Meredith Vieira is preparing for an early exit from NBC’s Today show, taking a bow some three months before her contract expires in September.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the 57-year-old Vieira will step aside in June, making way for news reader Ann Curry to slip into the seat next to Today co-host Matt Lauer.
While it’s no surprise that Vieira wants out—she has said that she wants to devote more time to her husband, Richard, and their three children—the decision appears to have caught NBC short. As recently as this week, Today executive producer Jim Bell was said to be trying to convince Vieira to re-up for one more season.
A former producer for CBS News and CNN, Vieira’s husband, Richard M. Cohen, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in his mid-20s.
Last October, Vieira told Ladies’ Home Journal that she had made her peace with the idea of leaving Today and her $11 million salary. “I’ll know when it’s time to go, and I’m not afraid to go,” she told writer Meryl Gordon. “If I were to leave at the end of next year because it’s time for me, I wouldn’t jump into another show. I would look forward to not working, to traveling with Richard and carving out time for us.”
Vieira signed on as the Today co-host in 2006. She replaced Katie Couric, who left the morning show to assume the anchor chair at CBS Evening News.
Earlier this month, Today extended its streak to 800 consecutive weeks as the most-watched morning show on the dial. In the week ended April 11, the show averaged 5.66 million viewers, besting ABC’s Good Morning America (4.81 million) and CBS’ Early Show (2.66 million).