Meredith Louise Vieira (born December 30, 1953) is an American journalist, television personality, and game show host. She currently co-hosts NBC's Today and often contributes to Dateline NBC. She is the current host for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in syndication, replacing Regis Philbin in 2002. She previously co-hosted ABC's daytime talk show The View (from 1997 to 2006). She also hosted Intimate Portrait, a series on Lifetime Television. On May 9, 2011, Vieira announced she will leave the Today show in June 2011.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
Vieira has hosted the American syndicated version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire since 2002—a continuation of the primetime show hosted by Regis Philbin. The daytime quiz show is syndicated by Buena Vista Television, a division of ABC. In 2005 and again in 2009, Vieira won a Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Game Show Host for her role on Millionaire.
Vieira was a celebrity contestant on the Regis Philbin-hosted version of Millionaire before she hosted the syndicated version winning $250,000 for her charity. She even made an appearance on the ABC version during the show's 10th anniversary promo, where she hosted the series' final segment and Regis himself was the contestant to answer one question for a chance to win $50,000 for his selected charity.
Vieira first gained national recognition as a CBS reporter based in their Chicago bureau from 1982 to 1984. She later became a correspondent for nationwide news-magazine shows including West 57th (1985–89) and 60 Minutes (1989–91). Her final assignment at CBS was as co-anchor of the CBS Morning News (1992–93). She moved to ABC initially as a correspondent for the news-magazine show Turning Point (1993–97). Following the cancellation of Turning Point, Vieira realized
I was a reporter who didn't want to report because it required a tremendous amount of travel, nobody was too interested in having me work for them. I had to reinvent myself.
Vieira was born in East Providence, Rhode Island, to Mary Louisa Elsie Rosa Silveira Vieira (1914–2004) and Dr. Edwin Vieira (1904–1987), both first generation Portuguese-Americans. All four of Vieira’s grandparents came from the Azores, three from Faial Island, one of the nine islands in the archipelago. They all left for a better life in New England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – settling around Providence, RI. She is the youngest of four children, with three older brothers. Vieira was raised Roman Catholic, but has stated in recent interviews that she has "spirituality, not a religion. Vieira attended the Lincoln School, a Quaker all-girls school in Providence. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in English from Tufts University and began her career in 1975 as a news announcer for WORC radio in Worcester, Massachusetts. She began a career in television working as a local reporter and anchor at WJAR-TV Providence, eventually making her way into the newsroom at WCBS-TV in New York City where she was an investigative reporter from 1979 to 1982.
The day after Katie Couric announced on April 5, 2006, that she would be stepping down as co-anchor of Today, Vieira accepted an offer to succeed Couric beginning September 13, 2006, also become contributing anchor for Dateline NBC. The following day, Vieira announced on The View that she would be leaving the show to be co-anchor of Today, a role View co-host and ABC News journalist Barbara Walters filled four decades prior during her tenure at NBC during the 1960s and 1970s.
It was stated that she would continue her hosting duties of Millionaire for the 2006 to 2007 and 2008 season, should the show be renewed. As part of her contract with Millionaire, Vieira agreed not to appear on any competing television networks during hours that would conflict with the airing of the game show. In effect, Vieira is forbidden from appearing on-camera for the third or fourth hours of Today until her contract with Millionaire expires. On June 25, 2008, Meredith appeared on the third hour for a few minutes for the first time in her career at Today for "Today throws a wedding". On Today on December 11, 2006, Vieira commented that she had recently been absent in order to finish her Who Wants to Be a Millionaire job for the season. She made the announcement by saying "Now I've just got one job" to her co-host Matt Lauer.
Vieira married Emmy-award winning CBS News journalist Richard M. Cohen on June 14, 1986. They reside with their three children in Irvington in Westchester County, New York. Richard Cohen has had multiple sclerosis since he was 25 years old, and has had two bouts of colon cancer, one in 1999 and one a year later.
Balancing family and career
Vieira joined 60 Minutes in 1989 following the birth of her first child. Don Hewitt, executive producer of 60 Minutes, allowed her to work part-time for two seasons so she could care for her child. After that, she would work full-time. But after two years, she became pregnant again and asked to continue the part-time arrangement. Hewitt declined her request, deciding instead to hire someone who would work full-time. Her departure from the show garnered headlines, as a national debate started to take place about whether women could balance both family and career. She turned down opportunities to co-host The Early Show on CBS, and ABC's Good Morning America when her children were young.
Vieira discusses her family and career decisions in the book Divided Lives: The Public and Private Struggles of Three American Women by Elsa Walsh.
Vieira "hosts" a spoof of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, called Who Wants to Be King of the Jungle? on the second disc of the Special Edition DVD of The Lion King 1½. Timon the Meerkat serves as the contestant; Pumbaa as an audience member for the "Poll the Herd" lifeline as well as being the "Phone an Animal" lifeline.
Vieira is a former spokesperson for Bayer, serving as an on-air personality in their commercials.
In 2000, she hosted the Academy Awards pre-show for ABC.
Vieira had a brief stint in the Broadway show Thoroughly Modern Millie in 2003, appearing in various scenes.
Vieira had a cameo as the host of a proposed game show in the 2004 version of The Stepford Wives.
Vieira also hosts a series of featurettes that are included on the first season DVDs of the ABC television show Desperate Housewives. Vieira interviews cast members and the show's creators in California. Vieira was required to sign a secrecy agreement in order to allow her access to script secrets.
Vieira made her first guest appearance on The View since leaving the show on Monday, Oct. 8, 2007.
Vieira had a guest appearance in the NBC sitcom 30 Rock in the episodes "Greenzo" and "Larry King." In another episode, it is implied that she sexually harasses Kenneth Parcell.
Vieira made a cameo role as a news reporter in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
Vieira made an appearance as Broomsy Witch in Shrek Forever After.
Vieira made an appearance on the "Chumdog Millionaire" episode of Pawn Stars, in which, in a dream sequence, she reads the million dollar question to Chumlee.
Vieira appeared in the 2010 film Get Him to the Greek as herself in a scene where the main characters appear on The Today Show.
Vieira made an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show as herself in a scene where she wanted to be the 300,000th audience member of the show, but instead was the 300,001st.
Vieira is set to make a cameo appearance in the sixth series finale of Doctor Who.