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Video: Vieira announces TODAY departure

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    >>> commercial we said we'd be back with a big announcement about the future of the show. are we throwing another wedding? are we doing that again?

    >> how many more royals can we marry off?

    >> no, no. this is a difficult day for me. i'm going to try to hold myself together here. but after months of personal reflection and private conversations with my family and friends i have decided to leave "today" in june. even as i say this and i know that it is the right thing i'm really sad because for the past -- i like to say ten years but it's only been five -- this has been my second home. i look at you and the folks at home who don't get to see the wonderful men and women of the crew and everyone in the control room and across the street that bring the best show on television to the morning every day. i'm humbled at what a great experience it's been for me. i have had a great time, but time is one of those weird things you can never get enough of and i want to spend more of mine with my husband richard and my kids who are now rolling their eyes going, no more time, mom! but i'm going to do it anyway. it means that i can't be here every day. i hope to stay in the nbc family. that's my goal. but it won't be sitting at the couch every day. it was september 2006 when i sat down next to matt at the anchor desk and i realized he was going to be really annoying. you said something to me that morning --

    >> get out. i think i said, are you wearing that?

    >> i was so nervous and you said, remember, this is not a sprint. it's a long distance run. i have tried to run it with my heart and soul and i pass the baton to someone i know who will do great.

    >> there are a lot of things i would like to say about meredith and her decision. but suffice it to say that i think we all feel blessed to have had these last five or six years with you. you should know at home that meredith is universally adored here at "today," not just by those of us on the couch but all the people behind the scenes . she's brought class and dignity and talent and a joy of life to this show over the last five years. we will miss you like crazy . but we are going to have a little time at least. we have a few weeks to torment you -- i mean pay tribute to you and we'll do a lot of that. transitions on this show don't happen often. they are rare. so when they do we try to accomplish them with ease and make them seamless but bring new talent and energy and a new perspective to the show. as we are sad to say good-bye to meredith , we are thrilled that ann curry will be taking the a step from this cushion, leaping over here and coming over to this cushion. ann has been such a key member of the show for more than 15 years, has brought her warmth and her desire to tell important stories to "today." i know you will continue to do that. congratulations.

    >> so sweet. you know, i feel like the high school computer nerd who was just asked to the prom by the quarterback of the football team . you're just the best. i'm so excited to work with you, but i have to say i think this day is really meredith 's. i just want you to know that you have been a gift to this broadcast. you have been generous and you have been a great girlfriend. and i know that i have said this to you and i need to say it publically which is to say if i could choose, you would not go. you would stay here and let us wake up with you every morning -- not literally, but you know. i have this sort of -- i'm trying to resist the urge but it's true that i have big shoes to fill. i know you like your shoes and you tonight want people to think you have big feet, but it's true. we have all felt the great joy of having you here. you're right. he's not easy to work with.

    >> annoying.

    >> no, no. he's the best.

    >> really the best.

    >> just to be in your company and be able to wake up -- i know i will get to laugh more because of you and because of you, al. so i'm really so grateful that you have extended yourself to me. i think the other part of the good news this morning is we also get to keep it in the family , as it were and announce that natalie will be taking my job.

    >> all right.

    >> you have been so great. you have been here for five years, have been a correspondent for us and you have been co-hosting the 9:00 with us. it will be great to have you. we'll continue the girlfriend part and also make sure you have to hang out with us.

    >> i'll be here. i'm going to be out there with lenny.

    >> he's going, oh, no!

    >> and i'll be drinking. anything could happen.

    >> more.

    >> yeah.

    >> and they are telling me, yes, we are also having another wedding. we are doing the wedding again. i don't know about that. anyway, a lot to get to over the next several weeks and we'll have some fun and

updated 5/9/2011 7:44:25 AM ET 2011-05-09T11:44:25

After nearly five years as co-anchor of TODAY, Meredith Vieira has decided to leave the show in June. Ann Curry will take her place as co-anchor of America’s No. 1 morning show alongside Matt Lauer. Meredith will continue in a new role at NBC News, with an official announcement in the coming months.

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TODAY’s current third hour co-host, Natalie Morales, has been named news anchor, and NBC News White House correspondent and msnbc anchor Savannah Guthrie will be co-host of the third hour of TODAY. The new anchor team will debut in June.

“This is a difficult day for me,” Meredith said in an emotional announcement on TODAY Monday. “I’m going to try to hold myself together here. But after months of personal reflection and private conversations between my family and my friends, I've decided to leave TODAY in June.

“I’ve really had a great time, but time is one of those weird things; you can never get enough of it,” she said. “And it just keeps ticking away, and I know that I want to spend more of mine with my husband, Richard, and my kids, Ben, Gabe and Lily.”

Story: Departing Vieira: My husband ‘is in good health’

Matt Lauer spoke for the TODAY team when he said they felt “blessed” to have worked with Meredith. “Meredith is universally adored here at TODAY,” he said. “And not just by those of us on the couch, but all the people behind the scenes. She has brought class and dignity and talent. And a joy of life to this show over these last five years. And we will miss you like crazy.”

“You’ve been a gift to this broadcast,” Ann Curry chimed in. “You have been generous and you have been a great girlfriend.”

TODAY’s anchors aren’t the only ones who will miss Meredith when she leaves the show. “Meredith is a remarkable woman and broadcaster who in five short years has left an indelible imprint on morning television,” NBC News president Steve Capus said in a statement. “While we will miss waking up with her each morning, we are working together on developing her next chapter at NBC News.”

allDAY: 10 reasons we love Meredith

TODAY executive producer Jim Bell said in a statement, “Meredith has been a part of the family since day one, connecting not only to our viewers, but also to each and every member of TODAY. Her transition into the role of co-anchor alongside Matt was as seamless as anyone in my position could have ever hoped for or imagined. With an innate grace and a rare combination of humor and humanity, she truly breaks the mold.”

Meredith, 57, joined Matt at the anchor desk in September 2006 when Katie Couric left to anchor the CBS Evening News. Since then, the TODAY audience has come to know Meredith as a distinguished and savvy newswoman — with a zany streak.

Slideshow: The many sides of Meredith (on this page)
Meredith announced her plans to leave the show in an emotional TODAY segment Monday.

Meredith has brought warmth and empathy to her interviews, and she has profiled many individuals who have undergone significant tragedies or unexpected upheavals in their lives. She introduced the world to Charla Nash, the woman who survived an unspeakable chimp attack that disfigured her face, but didn't dampen her spirit. She also brought viewers the emotional story of David Goldman, the New Jersey man who fought a five-year custody battle to recover his son Sean from his ex-wife’s family in Brazil.

Archive video: Meredith recounts career on first day

Meredith has conducted hard-hitting interviews with political figures such as Sen. Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, and she spoke with former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson in her first-ever live television interview after her identity was revealed. Her memorable exclusive celebrity interviews include Janet Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Susan Boyle, Kate Gosselin, and Madonna.

TODAY has also been a place for Meredith to show off her humorous side, whether while ice skating with Will Ferrell (and smacking her head on the ice!), dressing up as Lady Gaga for Halloween or joking about polishing James Franco’s Oscar.

Meredith the professional
Meredith — a native of Providence, R.I., and a graduate of Tufts University in Massachusetts — began her journalism career in 1975. Her first job was a news announcer position for WORC-Radio in Worcester, Mass.

She went on to join CBS News as a reporter in its Chicago bureau in January 1982. She was named a correspondent in 1984 and covered Sen. Alan Cranston’s presidential bid, the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco and, as a correspondent, election night 1984.

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Meredith spent more than a decade at CBS News, where she earned five Emmy Awards for her work as a correspondent on newsmagazines and "West 57th” and "60 Minutes." She was a co-editor of "60 Minutes” from 1989 to 1991, and left the program when she was pregnant with her second child.

In 1993 she joined ABC and became chief correspondent of “Turning Point,” which debuted in March 1994. In 1997, she joined ABC’s “The View” as one of its original moderators.

Today, she continues to serve as host of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” a position she’s held since 2002. She won two Daytime Emmy Awards for her role on that show, in 2005 and again in 2009.

Meredith the person
Perhaps more than any other position she’s held, Meredith's role as TODAY co-anchor has allowed her to open up to millions — and has allowed viewers to feel as if they know her personally. Meredith took TODAY viewers with her on a journey to explore her family's Portuguese heritage, and invited us to join her as she returned to her very first job as a tap-dancing instructor. Viewers have gotten to know her family, including her mischievous dog Jasper , a frequent visitor to the TODAY set.

Video: Watch Meredith’s emotional announcement of her departure (on this page)

Meredith's husband, Emmy-award winning journalist Richard Cohen, has also appeared on TODAY. During a three-part series that aired in January 2008, the author and multiple sclerosis sufferer discussed his book, “Strong at the Broken Places,” which tells hopeful stories about five people also living with chronic illnesses.

“We’re all human beings, we’re not cases,” Cohen told TODAY’s Ann Curry. “We’re people trying to build lives, trying to have relationships, families, and lead a very productive, satisfying life.”

In the next chapter of her life, Meredith says she looks forward to spending more time with Richard and their three children — and sleeping in. She knows she is leaving TODAY in capable hands with Ann Curry in the anchor seat.

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Ann Curry has been TODAY’s news anchor since March 1997, and has has distinguished herself in global humanitarian reporting, frequently traveling to remote areas — including Haiti, Sudan, Serbia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — to find and highlight important, under-reported stories. Working alongside Matt Lauer, Ann will continue to report on the news and newsmakers that matter most to TODAY’s viewers.

“Ann has been such a key member of this show for more than 15 years, has brought her warmth and her desire to tell important stories to TODAY,” Matt said on Monday. “And I know you'll continue to do that, so congratulations.”

“So sweet. So sweet. You know, I feel like the high school computer nerd who was just asked to the prom by the quarterback of the football team,” Ann responded.

See more of Ann’s reporting, photography at AnnCurry.msnbc.com

In a statement, TODAY executive producer Jim Bell said, “We now head into TODAY’s next chapter with a woman who can quite literally leap tall buildings in a single bound. Often reporting from different time zones and disaster scenes, Ann Curry is one of the hardest-working women in television, and she couldn’t be more valuable as our newest co-anchor.”

NBC News president Steve Capus said, “As Meredith turns the page, we are so very fortunate to welcome Ann as co-anchor. I’ve known her since our early days together on ‘NBC News at Sunrise’ and it’s been a joy to watch her break news, break boundaries and evolve into one of America’s top journalists. She’s beloved by our viewers and our news division.”

Slideshow: Ann Curry’s distinguished career at NBC News (on this page)
After leaving the show in June, Meredith will continue in a new role at NBC News. “Don’t wave goodbye!” Ann told Meredith on TODAY Monday. “If I could choose, you would not go.”

Natalie Morales has been a member of the TODAY family for more than five years. She joined the show as a national correspondent in February 2006 and was named co-host of the third hour in March 2008. Morales has also served as a national correspondent for all NBC News platforms, including “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” Dateline NBC,” and msnbc. Prior to joining TODAY, Morales was an anchor and correspondent at msnbc from March 2002 to February 2006. 

allDAY: Fans react to news of Meredith’s departure
Plaza superfan Linny bids farewell to Meredith

Savannah Guthrie currently serves as NBC News White House correspondent as well as the co-host of “The Daily Rundown” on msnbc. She contributes to all NBC News properties including “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” TODAY and msnbc. 

“We have the luxury to bring such talent like Savannah up from DC to join the TODAY team — she'll be great in the 9 a.m. hour and everywhere else we can showcase her legal and political background,” said Capus. “With the strength of TODAY’s many valuable players both on air and behind the scenes, we will undoubtedly accomplish another smooth transition and continue to be who America turns to every morning.”

As for the TODAY anchors, they still have some time to revisit their favorite Meredith memories before she leaves in June. “We’ve got a few weeks to torment you — I mean, pay tribute to you — and we’re going to do a lot of that,” Matt promised Meredith.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive.  Reprints

Photos: The many sides of Meredith

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  1. Meredith Vieira, a TODAY co-anchor from 2006 to 2011, rejoined TODAY for a morning after the broadcast teased that a "legend will return." After she hung out for a bit with Linny on the plaza, she revealed she'd play a part in TODAY's 2012 London Olympics coverage. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Meredith was named a special correspondent on "Rock Center with Brian Williams." She debuted with a story about Mimi Alford, a woman who said she had an affair with President John F. Kennedy while serving as a White House intern in 1962. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Meredith stopped by Kathie Lee and Hoda's hour of TODAY Feb. 2 to chat about what she's been up to since leaving the broadcast. After the fourth-hour gals congratulated her on her success, Meredith joked they must be "drunk." (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Meredith stands with Deborah Norville, far left, Katie Couric, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie, Ann Curry and Natalie Morales during TODAY's special 60th anniversary show Jan. 13. (Peter Kramer / Peter Kramer/NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. After nearly five years as co-anchor of TODAY alongside Matt Lauer, Meredith took leave of the show on June 8, 2011. Ann Curry took her place as co-anchor of America's No. 1 morning show. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. In an emotional farewell on Rockefeller Plaza June 8, 2011, Meredith received heartfelt tributes and good wishes from Al Roker, Matt and Ann. (Brendan McDermid / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. On June 8, 2011, her last day as a TODAY anchor, Meredith received a rousing musical tribute from the show's entire family, as well as late-night host Jimmy Fallon (with guitar), on Rockefeller Plaza. (Brendan McDermid / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Meredith has been the host of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" since 2002, and that same year she hosted the "Super Soap Special Edition" of the show (pictured). Here, she talks with the contestant and Eva LaRue and John Callahan from "All My Children." (Matt Stroshane / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Meredith served as a co-editor of CBS’s “60 Minutes” from 1989 to 1991. Here, past and present correspondents of the program join Don Hewitt, the executive producer, lower left, on stage for a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 24th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards held in New York on Sept. 3, 2003. From left to right, at rear, Christiane Amanpour, Diane Sawyer, Steve Kroft, Meredith Vieira, and executive editor Philip Scheffler. Middle row, Bob Simon, Lesley Stahl, Ed Bradley, Morley Safer and Andy Rooney. (Stuart Ramson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Meredith has been honored with eight Emmy awards, including a Daytime Emmy for best morning newscast for her work on TODAY. She earned five Emmys during her 10-year tenure at CBS News, and picked up two Daytime Emmys as outstanding game show host for her work on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” (Scott Gries / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Meredith joined ABC’s “The View” as one of its original moderators in 1997. She left the show in June 2006 and joined TODAY in September of that year. Here she bids goodbye during her farewell show, as her co-host Barbara Walters looks on. (Steve Fenn / ABC via AP file) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Meredith and her husband, Richard Cohen, who has battled multiple sclerosis and colon cancer, steal a kiss at a New York news conference in 2006. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Bronx resident Linny Boyette is one of TODAY’s biggest fans, appearing on Rockefeller Plaza every morning during the show’s broadcast. Here Meredith poses outside the NBC studio with Linny on her first day at TODAY, Sept. 13, 2006. (Jason Decrow / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. For TODAY’s annual Halloween extravaganza, Meredith has transformed into Princess Leia, Pinocchio, Lily from “The Munsters,” and most recently, Lady Gaga. In 2006, she arrived to the set on a clamshell, dressed as a mermaid. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. During her TODAY tenure, Meredith conducted numerous newsmaker interviews, from chimp attack victim Charla Nash to singing sensation Susan Boyle. On Dec. 18, 2006, her interview with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton aired. During the interview, Clinton offered the broadest indication yet that she was close to a decision on whether to enter the 2008 Democratic presidential field. (Virginia Sherwood / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Actor Will Ferrell took Meredith for a spin on the Rockefeller Center ice rink during his show appearance on March 27, 2007, just before the opening of his comedy film “Blades of Glory.” He attempted to show Meredith a stunt, but instead the good sport fell on her back and hit her head, exclaiming, "Ow, that hurt!" (Richard Drew / ap) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. On April 19, 2007, Meredith and Matt reported on a video manifesto and photos sent to NBC from Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho, shown on a studio monitor at left. NBC said the package contained a rambling and often incoherent 23-page written statement, 28 video clips and 43 photos. Gunman Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and wounded many others before committing suicide during the Virginia Tech attacks on April 16, 2007. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Author J.K. Rowling reads to fans in Edinburgh, Scotland, from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" during Meredith’s July 2007 interview. This was Rowling’s only television interview about her final Harry Potter volume. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. On Feb. 21, 2008, TODAY broadcast live from Vermont’s Sugarbush Resort. The always-intrepid Meredith took the Penguin Plunge into the freezing waters of Lake Champlain to benefit Special Olympics Vermont. (She probably did not opt for the double-dip.) (Toby Talbot / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Meredith will be the first to admit that she’s useless in the kitchen, but in November 2009, she bravely battled consummate hostess Martha Stewart in a heated holiday apple-pie bake-off. Even though Meredith shamelessly admitted to using a pre-made crust, we give her points for panache. (NBC ) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Viewers saw Meredith’s compassion as a journalist in her coverage of events like the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and the death of pop icon Michael Jackson. In July 2009, Meredith and TODAY team broadcast live from the Michael Jackson Memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (Trae Patton / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Always game to try something new, Meredith shares a laugh with the Paralympic curling team during the 100 Days to Vancouver celebration on Nov. 4, 2009, at Rockefeller Center. Meredith, Matt, Al, Ann and Natalie all traveled to Vancouver in February 2010 to broadcast live from the XXI Olympic Winter Games. (Mike Stobe / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and Meredith go way back: During the Vancouver Games, the skater and “Dancing With the Stars” champ gave Meredith some skating tips, and showed her how to dance the tango. Eight months after the Games, Ohno sat down with Meredith to chat about his new book, “Zero Regrets,” and his journey to becoming a record-breaking athlete. (NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Jasper, Meredith’s dog and jogging partner, has appeared on the show several times alongside the anchor. Always the loyal companion, here Jasper participates in a segment about canine learning abilities and vocabulary recognition. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. On Aug. 20, 2010, Meredith and actress and cancer survivor Maura Tierney threw the first pitch at Fenway Park before the Boston Red Sox game against the Toronto Blue Jays in support of the Jimmy Fund, which supports adult and pediatric cancer care and research. Meredith’s husband, Richard Cohen, has survived two bouts with colon cancer. (Gail Oskin / Getty Images ) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. For Halloween 2010, Meredith channeled her diva spirit and took the stage as Lady Gaga, working it to “Bad Romance” – with blond locks, bold outfit and back-up dancers to boot. (Jonathan D. Woods / Today.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. There’s no denying that Meredith has a way with the fellas, including cheeky actor Russell Brand. Anchor and actor have had a couple of innocent, flirtatious exchanges during Brand’s visits to the TODAY set. (Peter Kramer / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. One of Meredith’s most recent newsmaker interviews was her sit-down with Donald Trump. In the wide-ranging interview that aired April 7, 2011, Trump spoke pointedly about Obama's presidency, foreign affairs, and the possibility of running for president. "Right now, I have some real doubts" about Obama’s citizenship, he told Meredith. (Kelly Conaty / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. In her nearly five years at TODAY, Meredith covered several major news stories, from the 2008 presidential election to the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Along with Ann, Matt and Natalie, Meredith reported live from London for the widely-watched nuptials. (Mark Allan / NBC) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Today - 2012
    Above: Slideshow (29) The many sides of Meredith
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    Slideshow (30) Ann Curry’s distinguished career at NBC News


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