The NBC Olympics primetime host chair has become somewhat of a musical chair, after regular host Bob Costas was hit by a nasty case of pink eye, which has forced him out for two nights already. Matt Lauer has been filling in, but now yet another anchor will take over, Meredith Vieira.
Vieira — who used to co-anchor the NBC Today show with Lauer a few years ago — will be the first female primetime Olympics anchor in network history.
“It’s an honor to fill in for him,” Vieira said Friday morning on Today. “You think about the Olympics, and you think the athletes and then Bob Costas.”
Bob Costas’ reign in primetime coverage for NBC began in 1998 and had continued uninterrupted for 157 nights — until Wednesday — when he was forced to take time off due to his stubborn eye infections, as the studio lights were making him tear up constantly and it was simply too distracting for viewers.
The unusual situation has become the butt of social media jokes, but there is light at the end of the tunnel for the 61-year-old veteran sportscaster.
— Pirate Journal (@Pirate_Journal) February 14, 2014
“Bob’s eye issue has improved, but he’s not quite ready to do the show,” NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell said Friday.
Matt Lauer filled in for Costas when the eye situation forced him to step aside despite valiant efforts to do his job, but the Today show requested a break on Friday night as he is also co-anchoring the morning show every day of the week.
When Bob Costas announced he would take time off he said:
“Reluctantly, I was trying to throw a complete game here, but I think we’re going to have to go to the bullpen, and I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but you’re Mariano Rivera, at least tonight. Let’s hope it’s only tonight. I’m walking around, I might as well be playing ‘Marco Polo.’ I have no idea where I am.”
Meredith Vierira co-hosted the opening ceremonies alongside Matt Lauer last Friday night and will do the honors in primetime for “one or two nights”, Deadline reports.
Bell says NBC is not yet ready to be done with Bob Costas in the Sochi Olympics: “Getting into next week, it may become a topic of conversation, but we’re not there. We’ll wake up tomorrow, see how Bob is doing, and make a decision then.”