Vieira Readying Her Return To The Daily Fray
Meredith Vieira and the team working on her upcoming syndicated talk show, perhaps taking a cue from high expectations set by Disney-ABC for its underperforming Katie, are clear about one thing: The Meredith Vieira Show isn’t going to break the bank. The show’s producers will hold down costs by, among other things, taping two episodes a day three days a week.
That’s the plan 14 months prior to the debut of Meredith from NBC Studios and Meredith Vieira Productions. The show’s launch group, NBC Owned Television Stations, yesterday picked it up on all its 10 stations, including WNBC New York and KNBC Los Angeles. NBC Owned stations reach 27% of TV homes. NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution is distributing the show.
Vieira, who has co-hosted NBC’s Today, ABC’s The View and hosted Disney-ABC’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire, spoke with TVNewsCheck’s Kevin Downey about her upcoming talk show, which will center on her views on newsy issues, along with lighthearted banter with a sidekick, games, celebrities and everyday people in heart-warming segments.
An edited transcript:
You’ve been working in syndication for more than a decade on Millionaire. How has that prepared you to launch a syndicated talk show?
I don’t really pay attention to whether it’s a syndicated show or a network show. I tend not to think about those things. I’d freeze. I need to pay attention to doing my job.
I just know a syndicated show is riskier, but with greater rewards if it works out.
I am going into this thinking of it as a fun project working with people I like in a professional environment where I call the shots.
Do you have an ownership stake in the show?
I do. I don’t really understand that part of it. But I own a production company and we own a certain percentage of it. I just want to do the best show we can. I don’t really want to think about that other stuff right now.
You have worked for years with TV station GMs on shows like Millionaire and Today. Do you plan to reintroduce yourself to them?
It would be foolish of me and pretty egocentric to not want to personally introduce myself to stations. There are events where NBC wants me to have a presence.
I’m going to be working on some NBC News-related shows leading up to the show. In cities like Chicago or L.A., I will piggyback on that to meet with stations.
Did you speak with station GMs before taping the pilot to find out what kind of daytime show they want or need?
I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do on the show. The way I look at this show is that I want to bring my skill sets to it. I’ve done a lot of daytime television, from Millionaire to Today to The View. I have a degree in broadcast journalism.
I love to interview people, especially inspirational stories.
I love playing games and giving away money. That will be an element in the show, probably on a daily basis. We have to play that by ear. There is a certain amount of quirkiness that comes out in daytime television, so we will experiment with things like digital shorts.
What did you find out about the show when you taped a pilot in May?
A lot of what we did is experiment. We found that what didn’t work is as important, if not more important, than what did work.
We found that some segments fell flat. Being funny is not my forte and it’s not what I want to do. If there’s one word I am attaching to this show, it’s “authenticity.” I want to bring myself to this show.
Speaking of funny, The Meredith Vieira Show will lead into Steve Harvey and Ellen in some markets. How is that influencing the development of your show?
I think the conventional wisdom is that this will be a 2 p.m. show followed by Harvey and Ellen, although I don’t know that yet.
Humor will be part of it, but I’m not a comedian like Ellen [DeGeneres]. It would be inauthentic for me to do standup.
I want to have a good time. I want to be serious but not sanctimonious. I want to be inspirational. It has to have heart and humor. That is important to me.
That is where the quirkiness of having my furniture on the set comes in. I have three very destructive animals. It reflects the way a lot of us live our lives: in chaos. We are all just putting one foot in front of the other. That’s the vibe of the show.
What type of topics will you cover on the show?
I am not putting on my journalist hat. If I were doing the show now, I would have talked about a debate about the NSA and Snowden I had last weekend with my niece and her husband. They are in their late 20s.