Meredith Vieira to Leave 'Today' Show in June; Ann Curry Is Replacement

2:44 PM PST 04/28/2011 by Marisa Guthrie
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Meredith Vieira, left, and Ann Curry

Curry will be co-host with Matt Lauer while Natalie Morales is elevated to newsreader on NBC's top-rated morning show.

Meredith Vieira will exit NBC's Today show in June, nearly three months before the end of her contract, according to sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

Today newsreader Ann Curry will be promoted to co-host, and correspondent Natalie Morales will take Curry's place as newsreader.

An official announcement could come as early as next week.
 
Vieira took the seat next to co-host Matt Lauer in 2006, replacing Katie Couric. Since then, Today has extended its run as the top-rated morning news program to more than 800 weeks. The show is critically important to NBC News' bottom line, pulling in half a billion dollars in ad revenue last year for the weekday morning hours alone.
 
By elevating Curry and Morales, Today executives have the benefit of personalities who are familiar to viewers at a time of pronounced tumult in television news in general. Earlier this week, Couric announced that she will step down as anchor of CBS Evening News. And while she will mount a daytime program with former NBC News executive Jeff Zucker, Couric also is looking for a part-time perch at a news division, with ABC News among her suitors. ABC News president Ben Sherwood has already hired several new faces: The Insider's Lara Spencer and ESPN's Josh Elliott will join Good Morning America.

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CBS News executives are expected to announce next week that 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley will replace Couric at the Evening News anchor desk. It will mark the second anchor change this year for CBS News; in January, The Early Show got an entirely new morning team led by Chris Wragge and Erica Hill.

Vieira has been mulling an exit from Today for some time but came to a decision this week, according to sources. As recently as two weeks ago,Today executive producer Jim Bell told The Hollywood Reporter that he was hopeful she would stay. The Today team is in London to cover the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Vieira still hosts the syndicated game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and recently produced her first movie — Return, about a female soldier's return from war — via her eponymous production shingle. But her motivations for exiting are said to be largely personal; she is preparing her youngest daughter Lily for college in the fall, and her husband Richard Cohen continues to struggle with multiple sclerosis.

An NBC News spokesperson declined comment. 

E-mail: marisa.guthrie@thr.com

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