Counting Her Blessings
"This is a phenomenal job, but when I leave here I don't have a
glamorous life," she says. "My idea of heaven is puttering. I just want
to be home." On her wrist is a gold bracelet that her family gave her the
night before she started on Today. The single charm on a simple chain
reads We are with you. Love, Richard, Ben, Gabe, and Lily. "I've
only taken it off once — and it was a terrible day," Vieira says. "It's
never coming off again."
Terrible days have been blessedly rare for her on the show. But glorious or
difficult, all of them start at 3 a.m. "It's not so much the getting up,
it's having to get up and bring something to the table every day," Vieira
says. "The most difficult thing is to stay in the moment and be able to
switch gears. One minute you're with Hillary Clinton or covering a mine
disaster, the next minute you're baking a pie or talking to Kool & the
Gang. It's like a roller coaster. It takes a lot out of you."
And puts a lot back in. "There have been moments that meant a lot to
me," she says of her first year. "The Virginia Tech story was moving
and humbling." Talking to people involved in April's tragedy, after a
student on a shooting rampage killed 32 students and faculty and himself,
touched her deeply.
On the lighter side, Vieira fulfilled a girlhood fantasy and became a
Rockette at Radio City Music Hall for a day last November. "The people at
NBC said to me, ‘If there's something you've always dreamed of doing, you can
do it here.' The next thing I knew, there I was onstage, just kicking my legs
and having a great time. That was so neat. It was thrilling!
"One of the joys of this job is that you get to explore parts of
yourself you'd never get a chance to express, and parts of the world you'd
never get a chance to see," she says. Vieira has also traveled (with son
Ben) to China, the prelude to her covering the Summer Olympics in Beijing. All
this, and she's in her sixth year of hosting the syndicated version of Who
Wants to Be a Millionaire. "It's a little bit mind-boggling," she