NEW YORK – With a roast, a champagne toast and a goodbye grope from Joy Behar, "The View" said goodbye Friday to Meredith Vieira, who's leaving to take Katie Couric's job at the "Today" show.
"I do not want to get emotional," said Vieira, who starts "Today" in September. "I simply want to say thanks. I love you all."
The Rhode Island native smiled broadly as Michael Feinstein sang "Rhode Island is Famous For You."
Barbara Walters, who created the daytime talk show nine years ago, said "The View" had succeeded in large part because of Vieira. The former "60 Minutes" newswoman usually played the moderator role, guiding discussion with her three co-hosts — four on the days Walters joined them.
"The 'Today' show is lucky to have you," said Walters, who spent 13 years on the NBC morning show. "We send you off with our arms outstretched. You are very, very dear to us."
For the most part, however, Vieira's last stand was muted and hankie-free. Mario Cantone, Joan Rivers and Gilbert Gottfried joined for a Friar's Club-style roast, and Vieira gave as good as she got.
"You guys put a show together that looks like it took the time that Bill takes to comb his hair," she said, as the camera panned to bald executive producer Bill Geddie.
The bawdy roast included a monologue of sex jokes from Cantone, a frequent guest on "The View," as Vieira's husband and three children looked on uncomfortably from the front row.
Leaving the estrogen-fest means no longer having to suffer through colleagues complaining of bad hair days, Rivers said.
"Matt Lauer will never say, `Does my tie make me look fat?"' she said.
Even "roastmaster" Walters got into the act: "We just hope that given your drinking habit, you'll be able to tell `Today' from tomorrow," she said.
Behar alluded to Vieira's replacement, Rosie O'Donnell, in giving Vieira an exaggerated kiss and grope goodbye. While Behar and Walters each spoke during the roast, the finale had surprisingly small roles for Star Jones Reynolds and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
With film clips that showed Vieira dancing with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and in a succession of Halloween costumes — a pirate, a witch, a space alien — it seemed evident how much "The View" and "Today" have in common. Couric's three-hour "Today" farewell showed footage of her "flying" in a Peter Pan costume.
As she held a glass of champagne, Vieira offered the show's send-off one final time: "Take some time to enjoy the view."