Meredith Vieira says goodbye to "Today" show

Meredith Vieira, center, co-host of the NBC "Today" television program, participates in a music video segment during her final show, in New York, Wednesday, June 8, 2011. Joining Vieira are her successor Ann Curry, left, Jimmy Fallon, background center, and the shows co-host Matt Lauer, right. The popular "Today" co-anchor ended her five-year run on Wednesday, telling viewers her decision to go is "right, but it's hard."
AP Photo/Richard Drew
"Today" show co-host Meredith Vieira, center, participates in a music video segment during her final show, in New York, June 8, 2011.
AP

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - After five years on NBC's "Today" show, co-host Meredith Vieira is saying goodbye.

The popular morning show co-host, 57, told viewers on Wednesday her decision to go is "right, but it's hard." She has explained she wants to spend more time with her family.

Pictures: Meredith Vieira

Co-host Matt Lauer called Vieira's final day "a very bittersweet Wednesday morning."

In between news about the nation's severe-heat advisories and scandal-ridden Congressman Anthony Weiner's Twitter woes, the broadcast offered tributes and highlight reels honoring Vieira's "Today" tenure.

In one tribute clip, Jack Black sang "Candle in the Wind" to the exiting co-host, according to People magazine, and Jay Leno congratulated her on being able to leave NBC.

Vieira wiped her eyes as she was serenaded by Carole King with a Vieira favorite, "You've Got a Friend." Then, spontaneously, she led the "Today" gang across the studio to gather around King at the piano.

Later, she was surprised with a starring role in a live music video to the tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."

Led by various members of the "Today" company, Vieira scampered and danced from the studio through the warrens of the "Today" control room and offices, then up the stairs and outside to Rockefeller Plaza where she was cheered by throngs of fans.

The number ended in a cast-of-hundreds, Hollywood-worthy production number including Jimmy Fallon miming the song's soaring guitar licks.

A few minutes later, it was time to go.

"I adore you," Lauer told Vieira, adding that he marvels "that for someone who's got talent as large as yours, how small your ego is. You've taught us all how to be great teammates."

Weather anchor Al Roker called her tenure "five of the greatest years of our lives."

"Today" show veteran Ann Curry, who has been the show's news anchor since 1997, will take over for Vieira as co-host.