Vieira takes reins, and risks, with day­time talk show

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

NEW YORK — Mered­ith Vieira took the mi­cro­phone and ad­dressed the au­di­ence be­fore cam­eras were turned on at a re­cent tap­ing of her day­time talk show. She had a mock con­fes­sion to make. “It’s re­ally scary start­ing a new show,” she said. “I’ve been do­ing a lot of drink­ing.” Just like that, the au­di­ence was in her lap — and she didn’t even have to buy a round. Her bawdy per­son­al­ity and easy fa­mil­iar­ity with the rhythms of day­time tele­vi­sion give The Mered­ith Vieira Show a gen­uine shot in the tough world of day­time tele­vi­sion. The syn­di­cated show pre­mières Mon­day, air­ing at 3 p.m. on WDAZ/ABC and Global for Win­nipeg view­ers. Vieira, 60, who left the To­day show in 2011 and wrapped up her time as host of the syn­di­cated Who Wants to Be a Mil­lion­aire last year, found that she wasn’t ready to give up the spot­light. “I re­al­ized there were things that I missed, like con­nect­ing to peo­ple, which is very much the To­day show and very much The View,” she said in her back­stage of­fice after tap­ing two episodes re­cently. “I just hadn’t had enough.” Jen­nifer Lopez is her first guest, with Seth Ro­gen, Jessica Alba and Howie Man­del also sched­uled for open­ing week. Katie Couric, An­der­son Cooper and Jane Pauley are among the news-ori­ented per­son­al­i­ties who didn’t suc­ceed in day­time talk in re­cent years. Vieira, a for­mer 60 Min­utes cor­re­spon­dent, has a news back­ground, too. Un­like the oth­ers, she’s fa­mil­iar with the day­time mar­ket and vice versa. Not only is her name on the show, but Vieira is also heav­ily in­vested in the plan­ning. She hired Everett Bradley, a per­cus­sion­ist for Bruce Spring­steen, to lead an all-fe­male band. Her on-air side­kick is Jon Har­ris, a pub­lic re­la­tions ex­ec­u­tive whose chief qual­i­fi­ca­tion is be­ing Vieira’s buddy. “I didn’t want a fake friend,” she said. “I wanted a real friend.”

RICHARD SHOTWELL/IN­VI­SION

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