Bob Costas will miss his fourth consecutive night Friday as host of NBC's prime time Olympics show because of an ongoing eye infection, NBC announced. He will be replaced by Meredith Vieira, whom the network said will become the first solo female host for a prime time Olympics show. Matt Lauer had filled in for Costas the previous three nights.
Jim Bell, NBC's executive producer for the Olympics, said there is a good chance Vieira will end up hosting Saturday's show as well.
"I think it might be a two-day proposition here," Bell said on a conference call from Sochi Friday afternoon. "We'll have to see how it goes . . . This one has lingered a little bit."
Bell said Costas remains "day-to-day," but he said if the ailment drags into next week the network might consider shutting him down for the duration of the Games. "But we're not there yet,'' Bell said.
Vieira said she was "honored" to be filling in and would be ready to work "as many days as they ask me to do it, for sure. But I'm hoping Bob is back [Saturday] . . . This is his seat and my job is just to fill it as best as I can."
Bell said that despite the circumstances Costas has been relatively upbeat.
"He's actually been really great," Bell said. "He's frustrated, of course, to have this happen, but he's very appreciative of the support he's been getting both internally and externally."
Bell said the network still is hoping to arrange an on-air interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin during the Games, "but no real update on that."
Bell also said NBC's longform feature on the 20th anniversary of the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan saga likely will appear on the final day of the Games, Feb. 23, barring weather problems that affect programming over the next few days.