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Sunday April 9, 2006 6:50 am

Meredith Viera Joins Today

Merideth VieraTo virtually no one’s surprise, and to the obvious delight of many, including Today co-host Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira is joining Today, filling the chair at the hosts’ desk being vacated by Katie Couric.

The 52-year-old Vieira currently co-hosts ABC’s daytime talker The View, and she hosts the syndicated Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
During an emotional segment of yesterday’s The View, Vieira announced her departure from the show.  As for Millionaire, she will either negotiate her way out of a contract that runs for two more seasons, or she will negotiate a better shooting schedule that allows her to simultaneously co-host Today and continue hosting the game show. Right now, Millionaire tapes 200 new episodes per season over a grueling four months.  That schedule will be incompatible with her Today responsibilities.

Although Couric departs Today after the May 31 show, Vieira won’t be sharing Studio 1-A with Lauer until September.  Campbell Brown of Weekend Today is expected to be Lauer’s interim partner.

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