Michael N. Todaro/Getty
May 09, 2011 07:50 AM

TV’s game of musical chairs took a not-unexpected twist on Monday with Meredith Vieira’s on-air announcement that, after a five-year run, she will be leaving the Today show next month. She will be succeeded by the show’s 14-year news anchor, Ann Curry.

“This is a difficult day for me. I’m trying hard to hold it together,” Vieira, 57, said as she teetered between laughter and tears. Her final day will be “in a few weeks,” said co-host Matt Lauer.

Vieira said she wants to spend more time with her husband and children.

The announcement comes after weeks of rumors, reports and just plain speculation – including buzz that Lauer’s former Today colleague, Katie Couric, would be resuming her morning perch with him.

POLL: Meredith Vieira: Who Should Replace Her on Today?

Instead, Couric, 54, announced to PEOPLE exclusively on April 26 that she is leaving CBS Evening News to explore new and, as yet, still unannounced broadcast formats.

In other news regarding NBC’s long-reigning top-rated morning program, Curry announced on the air Monday that Natalie Morales, a 9 a.m. anchor of Today, will assume Curry’s news chair. In addition, White House correspondent and MSNBC anchor Savannah Guthrie will serve as the 9 a.m. anchor, alongside Al Roker and Morales, also beginning in June.

On the show Monday, Vieira said she had reached her decision to leave after a lot of “personal reflection and private conversation with friends.”

In a Ladies’ Home Journal interview last fall, Vieira said, “I feel cheated sometimes” when it comes to the limitations her husband’s multiple sclerosis imposes upon their lives. Vieira and Emmy-winning TV journalist Richard M. Cohen, 63, have been married for nearly 25 years and have three children.

She also told the magazine that when it comes to her Today job: “I’ll know when it’s time to go, and I’m not afraid to go. If I were to leave the show at the end of next year because it’s time for me, I wouldn’t jump into another show. I would look forward to not working, to traveling with Richard and carving out time for us.”

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