This morning was Meredith Vieira’s last on the Today show, and predictably there were a lot of retrospective clip reels and tearful moments. But one thing I thought the show did masterfully was one of the cheesiest segments of the whole program: a massive lip dub to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. (Don’t know what a lip dub is? Here’s a good example.) Vieira didn’t know what was happening as her fellow stars led her through the Today studio, passing by producers, security, cameramen, and reporters all wearing matching “[heart] Meredith” T-shirts, eventually ending up on the plaza in Rockefeller Center, where everyone joined together for the final chorus. It was silly and sweet, and it left Vieira sobbing.
But even more than being sappy, it also served to send a firm reminder of just what the Today show is. Now that Ann Curry is rising to Meredith’s place and Katie Couric will potentially be contributing over at Good Morning America, the folks at ABC News might be looking at this summer as their moment to surge. They’ve got a good lineup with George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, Josh Elliot, and Sam Champion (and now maybe Couric), and Today is slightly in flux.
But watching all of the beloved characters from NBC — Lester Holt, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Amy Robach, Natalie Morales, Al Roker, WIllie Geist, Jenna Bush-Hager, Savannah Guthrie, Jimmy Fallon, and others — running around, having fun, and genuinely seeming to like each other sent out a signal that they’re still the alpha dog. (Also it’s a reminder that they have the contracting to use real pop music during their segments, while the other morning shows don’t). NBC is unparalleled at developing out likeable, relatable talent and making a cohesive, unified brand. This morning they made sure viewers were reminded of that, and rivals were put on notice: Yes, Mama Meredith is leaving, producers seemed to be saying, but the rest of the family is nothing to mess with.
(For what it’s worth, here’s an example of the Today show magic working slightly less … magically)