Tag Archives: Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira Taking No Credit for ‘Millionaire’ Changes

Meredith Vieira NBC photo

Meredith Vieira says she shouldn’t be given any credit for the many changes that are being made this season in “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”  Vieira, who’s in her ninth season of hosting the daytime syndicated version of the show that returns today (9/13), makes it known, “I don’t make any of the decisions. That’s not my job, but they did run things by me.”

She acknowledges she wasn’t exactly overwhelmed when she first learned of some of the changes (including doing away of the Hot Seat so that she and the contestants stand through the program; a new “Jump the Question” that gives a contestant the chance to skip a question; the fact a contestant never walks away with less than $1,000; and in round two, one only has to answer four questions — valued at $100,000, $250,000, $500,000 and $1,000.000).

My reaction was, ‘But that’s not ‘Millionaire’ and I was told, ‘Play the game and then decide.’ And they were right. There’s a new excitement to the program.”

Those votes of excitement were echoed by former “Millionaire” contestants the show enlisted for run-throughs of the reworked program.

“They loved it,” says Meredith.  “So do I.”

She particularly loves the fact that the traditional first five questions have been changed so that there’s now a greater risk and a greater reward at stake.  “It’s helped do away with a predictability on the show. It’s really for the best.”

Meredith Vieira Looks Ahead

Meredith Vieira

Meredith Vieira, who kicks off her ninth season of the syndicated weekday version of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ on September 13, is making no predictions as to where she’ll be next year at this time.

Her contracts with both ‘Millionaire’ and ‘Today’ are in their final year, and as the charming, erudite Vieira puts it, ‘I can’t imagine how I will feel in a year.  I’m not there yet.  I never look ahead, but, much as I love  my work, a part of me looks at how hard I’ve worked and realizes I’d like to spend more time at home.’

Her son Ben is a senior in college, son Gabriel ,19 ,is in his sophomore year in a university and  17-year-old daughter Lily is a senior in  high school and Meredith feels that  ‘Next year when  the kids  are all  gone from home, I’d love to be able to be more flexible with my time .. I work two kinds of crazy jobs now with lot of tension and the fact is I actually like solitude — and sitting alone with my husband enjoying a bottle of wine isn’t all that bad.’  She’d also like to spend more time doing another of her favorite things: exercising.

Says Meredith,’ I love running, racing, anything outside.  I was training for the  New York marathon. but tore my hamstring and just hope I’ll be in shape to run the race in November.’

Her legs are currently getting a test as she tapes the new season of ‘Millionaire’ that, among its many changes, calls for an end of the legendary Hot Seat, with Meredith and contestants standing for the length of the program.  She is gung-ho about  the new format.  ‘I can interact with the contestants more when we’re standing.  I know like being able to move around the stage.’  The fact she tapes five shows a day — 15 shows a week — might lead some to assume the new format is a physical grind for her, but she says, ‘I could also find a seat if I were tired, but it hasn’t been happening.’

YouTube Clip Flap No Concern to Vieira

Susan Boyle, Meredith Vieira - NBC News photo

Susan Boyle, Meredith Vieira - NBC News photo

Quite some fuss being made over the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” clip currently getting lots of play on YouTube, in which Meredith Vieira refers to herself as a “horny old woman” as she blatantly flirts with a Naval officer contestant.

It’s no big deal, assures Meredith. The clip might seem new, she notes, but the fact is it came from an episode of the game show that shot some seven years ago, and has now, she figures, been rerun on The Game Show Network.

She’s hardly upset about the clip flap, figuring, “I’m flattered that some people evidently think I still look as I did seven years ago. I’m going to be 56 years old on December 30.”

She’s also glad the clip has brought added attention to “Millionaire.” “If it means getting more people in the tent, that’s great. Let’s face it, it’s hard to stay alive in syndication,” she adds, referring to the show that begins its “Million Dollar Tournament of Ten” Monday (11/9). “Though I still get my paycheck and as far as I know, things are fine.”

Meredith’s contract as co-host of “Today” expires next year and “Millionaire” the year after that. Thus far, she’s given little thought to renewal.

“I don’t tend to look far ahead, it makes me anxious,” she says. “I use the time to reflect on what I’m doing currently.”

That includes such ‘Today’ plans as the Nov. 18-20 guestings of “Twilight” and “New Moon” stars Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner. Also, the Thanksgiving week performances by Bon Jovi, Alicia Keys and, in her first live TV concert, “Britain’s Got Talent” sensation Susan Boyle.

“I don’t think I could get better than ‘Today,'” she says, “and I love ‘Millionaire.”

TWINKLE LITTLE STAR: Not only will viewers of Lifetime’s “Too Late to Say Goodbye” movie tomorrow (11/7) see Lauren Holly take on Rob Lowe in the true crime murder-mystery thriller drawn from Ann Rule’s best-selling book of the same title, they’ll also get a glimpse of possible future actor Henry Greco, age 5 — a.k.a. Lauren’s youngest son.

“He had a little part in it as one of my children, and it’s started a little career for him,” reports the actress, who now lives in Canada with her investment banker spouse, Francis Greco, and their three adopted boys.

Henry is rarin’ to go as an actor, she acknowledges, but notes with a laugh, “He’s also rarin’ to go to be an NHL star. As long as he loves acting, sure, he can try it. He goes to auditions. He feels really grown up, like it’s something we have in common. He was so good on the set and such a little professional.

“He’s grown up around sets. He was a fixture on ‘NCIS,'” recalls Holly, who informs that Henry’s done local commercials and talk show appearances. “He understands that it’s work and everyone has a job to do. In fact, he was quick to point out that a couple of the other kids maybe weren’t behaving the way they should have.”

Holly, who plays a woman adamant that her late sister would not have killed herself despite what the authorities say, hadn’t worked with Lowe before “Goodbye,” nor did she get a chance to get to know him before shooting began. “I met him the first day of production, but that was okay, because my character is suspicious of his.”

Lowe plays the brother-in-law who may not be quite the upstanding sort he wants people to believe. Interesting role for Rob.

THE VIDEOLAND VIEW: VH1’s pop culture recap show, “Best Week Ever,” has been put on a long hiatus, which has left fans wondering if the show is coming back. Host Paul F. Tompkins tells us he’s definitely out of a job, but he isn’t sure about the future of the show.

“My version of the show with me hosting is not coming back,” says Tompkins. “I had heard rumors that they may be bringing back the old format, but I haven’t heard an official word on that.”

When asked if he would go back to being one of the many on-air contributors if the show returned to its original style, he responds with a big fat NO! “I wouldn’t do it. I’m really proud of the show I did. I can’t go back after having hosted that show to just being one of many people. It would feel like a huge step back.”

However, the stand-up comedian says that won’t be the end of his TV days. “I’d love to get a steady gig hosting a television show again and that’s what I’m working on right now.”

In the meantime, Tompkins is hosting an episode of “Live at Gotham,” airing tonight (11/6) on Comedy Central. The show will feature the stand-up comedy of up and comers Nick Kroll, Eric Krug, Kent Haines, Thai Rivera, Daniel Kilpatrick, and Kumail Nanjiani.

“It was just a ball. It really took me back to the days I started out in standup when I would host the open mics,” he says. “All the comics were great. Nick Kroll is a buddy of mine who is really funny. Thai, who is this young, openly gay comic on there was really polished. You’re definitely going to be hearing from him. This is a great way for these younger comics to get that TV exposure to help bring them to a wider audience.”

CASTING CORNER: Casting is underway for the actress who’ll play intrepid surfer Bethany Hamilton in the movie biography “Soul Surfer,” which is set to roll in January. You’ll recall the story of the young surfing champ who made a remarkable comeback after losing her arm in a near-fatal 2003 shark attack.

Her pluck won her recognition including a Teen Choice Award and an ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete of the Year. Obviously, it’s a role that will require some serious physicality.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster