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Wit, wisdom and warmth: Meredith Vieira uncensored

Balancing work & home

Getting ready for her new assignment on the Today show, Meredith Vieira shares her private side - from the crisis that made her marriage stronger to why her kids think she's a mess.

Many years later, after earning fame as a network news reporter for CBS, Vieira stood up for herself again. In 1989, as a coanchor of CBS's 60 Minutes, she negotiated a part-time schedule to accommodate her desire to spend time with her first baby — a schedule that did not sit well with the men who ran the show. When Vieira, pregnant with her second child, declined an assignment that required flying, her bosses lost patience. By 1991, she was out. "It was a tough time," she says, but she doesn't regret the outcome at all. "The prestige, the money, the whole thing," she says, "at the end of the day, that didn't matter."

Working less over the next few years allowed her the time with her kids that she coveted, and then The View came along. Nevertheless, as Barbara Walters says now, "The View was an unknown quantity, and so was Meredith," who would be trying her wings outside the news arena. But Vieira took to it straightaway; after 20 years of delivering just the facts, she suddenly had an opportunity to blab away about anything she liked. "I wouldn't shut up," she says of her earlier days. "I was so out there — anything that I thought came out of my mouth." Vieira may cringe at her earlier candor, but Walters has nothing but praise for her former cohost: "She's very dear to us. She lives in a beautiful home, but she is personally unmaterialistic. She cries if you kill a cockroach — we always tease her about that. We have mice here in the studio; I scream about them, and Meredith wants to take them home on a leash."

That beautiful home, in a suburb along the Hudson River, has undergone a major, year-long renovation lately. The overhaul did not make the house larger as much as rearrange rooms so that the kitchen and family room captured the best light. Previously, Vieira explains, the best-lit area had been the front of the house, near the driveway. "Richard and I would sit in our driveway on Sunday, reading the paper, basically in our underwear," she says. "People would walk past us with their dogs. It was very Beverly Hillbillies."

Thanks to her candid comments on The View and her husband's own memoir, millions of people are aware that Vieira's husband lives with multiple sclerosis (MS), diagnosed when he was 25, and has endured two recent bouts of colon cancer. Now Vieira is grateful for even the simplest pleasures. She is looking forward to a two-week break and will, she says, just putter around at home. As for hobbies, "I knit, but I've been knitting a scarf for a year," she says. "I can't stick with anything." She loves to hike and run, although it saddens her that her husband, whose MS has made walking more difficult and who is now legally blind, can no longer join her. "That was something we loved to do together," she says quietly. "I hate that we can't anymore."

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