FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 14th, 2014
TRANSCRIPT – CONFERENCE CALL WITH NBC PRIMETIME HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA & NBC OLYMPICS EXECUTIVE PRODUCER JIM BELL
Greg Hughes: Okay, thanks everybody for joining us today. We are here with Jim Bell, our Executive Producer, whom all of you know, and Meredith Vieira. We will start in just a second. Before we do, the transcript from this will be available within two hours at nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com and obviously reach out to our NBC Sports Group communications staff for any other details or information.
We are going to start with some opening remarks from Jim Bell and then we will go to your questions. Jim.
Jim Bell: I will be brief. Thanks everybody for joining us. As I said, when we had to go to Matt, I felt a little bit like Chuck Daly on the ’92 Olympics Dream Team, substituting one hall of famer for another, and it’s great to have such a deep bench because Matt was a real trooper to come in and put in three pretty tough, grueling days. Need to give him a little rest and look what I found. I got Meredith. So we are really happy to have her, know she’s going to be great tonight, and with that, I will turn it over to the moderator.
Jim has there been any thought to shutting Bob down for the rest of the Olympics?
Jim Bell: No, not yet. I think he has shown some improvement of late and it’s our hope that he will be back, though he remains day to day. But I think that’s something that you know if we start getting into next week, maybe it does become a topic of conversation, but we are not there yet.
Meredith, what are you looking forward to the most about tonight or fearing?
Meredith Vieira: I am honored. I am just honored to fill in for Bob Costas. He is the best at this in the business, so it’s a thrill to be here and to keep the seat warm for him, and to stay out of the way so people can enjoy what they have tuned in to see tonight, which is another great day of Olympic coverage.
Jim how seriously considered were other candidates outside of Meredith to do primetime tonight?
Jim Bell: Well I think as I’ve said we’ve got no shortage of candidates. Many of them are already working for us on the air, and I think that was really one of the considerations about having Meredith who is here doing pieces and features, working with Today, working the Olympics, and came here to host the opening ceremony.
Her schedule was a little bit looser, so that’s why – and obviously, we have a relationship and have worked together and I know she will be great. So that made it a relatively easy decision and allowed us to keep the other parts of the operation running smoothly without needing to disrupt any other of the other day parts that we have or any shows that anyone else is doing.
Jim how – you know are you looking at Meredith for one day, two days, will Al be behind them, will Natalie be behind Al?
Jim Bell: I think it might be a two-day proposition here. We’re going to have to see how it goes. You know these things can tend to clear up quickly. This one has lingered a little bit so we will just have to see, but I think as we’ve done pretty calmly and rationally each day, we are just taking it one day at a time, and we will wake up tomorrow and see how Bob is doing and then make a decision then.
Meredith, how many days would you like to do this for? If Bob is not well enough, could you see yourself doing two, three, four days?
Meredith Vieira: As many days as they ask me to do it for sure, but I’m hoping that Bob is back tomorrow. There isn’t enough vodka.
I mean we’ve heard a little bit from Bob over the last few days – I assume you’ve talked to him more than we’ve heard from him. What is his state of mind? Everybody assumes he is very frustrated by this, and picturing him sitting in that dark room there in Russia – how has his demeanor been?
Jim Bell: You know he has actually been really great. He has been upbeat. He is frustrated of course to have this happen, but he is very appreciative of the support that he has been getting both internally and externally. And I think mostly just relieved that we’ve been able to just move forward here pretty seamlessly, but you know, we do miss him and we hope to get him back. I think his spirits relatively speaking and all things considered are pretty good.
Hey Jim, so I saw on Twitter today that when President Putin visited the U.S. Olympic House, Gary Zenkel was there, and I wanted to check in and see if there was any update on potentially interviewing Putin during the games.
Jim Bell: You know, I put my best booker on it in Zenkel and he better deliver the goods. I’m not sure. I think that we are still interested, but no real update on that.
Meredith, if in all of the wonderful things that you’ve been able to do in your career, where would you rank hosting the Olympics tonight?
Meredith Vieira: Wow, it is way up there. It is not something I ever anticipated having the opportunity to do and I am sorry that it has to happen this way, but incredibly proud to be a part of this and hope to do a good job for all of the folks here at NBC Sports. And especially for Mr. C himself, because this is his seat and my job here is just to fill it as best as I can.
This is for Jim. Have you guys decided on a night for the Tonya and Nancy feature next week yet?
Jim Bell: Not yet. If I could tell – I think I can share this – in all likelihood, it’s going to air on the last night of the Olympics. We’ve kind of been holding it back in our hip pocket in case of weather. Thus far, we haven’t had any weather delays. So I think if we are able to get through this weekend without any weather and without any major competition issues causing us programming void, we are going to be able to hold that in a place where we think is the ideal spot for it and that’s going to be on the final Sunday of the Olympics, the 23rd of February.
Greg Hughes: Okay, thank you very much for joining us today and the transcript of this will be available on the Pressbox site. Call us or email us with any follow up questions. Thank you.
Meredith Vieira: Thank you.