Time to wake up with Meredith

April 6, 2006

It was just a matter of time. I’d been cheating on Katie (as in Couric) for years by sneaking around and watching Meredith Viera on Who Wants to be a Millionaire each day at 2:00 P.M. (KWWL – Channel 7.1). Now, as fate would have it, I’ll be stepping up my face time with Meredith as she takes over for Katie as co-host of the Today Show the end of May. Sorry Katie… time to move on from television’s high school sweetheart to greener, more mature pastures….

All kidding aside, the last two days really are momentous in the world of television. “America’s First Family” is splitting up and one of their own is defecting to another network – AND NOBODY’S MAD, at least not publicly. In years past this type of thing would have been taboo or at least hush-hush. Katie would have signed behind everybody’s back and then one day she’d just disappear, never to be spoken of again. But this is not how events of late are being handled. A full month before leaving, Katie was allowed to make an eloquent, moving statement about her new venture. She thanked her NBC audience, her friends and colleagues; in fact, she stopped just short of inviting everyone to join her each week night on CBS’s “Nightly News”. Matt gushed about the opportunity, Ann spoke of missing her “big sister”, blah, blah, blah. One big happy family to the bitter end.

The same was true on ABC’s The View today. Meredith announced her plans to leave, thanked the world of mid-morning TV and even pandered to her new bosses by making a joke (I guess the Today show powers-that-be were a little concerned about her sense of humor). With the exception of Joy Behar who seemed sincerely pissed off by the departure, it was all smiles and sweetness. Barbara Walters took the opportunity to pat herself on the back for discovering Meredith’s daytime potential and promised viewers nothing would change. Ha! They’re losing the glue that binds the group and I predict more changes will come.

So, I bid adieux to our morning TV sweetheart and wish her well. Was it the right choice? Only time will tell. Les Moonves is betting against the “voice of God” with a great gal. I for one look forward to the security of her quirky warmth and exuberance with my dinner. And, who knows, maybe she’s got an aged-like-fine-wine version of that ready for more serious stories of the day. I know when I lace up my skates during hockey season I leave a 42-year old CEO in the locker room and resurrect the spirit of a free-as-a-bird 21-year-old hockey player. In other words, we play the roles that are appropriate for the time, place and circumstances.

As for Ms. Viera, we’ll see you at breakfast soon. Congratulations!