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Couric to CBS, Viera close to signing with NBC


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As CBS nears a deal to make Katie Couric the next anchor of its evening news program, NBC moved close today to reaching agreement with Meredith Vieira of ABC to replace Ms. Couric as co-host of the "Today" show, a person who had been briefed on the negotiations said early this afternoon.


Under the terms of the deal, which could be completed as soon as this evening but is expected to be resolved no later than week's end, Ms. Vieira would sign a four-year contract worth at least $10 million a year and would take up her morning assignment on NBC just after Labor Day, said the person, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing.


While Ms. Vieira would leave her position as co-host of the talk show "The View" on ABC when her contract ends this summer, she and NBC have yet to resolve whether she would fulfill the two years that remain on her contract to be the host of the syndicated game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." That program is produced, in part, by Buena Vista Television, which, like ABC, is owned by the Walt Disney Company.


Though the individual with knowledge of the negotiations said there was a "strong possibility" that an agreement with Ms. Vieira would be struck over the next few days, no announcement is believed to be imminent, at least not before Ms. Couric discloses her own plans.


Ms. Vieira's agent, Michael Glantz, did not immediately respond to a message left this afternoon at his office. A "Today" show spokeswoman, Lauren Kapp, said she had no comment.


Ms. Vieira, 52, emerged earlier this year as the best-known candidate under consideration to replace Ms. Couric, who has been with "Today" for 15 years, a period in which it has dominated its closest competitor, "Good Morning America" on ABC. After beginning her career as a local television news reporter in the mid-1970's, Ms. Vieira went on to high-profile assignments at CBS News (including "60 Minutes") and later ABC News (the magazine "Turning Point").


Should it indeed come to terms with Ms. Vieira to replace Ms. Couric, NBC would bypass three internal candidates. One, Ann Curry, who signed a long-term contract last year to co-anchor the prime-time newsmagazine "Dateline," is expected to remain with "Today" as its news reader. Natalie Morales, a reporter and fill-in anchor on "Today," also recently signed a longer-term contract with the network.


It is not yet known how the arrival of Ms. Vieira would affect the future of Campbell Brown. She is co-anchor of the weekend edition of "Today" and the primary correspondent for "NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams." While she would be expected to serve as the main substitute for Mr. Williams, Ms. Vieira and Matt Lauer, the other co-anchor of "Today," she is also likely to receive offers from other networks when her contract expires, as soon as next year.




She is expected to announce her departure tomorrow on "Today".

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I am not upset by either move at all.


The new look of Today on NBC



The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric



Now CBS needs to finally get a big-time upgrade by moving the evening news to the street-level set they use for The Early Show and other CBS Sports shows.

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Viera is more qualified to be an Evening News Anchor than Couric is...


I guess it's all about image and popularity these days.


Actually, Katie has better credentials because in her 15 years at Today, she has had to do very serious anchoring including on Sept. 11, 2001....and she pulled through excellently. For her, CBS is just an extension of where she shines....hard news with soft anchoring. Today doesn't let her have an outlet, Dateline was too limiting, and MSNBC tried but the ratings were inconsistent due to bad scheduling.


No one would put Viera to anchor a nightly newscast because finding a pulse on her solo anchoring skills are not too easy. She has been hosting the View and the Millionaire game show and hasn't anchored solo in the last 15 years at least. She will do well at Today.

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