Meredith Vieira is coming back to daytime TV. The former co-anchor of Today and The View will have a daily talk show of her own starting in fall 2014. NBCUniversal will carry the show on its owned stations and distribute it to other markets. Vieira spoke to TV Guide Magazine first about her plans.
TV Guide Magazine: What makes this the right time in your career to try a syndicated talk show?
Meredith Vieira: NBC had approached me about it in the past. I said I guess if I could do it on my terms and control it to some degree. We started coming up on fun things we'd like to do. I realized the many jobs I've held led me to this point. I've been a journalist for years and years. I love sharing people's stories. I loved connecting with people on the Today show. I hosted Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, which was a game that changed people's lives. On The View I got to be opinionated. I thought I would do a talk show if I could combine all of these skills into it.
TV Guide Magazine: And the set will really be based on your home up in Westchester?
Vieira: Absolutely. Originally I wanted to do it out of my house because I just thought it would be a kick. But I don't have enough bathrooms. When people see the way I live, they are going to feel so much better about their lives. We have three animals that have destroyed pretty much everything.
TV Guide Magazine: So will your dog Jasper be on the show?
Vieira: He's so protective, he'll bite the first person that comes on. I don't want a lawsuit. But there will be some cameos. I can't possibly have a show based on the way I live and not have an animal.
TV Guide Magazine: Is it a concern that a lot of big names have found daytime syndication pretty challenging?
Vieira: I agree. But the worse that can happen is it doesn't work. I'm almost 60 years old and I've been in the business a long time. At this point, I'm willing to take the chance. I have nothing to lose this point. And possibly, it will succeed.
TV Guide Magazine: What will make this distinctive? What will you bring to it?
Vieira: Well obviously you bring yourself. That's not conceit talking. It's your values. It's things that interest you. I have a number of fans and they expect something from me. I just want to be authentic. When people say about me, 'she's an authentic person' that means a great deal because television is full of phonies. I just want to do something that's authentic and true. If people connect with that — fantastic. If they don't, then I can leave with my head held high. But I'm hoping to have fun.
TV Guide Magazine: What was the element in the pilot that you think sold it to NBCUniversal?
Vieira: There were such a variety of segments in the show. It wasn't just one thing. I want every show to inspire people. If you don't leave the show in some way moved, then I don't want to do it. That's important to me. And I'll do that through stories about regular folks people don't know about. But I'm also crazy and kooky and I want the show to reflect that, too. And people need to laugh. And I want people to come to the show and know they're going to have a good time.
TV Guide Magazine: You're doing the show out of NBC's headquarters in Rockefeller Center and you're planning to have a band.
Vieira: Yes. I've always wanted a band in my home. My husband says, "well, you're a complete idiot."
TV Guide Magazine: Have you picked one out?
Vieira: Yes — we've met with Everett Bradley, a percussionist with the E Street Band. He's a great musician and he's got a big heart. He works with children who stutter. He does amazing work and it really speaks to who he is. He's a great guy and he's making a difference. That's what we're trying to do on the show.
TV Guide Magazine: The audience knows that TV isn't the most important thing in your life. They know about your commitment to your family. Being on an hour a day, will there be a lot of pressure to talk about it more?
Vieira: I don't think so. I've pretty much been an open book without sharing family secrets that would be inappropriate. I'm comfortable talking about the challenges my family has had because they are not unique.
TV Guide Magazine: What happens from now until the launch next year?
Vieira: We start to have creative meetings to start to hone the show. A lot of the taped pieces we're doing are inspirational and we can start finding and shooting those now. I'm hoping to do digital shorts — we're starting a YouTube channel called Lives. We're going to experiment there with things we might use on the syndicated show.