When the Today team finally said goodbye to co-anchor Meredith Vieira this morning while wearing custom “We Heart Meredith” t-shirts, there wasn’t a dry eye in or around Rockefeller Plaza. But before the last tearful tributes began, viewers were treated to a two-hour Viva Vieira sendoff that included plenty of highlight montages (remember when Miss Piggy questioned whether Meredith had the chops for the job?), commendations from the likes of Jack Black and Jay Leno, a special performance by Carole King (she sang “You’ve Got a Friend,” naturally), and a choreographed lipsynch to a certain Journey classic.
At the tail end of the broadcast, Matt Lauer and Vieira were sitting at a piano in the studio when a familiar tune began to play. Soon, Meredith was being led from the studio to the control room to the plaza, as her colleagues let loose with their best Steve Perry impressions. Jimmy Fallon and Abe Vigoda, of all people, showed up to play some pretend guitar and give a much-needed high-five, respectively. (In case you were wondering: Abe Vigoda is not dead yet.) Video of the performance isn’t yet available online, but you can read a rundown of it at Today‘s website.
Once the song was over, though, things got a little more serious. Each anchor in turn told Meredith how much he or she loved her. Matt Lauer’s tribute was particularly touching. He confessed to Meredith that he was tempted to default to sarcasm while talking about her, then admitted that that was only because he was “afraid that if I really tell you how I feel, I’m going to turn into a blubbering idiot.” Aww, look who’s not being glib!
In the end, a choked-up Meredith admitted that she didn’t want to leave after all. Unfortunately, though, she had no choice: “They changed the lock on my dressing room!” See the final fond farewells in the clip below.
Were you sorry to see Meredith go, PopWatchers? What did you think of the Today crew’s dance moves? And how great were Hoda and Kathie Lee’s “Wine Lovers Heart Meredith” shirts?