Hillshire Brands' Harris to shift careers, join 'Meredith Vieira Show' as announcer

Hillshire Brands communications leader Jon Harris will join The Meredith Vieira Show as its announcer when it debuts in national syndication in September.

NEW YORK: Hillshire Brands communications leader Jon Harris will join The Meredith Vieira Show as its announcer when it debuts in national syndication in September.

Harris will officially leave the CCO role at Hillshire at the end of June. He will be replaced by chief HR officer Mary Oleksiuk, who will continue to run HR along with comms. She will still report to Sean Connolly, president and CEO of Hillshire. 

"[The announcer role] is a perfect opportunity for [Harris]; he will be great at it," said Mike Cummins, Hillshire’s director of corporate communications.

Harris is known in the communications industry as CCO at Hillshire Brands, but he has also dabbled in entertainment, appearing on Today, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Steve Harvey, and Rachel Ray, as well as the reality show Giuliana and Bill, according to NBCUniversal.

The company’s statement described him as Vieira’s "close friend for nearly 20 years."

Harris met Vieira at a charity event, where she was a celebrity waitress. He, working for PepsiCo at the time, was at a company table.

"By the end of the evening," Vieira told PRWeek in 2011, "I was sitting next to him having a glass of wine."

Vieira has worked with Harris many times. When she was at The View and he was VP of business development and global communications at Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., they teamed up to develop and promote a childhood obesity program with a trainer.

"He was extremely concerned about doing this right, about the children and their health," she said. "He's so much more than his job. Once you have him in your life, you have a friend that will always be there."

After serving as SVP of global communications at Sara Lee from 2005 to 2012, Harris was named CCO of Hillshire Brands after Sara Lee split into two separate entities that year. He previously served as VP of business development and global communications at Bally Total Fitness Holding Corp., VP of communications at OurHouse, and senior manager of global public affairs at PepsiCo.

Vieira’s show will premiere on September 8 on syndication; it has been sold to local stations in 98% of the country, according to a statement from NBCUniversal.

The company also named Geoff Rosen and Matthew Strauss as co-executive producers of the show on Monday, and musician Everett Bradley of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Brand was appointed the program’s band leader.

This story was updated on May 5 with more information about the work Harris and Vieira have done together. It was also updated on May 6 with additional information about his replacement at Hillshire Brands. 

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