Friday, February 14, 2014

Meredith Vieira Makes US TV History At Olympics Tonight, Subbing For Bob Costas

Olympics history will be made tonight — when Meredith Vieira becomes the first woman to ever anchor NBC’s prime time Olympic coverage. Vieira is taking over for Matt Lauer, who has filled in for the last three days as Bob Costas continues to deal with the effects of an infection that began in his left eye and spread to his right eye earlier this week.That was TV-historic too, ending Costas’ streak of 157 consecutive appearances as NBC’s Olympics anchor in primetime. It was the first time since 1988 Costas did not host the coverage. He’d soldiered on with the infection in one eye — then two — the first few days of NBC’s Olympics coverage before calling Costas in from the “bullpen” on Tuesday.”
Lauer told viewers that night Costas looked like the loser in a prize fight. Lauer pulled double duty three days, co-anchoring Today show for morning broadcast in the U.S. before stepping in for Costas in primetime and late night. NBC Olympics Executive Producer Jim Bell — formerly Today’s EP — said today Costas eyes have improved but are still very sensitive to light, so studio work is still out. Yesterday, Costas told Ryan Seacrest he hopes to be back at work by this weekend.

Some reporters covering NBC’s coverage of the Games had questioned the use of Lauer to fill in for Costas when the NBC Sports bench includes Al Michaels and Dan Patrick. Bell yesterday dodged a direct question as to whether either man would be Costas’ next replacement, telling an NYT reporter covering the Games, “We’re blessed with a lot of talent at NBC” and “We’ll see how Matt is doing.”

But Olympics isn’t just about sports for NBC — it’s about promoting other important NBCU properties — like the launch of Jimmy Fallon as next host of Tonight Show. The show’s former host Jay Leno said NBC asked him to step down a few months ahead of his contract’s end, in order to premiere Fallon as new host in the thick of Sochi Olympics coverage. Lauer is the somewhat polarizing host of NBC’s morning show Today which is trying to stage a ratings comeback during the Games, and has had some success, though it hasn’t been the walk-over Today usually enjoys when it comes to an Olympics –this past Tuesday, for instance, ABC’s dominant Good Morning America edged out Todayin overall audience. Giving Lauer the extra exposure in primetime, when NBC’s Games audience surges, was a no-brainer. Likewise, Vieira is headlining an NBCU syndicated daytime show debuting in the fall.

“It’s an honor to fill in for him,” Vieira phoned in to Team Today this morning during its What’s Trending segment. “You think about the Olympics, and you think the athletes and then Bob Costas.” She also joked she was talking to them from the bar.

Source: deadline

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