "very sad" what's happened to it: "I'm proud of the work we did there, but it's not a good time in the history of the show... It's hard to watch. It sort of became a joke." On August 29, 2006, Vieira told the New York Post that she didn't mean that The View was a joke. She said the interview was taken out of context. "I felt that the media was turning [The View] into a joke, not that the show was a joke," she says. Time added a clarification to its website, saying "[Vieira] assures Time that in no way were her comments meant to be insensitive or derogatory..."
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (2002-2013)
Vieira became the host of the American syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire on September 16, 2002; prior to that, American audiences had known it as a primetime show on ABC hosted by Regis Philbin. Vieira was not the first personality that distributor Buena Vista Television (now known as Disney-ABC Domestic Television) chose to host the syndicated Millionaire: Rosie O'Donnell (who would later succeed Vieira on The View) was originally offered the position, but rejected it almost immediately. Vieira won two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host for her hosting duties on Millionaire (one in 2005, the other in 2009); as such, she is the second woman to ever win an Emmy Award in this category (after Betty White for Just Men! in 1983), and the first to win multiple times. In addition to hosting the show, Vieira also served as its co-executive producer, a title that she would hold from 2005 until her departure from the show.
ABC originally offered Vieira hosting duties on the syndicated Millionaire to sweeten one of her re-negotiations for The View. When the show was honored by GSN on its 2007 Gameshow Hall of Fame special, one of the show's executive producers, Leigh Hampton, said that when the syndicated version was being developed, the production team felt that it was not feasible for Philbin to continue hosting, as the show recorded four episodes in a single day, and that the team was looking for qualities in a new host: it had to be somebody who would love the contestants and be willing to root for them. After O'Donnell declined the opportunity to host the syndicated version, Vieira was the one that the team settled on, because she had the above-mentioned qualities. On the special, Vieira herself gave the following explanation for why she decided to host the syndicated Millionaire:
Prior to hosting the syndicated version of Millionaire, Vieira was a celebrity contestant in a special tournament on the third season of the original primetime version, winning $250,000 for her selected charitable organization, the Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund. Seven and three-quarter years later, she would even turn the tables on Philbin himself with her surprise appearance on the finale of the show's 10th anniversary primetime revival on August 23, 2009"hosting its final segment while giving him the opportunity to answer one question in order to win $50,000 for his selected organization, Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx.
On January 10, 2013, Vieira announced that after eleven seasons with the syndicated Millionaire, throughout which she had hosted more than 1,800 episodes and offered a vast multitude of contestants a combined total of over $70,000,000, she would be leaving the show as part of an effort to focus on other projects in her career. She finalized taping of her last episodes with the show in November 2012.
NBC News:Today, Other work (2006-present)
Vieira accepted an offer to succeed Katie Couric as co-anchor of Today on April 6, 2006, the day after Couric announced that she would depart the show to become anchor of the CBS Evening News. The following day, Vieira announced on The View that she would be leaving the show to be co-anchor of Today, a role View co-host and ABC News journalist Barbara Walters had filled nearly four decades earlier during her tenure at NBC during the 1960s and 1970s. Vieira hosted the show with Matt Lauer from September 13, 2006, through June 8, 2011, also becoming a contributing anchor for Dateline NBC.
Vieira continued as host of Millionaire while appearing on Today. As part of her contract with Millionaire, Vieira agreed not to appear on Today during hours that would conflict with the airing of the game show on competing stations. As a result, she rarely appeared on the third or fourth hours of Today. Her first appearance during the third hour came on June 25, 2008, for "Today Throws a Wedding". She also appeared during the entire third hour during the Beijing Olympics, Vancouver Olympics and the Barack Obama inauguration on January 20, 2009.
Vieira announced on May 9, 2011, that she would depart as co-host in the following month, but would remain with Today in the role of special correspondent. Her last appearance as regular co-host was on June 8; she returned to the show for the Halloween broadcast on October 31, 2011, and again as special co-host with Matt Lauer in London, United Kingdom for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. She has remained with NBC in a minimized role and is currently a contributor to Dateline NBC and a correspondent on Rock Center with Brian Williams. In January 2013, she filled in for Kathie Lee Gifford on the fourth hour of Today and appeared alongside Hoda Kotb. In January 2013, she reported the story Inconceivable on Dateline NBC.
Vieira was one of the hosts for NBC's coverage of the 2012 Olympics. Both Vieira and co-host Matt Lauer were criticized for their NBC coverage of the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Summer Olympics Games. Vieira also provided some Today Olympics coverage during the games.
Vieira "hosts" a spoof of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, called Who Wants to Be King of the Jungle? on the second disc of the Special Edition DVD of The Lion King 1½. Timon the Meerkat is the contestant, while Pumbaa the Warthog serves as an audience member for the "Poll the Herd" lifeline as well as being the "Phone an Animal" lifeline.
Vieira once served as an on-air spokesperson in commercials for Bayer.
In 2000, she hosted the Academy Awards pre-show for ABC.
Vieira had a brief stint in the Broadway show Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2003, appearing in various scenes.
Vieira had a cameo as the host of a proposed game show in the 2004 version of The Stepford Wives.
Vieira also hosts a series of featurettes that are included on the first season DVDs of the ABC television show Desperate Housewives, interviewing cast members and the show's creators in California. She was required to sign a secrecy agreement in order to allow her access to script secrets.
After her departure from The View, Vieira returned to the show to make a guest appearance on the episode that aired October 8, 2007.
Vieira had guest appearances in the NBC sitcom 30 Rock, in the episodes "Greenzo" and "Larry King." In another episode, it is implied that she sexually harasses Kenneth Parcell.
As far as feature animation is concerned, Vieira appeared in a cameo role as the voice of a news reporter in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, and as the voice of Broomsy Witch in Shrek Forever After.
Vieira made an appearance on the "Chumdog Millionaire" episode of Pawn Stars, in which, in a dream sequence, she reads the million-dollar question to Chumlee.
Vieira appeared in the 2010 film Get Him to the Greek as herself in a scene where the main characters appear on Today.
Vieira was part of the audience of The Ellen DeGeneres Show on an episode that aired in February 2011; when discovered among the audience, she was outraged over the fact that even though she wanted to be the show's 300,000th audience member, instead she ended up being the 300,001st.
Vieira made a cameo appearance in "The Wedding of River Song", the finale of the sixth series of Doctor Who.
Vieira was a guest investigator on the Ghost Hunters episode "Murdered Matron" when The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) investigated the Sailors' Snug Harbor on Staten Island, New York City.
Vieira married CBS News journalist Richard M. Cohen on June 14, 1986. They reside with their three children in Irvington, Westchester County, New York. Richard Cohen has had multiple sclerosis since he was 25 years old, and has had two bouts of colon cancer, one in 1999 and one a year later. She is a vegan for ethical, moral, and health reasons.
Balancing family and career
Vieira joined 60 Minutes in 1989 following the birth of her first child. Don Hewitt, executive producer of 60 Minutes, allowed her to work part-time for two seasons so she could care for her child. After that, she would work full-time. But after two years, she became pregnant again and asked to continue the part-time arrangement. Hewitt declined her request, deciding instead to hire someone who would work full-time. Her departure from the show garnered headlines, as a national debate started to take place about whether women could balance both family and career. She turned down opportunities to co-host CBS's The Early Show and ABC's Good Morning America when her children were young.
Vieira discusses her family and career decisions in the book Divided Lives: The Public and Private Struggles of Three American Women by Elsa Walsh.
In 2006, Vieira received the P.T. Barnum Award from Tufts University for her exceptional work in the field of media and entertainment.