Who will take Vieira’s place on ‘Millionaire?’
It may not be a “million dollar question,” but many are wondering nonetheless: who will replace Meredith?
Last week, Meredith Vieira announced her plans to retire as host of the popular daytime game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. After replacing Regis Philbin in 2002, Vieira went on to host the show for eleven years and win two Daytime Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Game Show Host.” Vieira has finished filming the show’s latest season, and those episodes will air until May, when Vieira’s contract expires.
Personally, I think Vieira made the right decision. She said she wants to leave the show to focus on more projects at NBC News, and I can understand her wanting to try new things after a decade-long run on one program. Some may criticize her for relinquishing a steady, well-paid job on Millionaire. Although I probably would not have left if it were me, one could argue she doesn’t need to worry about money at this point in her long career in television.
As for Vieira as a host, although she was humorous on the show—obviously enough to win two Emmys—I believe her “talky” personality truly fits the news. When watching her introduce the contestants on Millionaire, I often felt as if I was watching her speaking to someone on The View rather than on a lighthearted, fast-paced game show. Vieira has previously worked as a co-anchor for The Today Show and still returns to NBC as a news correspondent, so she will continue working in a field that suits her well.
With Vieira leaving, however, who will be the new host of Millionaire?
Regis Philbin is my first pick. He might not be a “fresh face,” but sometimes there’s just no substitute for the original. Philbin hosted Millionaire in its earliest, very successful primetime stage. From 1999 to 2002, he popularized the now-famous Millionaire question (“is that your final answer?”) and his trademark, monochromatic fashion. In fact, the producers of Millionaire have already contacted Philbin and asked if he would be interested in the position. If he responds in the affirmative, it would be a pleasure to see him bring his classy but lively attitude to the show again.
Another person I would love to see sitting across from the “hot seat” is Joel McHale. Watch this quick-witted and energetic comedian for five minutes, and you’ll know he’s made for television. McHale is younger than both Philbin and Vieira and could bring a new, dynamic approach to Millionaire. His experience as host of The Soup—a comedy show on E! Entertainment Television—even qualifies him to take Meredith’s place. Watch out, Millionaire contestants: McHale’s sarcastic humor will make him entertaining for us to watch, but he’s someone who will enjoy keeping you on your toes.
I wish I could add Betty White to this list. She has experience hosting Hollywood on Television, has undergone a recent a surge in popularity and would make a hilarious (not to mention adorable) 91-year-old host. Since she’s busy filming Hot in Cleveland, however, I seriously doubt ABC would approach her with an offer.
Overall, Meredith Vieira has left her mark on daytime TV and will forever be known as a host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. However, it will be interesting to see a new host take her place—and the changes they will bring to the now-14 year-old program.
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