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A Frightful Halloween on "Today"

10/31/2006 3:00 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

The annual Halloween extravaganza on the "Today" show took a rather ghoulish turn on Tuesday morning, when Meredith Vieira's first big entrance as a "Today" co-host was conspicuously unseen.

After Ann Curry and Natalie Morales sauntered somewhat awkwardly onto the stage as Cher and Madonna, respectively (the theme: divas), the big reveal -- Vieira coming out Bette Midler-style as a mermaid in a clamshell -- fell flat, and viewers were treated to the truly horrifying sight of a stagehand's denim-ed bottom, and several seconds of confused fans in Rockefeller Plaza. (The footage, oddly reminiscent of the scene from that Disney mermaid movie where Ariel doesn't appear, got cut out in the later feed to the West Coast. )

Matt Lauer started things off somewhat more convincingly as Capt. Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean," and Al Roker was nearly unrecognizable as a "Pirates" sidekick.

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