The Washington Post

Meredith Vieira’s ‘Today’ farewell: Breaking down that Journey number

Meredith Vieira, at the center of “Morning Show: The Musical!” (By Richard Drew/Associated Press)

If you watched the “Today” show’s extended goodbye to host Meredith Vieira this morning, then surely you witnessed what was the most memorable Vieira moment in the morning show’s history: an epic lip sync-athon to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Actually, you probably witnessed it more than once, since NBC replayed it roughly 77 times during its lengthy “Today” broadcast. Still, there was so much going on during the mega-musical number (video of which can be found after the jump) that even after multiple viewings, it was difficult to process it all.

Allow me to assist.

First Matt Lauer and Ann Curry kicked off the lip-syncing in a manner that set a new standard for heartfelt-yet-exceedingly-dorky Journey sing-alongs.

Curry then handed off to Abe Vigoda, who apparently is kept in the basement at Rockefeller Center in case he’s ever needed for spontaneous air guitaring. (Has anyone told him that Conan O’Brien left the network more than a year ago? Unclear.)

More, including a link to the video, after the jump.

After a brief swing through the control booth with Natalie Morales, Jenna Bush Hager guided — actually the better term here might be “flailed and tugged” — Vieira outside the studio. In case you missed it, Bush Hager was wearing both a headband and a wristband, because apparently when you lip-sync to early ’80s Journey, it’s important to dress like John McEnroe from that same time period.

Then it was outside with Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford on either side of Vieira. Now, at this juncture, it’s important to notice something: All the key people on “Today” — Lauer, Curry, Morales — have been given personalized shirts that say “Matt Hearts Meredith” or “Ann Hearts Meredith.” Not Kotb and Gifford — they are both wearing the same shirt, which says “Wine Lovers Heart Meredith.” Could NBC not spring for two individualized shirts for these women, being as how they host the last hour of the show? It’s as if some executive said, “Eh, just give the winos the same shirt. They’ll be too tipsy to notice.” For God’s sake, even Abe Vigoda got his own Vieira wear.

Anyway, Al Rokker grabbed Vieira next and took her on a sprint through Manhattan. Fortunately, the almost-former host got enough of a head’s up to put on some runner’s sandals. But still, on your last day at work, do you really want to go for for a fast-jog with a bunch of people wearing the same dorky outfit?

But then Jimmy Fallon appeared, air guitaring with an actual guitar, and suddenly, I was kind of into this, only because Fallon was the sole individual involved in this enterprise who is remotely convincing at fake-rocking.

Then it all came to a climactic conclusion with some in­cred­ibly elementary choreography that still was executed off-count. Seriously these moves were so simple they probably got rejected from “Just Dance Kids,” and yet the “Today” show company still couldn’t quite pull them off, even if their hearts — both the inside ones and the ones on all those T-shirts — were in the right place.

And there, again, was poor Abe Vigoda, supposedly acting as conductor but looking as confused as many “Today” show viewers undoubtedly felt. Out of joy and possibly pity, Vieira embraced him and began to dance. Then everyone sang “Don’t stop!” but mercifully, the number did.

And in the words of a drunken Rachel on “Friends,” “That, my friend, is what they call closure.”

Watch the full video here.

When she isn’t at a movie theater or writing about movies, Jen Chaney is ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.


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