Meredith Vieira Kicks Off Daytime Show With Family, J.Lo and Games
The 'View' and 'Today' alum's irreverent humor was also on display, telling her daughter, "you are now officially my favorite child because you're the one who showed up."
Meredith Vieira premiered her brand-new, eponymous daytime talk show on Monday.
The former Today and View co-host launched The Meredith Vieira Show with an interview with Jennifer Lopez, a piece and performance spotlighting a program designed for kids with physical challenges called Dancing Dreams, family moments and games.
Vieira, who has long prioritized her own family and modeled her Rockefeller Center set on the family room in her own home, had her husband and kids on the set for her first show.
After introducing her husband Richard Cohen and daughter Lily, Vieira joked that Lily is "now officially my favorite child because you're the one who showed up." But, her sons, Ben and Gabriel, later made surprise appearances after a video in which Vieira's children and husband revealed her bad habits, embarrassing traits and that she loves surprises.
Vieira, who famously quit her job at 60 Minutes after they wouldn't let her work part-time when Gabriel was born, also talked about how family has always been important to her and referenced a bracelet she wears that her husband and kids gave to her during the nervous night before her Today debut that says "We are with you."
Vieira also introduced her sidekick, longtime friend Jon Harris, and her band, explaining why she launched her own talk show after leaving Today in 2011.
"Daytime television has this unique ability to connect with people on an interpersonal level," she said, "And I consider it the highest compliment when somebody stops me on the street and they say, 'You know what, you remind me of my friend or my sister or my aunt or my mom or my grandmother' — I'm starting to get that. I don't love that. But it is a privilege to have this show and I don't take it for granted at all. If you want to know what the show's about, it's sort of a combination of everything I've been doing for the past almost 40 years in this business, so there will be a lot of storytelling, there'll be talk and opinion and there'll be games. And if I do this right, I hope to make a little difference in everyone's life and have a little fun doing it."
Vieira's first interview was with Jennifer Lopez, a wide-ranging discussion in which the two moms discussed their kids (Lopez's twins have just started first grade and wreak havoc on her furniture, she says), and Lopez talked about her early struggles, why after a series of relationships she's enjoying being on her own, and her many projects, including The Fosters, American Idol and the upcoming thriller Boy Next Door, for which she showed an abbreviated portion of the trailer.
Later Vieira played a name-that-tune game called "Car-e-oke" with Lopez and surprise guest Hoda Kotb, as both joined her for a pretend drive. She also played a blindfold game called "Touchy Feely" with an audience member, in which the blindfolded contestant had to feel various items and then combine their names to form words like "catfish" or "Facebook."
Vieira also spotlighted a ballet program for girls with physical challenges called Dancing Dreams, and after the students performed on her show, she surprised them by saying she was making their dream of performing onstage at Lincoln Center come true.
The Meredith Vieira Show airs at 2 p.m. on NBC in most of the country and joins a challenging daytime landscape, where just months ago, Katie Couric's high-profile talk show ended after collapsing under its steep budget.
Still NBCUniversal broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert told The Hollywood Reporter recently that he feels good about NBC's chances with Vieira.
"I like our hand," Harbert said. "The key to daytime TV is to get [guests] to spill their life. …Meredith Vieira is a human magnet. People love to talk to her."