TV host back on the morning shift

Kathie Lee Gifford is back in the ayem TV biz, though her wakeup call isn’t quite as early as it was in the “Live with Regis & Kathie Lee” days.

Gifford has signed on as co-host of the fourth hour of NBC’s “Today,” an extension of the peacock’s mega-bucks morning franchise launched in September. As of April 7, Gifford will co-host alongside Hoda Kotb, who has been anchoring the fourth hour with “Today” vet Ann Curry.

Curry will continue to serve as news anchor for the mothership 7-9 a.m. broadcast, and as co-anchor with Al Roker and Natalie Morales of the 9 a.m. “Today” hour.

Gifford co-hosted the syndie hit “Regis and Kathie Lee” from its inception on Gotham’s WABC-TV in 1989 through 2000. Since then, she’s done Rialto turns in musicals “Putting it Together” and “Annie,” and she penned two three musicals of her own that have had regional productions: “Saving Aimee,” “Under the Bridge” and “Hats! The Musical.”

In confirming the long-rumored hire, “Today” exec producer Jim Bell called Gifford “a morning television icon and (someone who) is on a short list of personalities known by her first name alone.”

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