In a recent tweet, Meredith Vieira marveled over the "The Wizard of Oz's" 75th anniversary and shared that it's her "favorite movie of all time."
When asked why the film holds such significance, the host of the new daytime talk series "The Meredith Vieira Show" says there are many reasons, in particular the theme of "there's no place like home."
Vieira's explanation is all the more fitting when you consider she is sitting on a comfortable armchair that is part of the stage set of her new show, a set created to replicate her real, at-home living room.
"I want to do something that is authentic to me," Vieira says of the show which debuts September 8 on NBC. Something "that combines all the different skills that I've acquired, and I wanted to do it in my house. My husband said, 'No, you're not going to do it in the house!' So they created my family room essentially."
Adding authenticity to the surroundings is the armchair upon which Vieira is perched. Pointing to tell-tale threadbare patches and cat and dog scratch-marks common to a well-loved household fixture, she proudly reveals the chair was transferred to the soundstage in Rockefeller Center from her real home in Westchester County, N.Y.
It was about a year after exiting her position as co-host of NBC's "Today" when Vieira, 60, realized she missed connecting with people and sharing their stories. So she began exploring ways in which to make a return to daytime television.
Having been a prominent presence in the television business since the mid-1980s, Vieira knows what works and what appeals on a personal level.
After stints reporting the news at affiliate stations in Chicago and New York, she signed on as anchor at CBS' "West 57th" newsmagazine program in 1985. From there Vieira went on to work at "60 Minutes" and "Turning Point," before becoming one of the original co-hosts of "The View" at ABC in 1997.
In 2002 she added game show host to her resume when she became the first host of the daytime version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Vieira continued in that position throughout her time as co-host of NBC's "Today" (2006-2011), before ultimately stepping aside in 2013.
"People desperately want to connect with people," Vieira said in a recent cover story for The Hollywood Reporter. "And when you're on daytime, it's a different thing. They see you as their friend or their mom or their grandmother. I missed that."
Debuting nationally on September 8, "The Meredith Vieira Show" will feature a varied format including interviews with everyday people and celebrity guests, "The List" (things on Vieira's mind such as news or popular culture happenings), games, the "Pick-Me-Up Truck" (which travels around the country and delivers help where needed), and "Stall Talk" (a tongue-in-cheek taped interview in which Vieira and a famous person will chat while sitting in adjoining bathroom stalls).
Helping Vieira out as her official announcer is close friend Jon Harris, along with musician Everett Bradley (percussionist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band), who will lead an impressive all-female live band, a first for television.
Above all else, though, Vieira assures there will be lots of stories.
"I've always loved sharing other people's stories. It's something about, again, connection, about talking to somebody. And it's always the people that you would least suspect," she says with a broad smile. "Everyday people have the most fascinating stories."
Take a sneak peek at "The Meredith Vieira Show" in the video above.