In Cannes, I was surprised to see that Meredith Vieira is now a movie producer. A film she produced called “Return” was the only American feature in the Director’s Fortnight. Directed by Liza Johnson and starring Linda Cardellini of “ER” fame. The film was much better than I thought–quite riveting, and Cardellini is excellent. So are real life husband and wife John Slattery and Talia Balsam, as well as hot as a pistol Michael Shannon.
Our Leah Sydney caught up with the departing “Today” show anchor at the Alliance for Women in Media’s 36th Annual Gracie Awards at the Beverly Hilton. “I have a production company called Meredith Vieira Productions. Original, right? I was the executive producer on a film called “Return,” written and directed by Liza Johnson which was in the Directors Fortnight in Cannes, where it was beautifully received. We’re looking for a distributor now. .I’ve always been interested in behind the scenes work-and this project came to us through the Sundance Lab. Next project is James Braly’s one man show called, “Life in a Marital Institution.” He did it off Broadway and did very well, and now we’re hoping to turn it into a feature.“
Vieira talked about leaving “Today,” too:
“It’s bittersweet. It was a tough decision to make-but I had to follow my heart. When I first signed on with Jeff Zucker, I said at the time four years. Jeff-that’s it-I’m not a morning person. When the four years was up, I wasn’t ready to leave so I signed for a fifth year. But I knew this past January that it was time. I really want to spend time with my family, that’s important to me. The Today show is phenomenal, I love everybody , but you really are controlled by the show. It’s a news show-when the bell rings you have to go-and every morning I’m up at 2:30am. As much as I love it, but I want a little bit more flexibility at this time in my life. I reached the point in my life and career where I’m very comfortable with the decisions that I make. They may not be the conventional ones, but that’s ok. “
Vieira could imagine moving to Los Angeles for her new career. She told Sydney:
“I love LA and I would in a second. My husband is a real east coast person, though. He told me to go if I want and take the kids and the dog. I love it here, but I love my husband more.”
Also toasted at the lunch: Linda Ellerbee, Joan Lunden, Chelsea Handler ( who was with main squeeze Andre Balaz) , Peggy Fleming, NBC Reporter Anne Thompson, Shaun Robinson.