Matt Lauer called it “a very bittersweet Wednesday morning.” That’s because he and the rest of the staff and crew on NBC’s Today were saying goodbye to Meredith Vieira.
It was a lavish and emotional event, including a touching clip retrospective (see video, below) of Vieira’s five years on the show. She was serenaded by both Carole King and Jack Black. And there were heartfelt closing testimonials from co-workers Al Roker, Lauer, Ann Curry (who is replacing Vieira) and Natalie Morales.
The highlight of this retirement party was an extended song-and-sprint which had Vieira running all over the set and studio to the sound of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”. She ended up on the plaza where she was greeted by a stunningly uncoordinated flash mob of dancers that included Father Time Abe Vigoda and Jimmy Fallon.
Vieira, 57, has said she is leaving the show to spend more time with her family (although we also liked David Letterman’s Top Ten explanation a few weeks ago: “Only so many times you can learn secrets to making chilled summer soups.”)
Curry will have a tough time filling Vieira’s pumps. She was a TV personality rarer than a unicorn: humble and hard-working, a trouper who could laugh at herself and a genuine pleasure to be around.