‘The View’: Meredith Vieira Didn’t Think Much of the Daytime Talk Show At First
When the original panel of The View premiered on ABC in 1997, it consisted of Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, Joy Behar, Barbara Walters, and Meredith Vieira.
Although the daytime talk show for women, featuring women, was an enormous hit from the start, Vieira wasn’t very keen about signing on at first.
Meredith Vieira has a great journalistic track record
Prior to joining The View, Vieira boasted a weighty journalism career that began as a radio announcer in 1975, and then television network reporting in Rhode Island and New York City.
She became nationally noticed when she joined CBS’ Chicago bureau in 1982. From there, the mother of three moved on to newsmagazines for the network including West 57th, 60 Minutes, and CBS Morning News.
In 1994, she was working for ABC on the newsmagazine Turning Point when Barbara Walters approached her about an all-female daytime talk show that she thought Vieira would be the ideal moderator for.
Walters wrote in Audition: A Memoir, about Vieira, “As a possible moderator, we were considering an attractive woman named Meredith Vieira. Meredith had, at one time, been a correspondent on 60 Minutes on CBS, but because at the time she had one young child and was pregnant with a second, she didn’t want to travel.”
“More recently, I knew Meredith from ABC, where she was working on a newsmagazine the network was trying out, called Turning Point. Unfortunately, the program didn’t make it. Meredith’s contract at ABC was not renewed, and she was at loose ends. I checked and heard from her producers that she was not just smart, but almost more important to me, possessed a wicked sense of humor.”
Vieira eventually left ‘The View’ for the ‘Today Show’
Almost ten years after joining The View, Vieira was offered in 2006 the career-changing position of filling the enormous shoes of Katie Couric as Matt Lauer’s co-anchor on the Today Show.
In 2007, Vieira told Good Housekeeping about her fear of having made the wrong decision in leaving The View.
“I thought, I’ll have to be careful with my personality — The View was anything goes, but this is the news division. I’m basically a night person, and those hours are daunting. Will I be able to pull this off?”
On waking up each day at 3:00AM for the morning show, the Rhode Island-born Vieira said she never knew what she would expect once she arrived at Rockefeller Center.
“It’s not so much the getting up,” she said, “it’s having to get up and bring something to the table every day. The most difficult thing is to stay in the moment and be able to switch gears. One minute you’re with Hillary Clinton or covering a mine disaster, the next minute you’re baking a pie or talking to Kool & The Gang. It’s like a roller coaster. It takes a lot out of you.”
Vieira was at first hesitant about joining ‘The View’ for this reason
For the former 60 Minutes correspondent, joining The View wasn’t even an option. She wasn’t familiar with the format, nor was she especially fond of it.
“I remember being very hesitant about even going to audition,” Vieira told Ramin Setoodeh, author of Ladies Who Punch. “I wasn’t somebody who watched daytime. . . and it had never been an area of television that interested me.”
Speaking with More magazine in 2006, Vieira opened up about how silly she felt not to take Walters’ offer seriously.
“A couple of days of being ashamed,” Vieira admitted, “and then I went, ‘Oh, this is great. … ‘ We don’t pretend to do journalism, though Barbara Walters and I have that background. But women want to hear our positions. They wanted to hear from us after 9/11.”