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SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER

When Meredith Vieira felt a moment of apprehension recently about her move to Today, her 17-year-old son reminded her about how she had always preached about being open to the possibilities change can bring.

Ben has an ulterior motive - he wants to work at an Olympics for NBC - but Vieira took the reminder to heart.

"It might end up being a mistake, but you can't run and hide," she said. "You have to take some chances."

First things first: Vieira has been feted this week by her colleagues on The View, where her last day is today. After nine years as the gabfest's traffic cop, she'll be replaced by Rosie O'Donnell in September. That month, Vieira takes the chair beside Matt Lauer on Today.

Vieira is struggling to hold it together emotionally. Tuesday's show, presented with pictorial evidence of how her three children have grown during her time on the show, was tough.

A journalist when she accepted Barbara Walters' offer to join the new daytime show a decade ago, Vieira said she was terrified at the idea of unleashing her personality and opinions. It turned out to be fun and confidence-building, she said.

"We took this from nowhere to somewhere, and that's a great ride to have been part of," she said.

As the show's moderator, her role was to keep the discussion moving.

"That isn't an easy thing to do with these strong-minded women," she said. "Some days I was successful, and many days I wasn't. If I was looking at this like a situation comedy, I would say I was the Seinfeld of Seinfeld, with all the nuts around me. They found out I was pretty crazy, too."

Any disagreements or hard feelings among the women of The View have always been talked out offstage "because it's bad if stuff bleeds onto the air," she said.

Vieira is still trying to work out a schedule where she can continue as host of the syndicated game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, she said.

Her experience there, filling the chair in which Regis Philbin became a folk hero, is something she mentions when friends fearfully bring up the idea of replacing Katie Couric.

"I can't live my life that way," she said. "I wouldn't have taken the Millionaire show. Who wanted to be the one who followed Regis? I'll do the best I can do (as Couric's successor). I'm going on this ride, and I hope I don't vomit."

AT A GLANCE

Meredith Vieira's last show as co-host of The View is today at 11 a.m. on WFTS-Ch. 28.

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