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Meredith Vieira is said to be considering leaving NBC’s Today when her reported $11 million annual contract expires in September.
As The Hollywood Reporter previously reported, Vieira, 57, has tired of the grueling lifestyle and would like to spend more time with her ill husband, according to sources.
With NBC’s top-rated morning show quietly weighing an on-air shake-up, THR looks at five of Vieira’s memorable moments as co-host of Today.
— Challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton — twice: Vieira admitted she was “nervous” before her interview with the then-Senator in December 2006, just three months after she joined Today. Vieira had been told by “everybody” that Clinton was a “tough” interview. In fact, Vieira started out lobbing softball questions at Clinton but then showed she could pose a more challenging question toward the end of the interview when she pushed Clinton to talk about why she voted to give President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq. “You refuse to say it was a mistake. Why?” Clinton then started criticizing Bush, but Vieira interrupted her to ask again: “But you were willing to take that vote, to make that vote.” Clinton finally responded: “I take responsibility for that vote. Obviously, if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn’t have been a vote and I certainly wouldn’t have voted that way.” Seems that Vieira later gained confidence. She went on to interview Clinton again in 2008 during her presidential campaign where she challenged Clinton on her foreign policy experience. Clinton spoke about being “the first high-profile American to go into Bosnia during the Dayton peace accords.” Replied Vieira: “But when you mention something like Bosnia, where people respond, yeah, but you went to Bosnia with Sinbad. That wasn’t establishing any kind of foreign policy.”
— Falling on ice with Will Ferrell: In March 2007, Vieira was ice skating in the rink at New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza with Ferrell, who was promoting his film Blades of Glory. Vieira tried to skate through Ferrell’s legs and promptly fell flat on her back and hit her head on the ice. “Ow, that hurt,” she said while not losing sight of her on-air duties. “We’ll be right back after this. I need a little help,” she said as Ferrell helped her up. “Ow, that hurt. This is Today on NBC.”
— Cursing on air: Vieira was taking part in a driving simulation game to show how easily people can get distracted by cell phones and passengers while behind the wheel of a car. She was asked to pretend like she was reading a text and message and then crashed the car on the screen. “Oh, shit!” she said, then quickly realized her mistake and covered her mouth. “Oh, jeez.”
— Inadvertently insulting James Franco: In January, Vieira and co-host Matt Lauer interviewed Colin Firth after he learned about his being nominated for an Oscar for The King’s Speech. During the interview, Vieira seemingly threw her support behind Firth by offering to “polish his statue” if he won. Turns out that James Franco, a fellow best actor Oscar nominee (for 127 Hours) who was waiting to be interviewed by the pair via satellite, had been listening to the whole thing. “I hear you’ll be polishing his statue, eh, Meredith?” Vieira quickly tried to make up: “No, James, I said if he won, but I’ll be polishing yours as well. I’m going to quickly move on.”
— Dancing with Olympic champion Apolo Anton Ohno: Vieira hit the ice with the speed skater in February 2010. But, perhaps not wanting to repeat her previous fall with Ferrell, Vieira asked: “What was I thinking?” Instead of racing Ohno, she “challenged the dancing champ to a tango.” (Ohno previously won ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.) In a glittery red dress and heels, the duo danced — and no one fell down.
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