Monday, June 6, 2011

Meredith Vieira: Why We'll Miss Her on 'Today'

Meredith Vieira: Why We'll Miss Her on 'Today'

It seems like just yesterday that Meredith Vieira was taking up her post on Today. As we get ready to bid her farewell this Wednesday, we're reminded of how much we'll miss the 57-year-old newswoman. Here are the top five reasons why.

She fit right in. When Vieira took over for Katie Couric in 2006, Couric was arguably the most popular daytime personality on TV. Today fans mourned her loss, and many questioned whether Vieira could fill her shoes. But Vieira joined the show, and ratings didn't slip. "To lose someone who was arguably among the most important personalities in morning television and not skip a beat is an accomplishment," Jim Bell, the executive producer of Today, told the New York Times. "And that says a lot about Meredith."

She could be tough when she needed to. Though Vieira had some hard journalism experience before landing at Today -- she'd been a correspondent on CBS's 60 Minutes and a co-anchor of CBS Morning News -- she was best known as a cohost on ABC's fluffy daytime talk show, The View. So it was a pleasant surprise for fans to see her tackle more serious fare on Today, holding her own during tough political interviews. In this clip, watch her stand her ground as Hilary Clinton tried to evade her question about voting for the Iraq War. And in this one, her exchange with presidential hopeful John McCain left the senator flustered and grasping for words.

She never lost her trademark warmth and poise. Vieira has endured the sort of life experiences that shape a person's sense of compassion and empathy. For decades, her husband, Richard Cohen, has battled multiple sclerosis (MS) and recurring colon cancer, and she has always spoken with class and honesty about the hardship and stress his illness put on him and the family. Could this be why she manages to be so engaging on the show, whether talking to earthquake victims or political leaders? It seems so. Vieira's own trials have informed her work, allowing her to engage with all kinds of people in a relatable way. As iVillage reader John Hare puts it: "Her opinions are always as the every day person would see things. I got a feeling she was not a 'poll' person. Her reporting was always in a 'What do you think, how do you feel?' format. I felt she avoided the spin stories."

She got to show off her sense of humor -- a lot. Vieira was willing to put herself in potentially embarrassing situations and laugh at herself when things went wrong. Have you seen the footage of the day she went ice skating with Will Ferrell? Enough said... but we'll let iVillage reader Bill Glazer say a bit more: "When I watch the show, as soon as I see her SHE LIGHTS UP THE TELEVISION SCREEN." Glazer writes. "She brought a new dimension, it was alive, it was at times funny because of her."

She's loyal. So actually, we won't have to miss her too much. Vieira left the show for more life balance, but that doesn't mean she'll be totally out of pocket. "I have a great relationship with the folks at NBC," she recently told "So if we can figure out something there, within the family, then I will work there."


Piper Perabo Poppy Montgomery Portia de Rossi Rachael Leigh Cook Rachel Bilson Rachel Blanchard

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