Meredith Vieira leaving ‘Today:’ The News Conference

By Chris Ariens 

There’s a news conference happening right now on the anchor changes coming to “Today.” Taking part: Steve Capus, NBC News President, Jim Bell, Executive Producer of “Today,” and anchors Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry, Al Roker, and Natalie Morales with Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, and Savannah Guthrie in the audience.

We’re listening in, and will update this post with the Q&A:

Capus: I appreciate you coming over on short notice… for the news of this state secret (laughter). It didn’t take Wikileaks to reveal this news.

Capus: Matt was absolutely right, Meredith is adored all around NBC News. To be able to turn to Ann and Natalie and Savannah in new roles and joining the linchpins of Matt and Al, we’re just thrilled.

Big round of applause for Hoda and Kathie Lee.

Bell: It’s truly been a pleasure working with Meredith. There’s no one else like here. I’m going to miss her terribly. We only had to go 10 feet over to the news desk for Ann Curry, who is really one of the best storytellers and beloved members of this family.

Vieira: I feel so good about Ann taking over because it will be entirely seamless. You don’t occupy a seat at TODAY forever. And now it’s time to go. And now it’s Ann’s Day.

Lauer: I have never enjoyed working with anyone more than Meredith.

Lauer: Ann and I have hosted the show together about 200 times in 15 years, so it feels totally natural.

Curry: [To Meredith] You’ve brought a graciousness to our broadcast. I don’t like change in the morning (laughter). [To Lauer] sitting next to you will be one of the greatest things in my life. [To

Savannah] Buckle up, it’s going to be a great ride.

Morales: I’ve grown so much with all of you and I’m excited to be a full member of the family.

Roker: I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a more self-less broadcaster than Meredith Vieira. It’s going to be a real hole when she leaves. I would posit that Ann is the conscience of our show (Roker mentions that Curry was a part of is wedding to ABC’s Deborah Roberts)

  • First question from Dave Bauder from the AP. Asks Meredith when she began thinking about leaving and when final show will be.

Vieira: Probably around January.  Final show will be June 8. Because my daughter graduates on June 9 and then we plan to take a family vacation. “I want to set the record straight.” My husband Richard is in good health and that’s part of the reason I want to leave.

  • Reporter from Entertainment Tonight asks Matt about comparing Katie Couric, Meredith and Ann.

Lauer: You can’t. Everybody is different. They are all different people and all have different lives. I have an incredible comfort level with all three.

  • B&C’s Andrea Morabito asks Vieira about her future with NBC.

Capus: We’d been thinking what would be a great outlet for Meredith. She has a ticket to the Today show anytime she wants, and we’re working up projects for her skill set.

  • EXTRA’s AJ Calloway on reports of Lauer leaving.

Lauer: AJ, my oldset son graduates in 2020. I think I’d like to be there for that. (Laughter) I’ve read the speculation and read the story. I have long-term deal with NBC. I love this job. I love this place. It’s not worth talking about. You’re going to get tired of asking that question.

  • Follow-up on Lauer’s interest in syndicated show with Couric.

Lauer: We certainly have spoken about the possibility. Bryant [Gumbel] is my best friend. We talk about ideas and things like that. As it turns out, it turned into just talk, and that’s where we left it and as I said I’m going to be here a long time.

  • Question about other networks’ anchor changes.

Capus: Our bench is so deep. They would be the A team across town.

Capus on changes to Guthrie’s MSNBC show: She’ll come off of that show. The show that they’ve built is very good, we’ll keep that going. (Reporter interjects about a new co-anchor for Chuck Todd) Capus: We’ll figure that out. Still working that out.

A couple more questions. Not much news.

News conference ends at 12:06pmET.