Instead of a tearful goodbye, Meredith Vieira’s final appearance on The View Friday was full of raunchy humor and quirky tributes.
With Barbara Walters acting as emcee, Vieira was roasted by her cohosts and a string of guests, including Kesley Grammer and Joan Rivers.
Walters began the ceremony, reminding Vieira of the early-morning hours at her new job on the Today show. Noting that Vieira is an emotional person who cries easily, Walters said, “I can tell you from personal experience that once that alarm clock goes off at 4 in the morning, you’ll really have something to cry about.”
Grammer was up next, where he offered a synopsis of Vieira’s childhood while plugging his new film, X-Men: The Last Stand.
Rivers followed with her usual acerbic humor. “They said I should only say nice things about you, so I’m going to be very brief,” Rivers said.
Vieira’s final episode came at the end of an emotional week during which her tenure on the show, which began at its inception in 1997, was celebrated by cohosts Walters, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Star Jones Reynolds.
Earlier this week, she was presented with a pictorial montage that illustrated how much her children, Lily, 13, Gabe, 14 and Ben, 17, have grown since she started the show.
Though making the decision to leave The View and take over Katie Couric’s spot on the Today show was difficult, Vieira told the Associated Press that she doesn’t regret her choice. “It might end up being a mistake, but you can’t run and hide,” she said. “You have to take some chances.”
As for comparisons to Couric, Vieira, 52, told PEOPLE: “I can’t even go there. They said, ‘All we want from 7 to 9 a.m. is for you to be you.’ I said, ‘I guess I can do that, I guess I can pull that off.'”
Vieira announced her departure in April, saying, “If you’re going to grow, you have to change. I’m very honored that NBC has asked me to cohost the Today show.” (Couric left Today to anchor the CBS News.)
When Vieira announced her plans to leave, Walters described their time together on The View as “the most wonderful nine years,” and cohost Behar said, “I’m miserable that you are leaving.”
For Vieira, the move marks a return to a newsier program – a format she’ll likely be comfortable with since she spent nearly 20 years working in news before joining The View.
Vieira, who also hosts the syndicated game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, said she is trying to work out a schedule that will allow her to remain with that show.
Rosie O’Donnell has been selected to take over Vieira s spot on The View. She is scheduled to start in September.