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Strong Start For Vieira On NBC’s ‘Today’

Strong Start For Vieira On NBC’s ‘Today’Millions of viewers tuned in on Sept. 13 when Tufts graduate Meredith Vieira made her debut as co-host of NBC’s ‘Today,’ a role for which The New York Times said she is “well suited.”

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.18.06] Meredith Vieira admitted that she was nervous on Wednesday, when she made her debut as co-host of the nation’s top-rated morning news program, NBC’s “Today.” But before an audience of nearly 7 million, the Tufts graduate and veteran journalist slipped right into her new role, engaging in both silly stunts and serious reporting.

"I feel like it's the first day of school and I'm sitting next to the cutest guy," said Vieira, positioned next to her co-anchor, Matt Lauer, behind a bright, white desk—part of the show’s newly designed set at NBC Studios in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center.

According to the Associated Press, Vieira’s debut on “Today” included a segment on wedding cake decorations, during which the 1975 Tufts graduate affectionately dabbed frosting on Lauer’s nose. She also joked with her co-host about a People magazine photo of him on the beach, while he teased her with an old picture from Esquire magazine. The show also featured a brief profile of Vieira’s pre-‘Today’ career, which included a mention of her time at Tufts.

The more light-hearted features of the show, which aired on Sept. 13, were balanced by Vieira’s interview with NBC's Washington bureau chief, Tim Russert, who talked about the political response to President Bush’s speech about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“She can be earnest one second, clownish the next, but she is always classy,” The New York Times reported about Vieira, who served as moderator of ABC’s hit daytime talk show “The View” for nearly a decade before replacing Katie Couric on “Today.”

The veteran journalist and eight-time Emmy winner has worked as a correspondent on news programs such as “ 60 Minutes,” “West 57 th,” and “ CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.” She also currently hosts the ABC game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

“Her age and experience work in her favor; she is old enough to understand the dark side of this kind of visibility but still young enough to perform brightly and confidently on camera,” the Times reported. “Yesterday she showed just how suited she is to ‘Today.’”

According to Vieira, whose debut drew 6.9 million viewers—the most since Couric’s May farewell show—her first day on the job was enjoyable.

"I just had a lot, a lot of fun," she told the AP. "It's a great family and I'm glad that they let me in.”



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