Gifford wants to spend more time focused on a variety of media projects, and said during Monday’s broadcast that her decision was “bittersweet, as these things are.” She expects to stay with the program through April 7th of next year – her 11th anniversary co-hosting the hour with Hoda Kotb.
“It’s an exciting time for me, and I’m thrilled about all the projects that are coming up, but it’s also hard,” Gifford said on “Today” this morning.
The announcement puts another hour of “Today” in transition. NBC News recently retooled the third hour of “Today” after canceling Megyn Kelly’s tenure on the program. Many of the show’s anchors and personalities are already turning up to host at 9 a.m., including Craig Melvin, Jenna Bush Hager, Al Roker, Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer.
Gifford’s departure will mark the end of a pairing that has blossomed into a morning favorite. When Gifford and Kotb were first matched together in 2008, it drew attention. Gifford, known for her many years hosting ABC’s syndicated “Live” with Regis Philbin, would often poke fun at her co-host, a veteran of NBC News’ “Dateline.” “Saturday Night Live” spoofed the show. But something happened: Kotb and Gifford’s banter and rambling conversation drew fans. NBC began to offer repeats of the show to local stations to run overnight, and Gifford and Kotb became cult favorites.
Their show is the loosest hour in NBC’s “Today” lineup. There are no weather segments, no newsreader. But the hosts drink wine (Gifford’s product) on set and talk freely throughout the program.
NBC News offered no word on who might replace Gifford or if the fourth hour would be changed after her departure. Kotb took up new duties during the first two hours of “Today” earlier this year, joining Savannah Guthrie as a co-anchor of the show’s flagship broadcast after Matt Lauer was ousted in late 2017. She also hosts a program on Sirius XM and her duties have grown exponentially in recent months.
“When we first launched this incredible hour, no one could have predicted the lightning (or rather, wine) in a bottle that is Hoda & Kathie Lee,” said Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News, in a statement. ” Whether in studio or on one of their many road trips, they have delighted our audience with their distinct brand of fun, friendship and adventure. During that time, Kathie Lee has cemented her status as one of the most enduring and endearing talents in morning television. In short – she is a legend.”
NBC News launched a fourth hour of “Today” at 10 a.m. by canceling the soap opera “Passions” in the fall of 2007, giving the network a new took to vie for viewers opposite “The View” on ABC. Natalie Morales, Ann Curry and Kotb were the hour’s original hosts before Gifford joined the show in 2008.