Meredith Vieira stepped into the daytime fray with her own talk show on Monday.
Ever since Oprah Winfrey left to form OWN, daytime has chewed up and spit out most of those who tried to claim the space: Katie Couric, Bethenny Frankel and Kris Jenner among them.
Why this show?
“I missed you. I did,” she said in response to the question. “Daytime television has this unique ability to reach people on a personal level… It’s a privilege and I don’t take it for granted.”
Joined by her husband, Richard Cohen, and her daughter, Lily, Vieira joked that her daughter was her favorite by default. Her brothers were unable to make it.
Tears began flowing quickly during a pre-taped video featuring Vieira’s husband and her kids listing some of the funny aspects of her personality.
“She curses like a sailor,” the kids agreed.
She also cries easily, as evidenced when her two boys stepped out from backstage at the end of the video.
The show isn’t a tour de force by any means. While Vieira is still as expressive as ever, certainly some of the bounce in her step isn’t as high as we remember. But, that’s life.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t going to give it her all during a karaoke challenge with first guest Jennifer Lopez. She even attempted to sing and gesture Lopez’s recent single, “I Luh Ya Papi” joined by “Today’s” Hoda Kotb, in a surprise appearance.
The show also has the requisite fun segments like “The List,” in which Vieira lists the things that she wants to talk about.
She and her producers certainly got the memo: Daytime’s audience is made up of stay-at-home moms and dads. The set is styled after her own family room. The family video and her sons’ surprise appearance to a segment on a program that gives physically challenged young girls the opportunity to dance all scream family fare – leaning toward the tearjerker.
Vieira is universally well-liked on pretty much every show she has fronted from ABC’s “The View” and NBC’s “Today” to the syndicated “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”
It’s easy to see why. She comes off unguarded and just like us. If she can keep that up, she may actually do well in the daytime sphere.