They used to say James Brown was the hardest working man in show business. Matt Lauer made a run at that title this week. Now he'll get a break, as it was announced Friday morning that his former Today co-host, Meredith Vieira, will replace the Bob Costas replacement on Friday night's Olympic coverage.
It comes not a moment too soon. Thanks to his double-duty at Today and filling in for Bob Costas on NBC's primetime Olympic telecast, Lauer was on television for nearly 30 of the past 61 hours (through 9 a.m. on Friday). That included his usual stint on Today, NBC's primetime coverage, NBC's late-night coverage and the taped replay of primetime that airs in the middle of the night.
Lauer's east-coast television appearances, since Tuesday.
7 a.m. to 9 a.m. – Today
8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. — Olympic primetime coverage
12:05 a.m. to 1:05 a.m. — Late-night Olympic coverage
1:05 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. — Olympic primetime replay
That's a fraction under 10 hours per day on your local NBC affiliate.
Richard Sandomir of The New York Times described Lauer's typical day.
"He does early-morning location shooting for Today, and heads to the morning show's set for the live program from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sochi time. Then he eats, sleeps a few hours, and gets to the prime-time studio around 11 p.m. He is there for another three or four hours, then sleeps a little while before restarting his morning routine."
In that same article, Sandomir speculated that Lauer could be pulled from primetime in order to rest. He floated Al Michaels or Dan Patrick as replacements. Vieira, though, makes sense. She's an old pro in front of the camera, proved herself capable of the required Olympic enthusiasm during her time calling the Opening and Closing Ceremony and, as a bonus, she'll be the first woman to ever host American Olympic coverage.
How will she prepare? "I'm at the bar now, so I'll probably pass out in a little," Vieira joked while speaking with Lauer on the phone during Friday's Today. (It was 5:20 p.m. in Sochi.)
Bob Costas is still listed as day-to-day.