It’s the end of an (early-morning) era.
On Tuesday morning’s episode of Today, longtime co-host Kathie Lee Gifford announced that she’ll be departing the talk show on what will be her 11th-year anniversary: April 7, 2019.
She and her co-host, Hoda Kotb, have helmed the final hour of the broadcast together since 2008 — more than a decade.
“Everything good that has happened in my life has happened because you came,” an emotional Kotb said to Gifford. “Our show is about catching each other when you fall down, that’s it.”
“Which is daily for us,” said Gifford.
“I cannot believe that we’re on TV and this is happening,” Kotb said.
According to Gifford, she wants to spend more time on other (as yet unnamed) media projects.
Gifford and Kotb have been a hit from the start, drawing viewers in with their funny conversations and banter. The pair, now close friends, quickly became a morning favourite with their gentle mocking and sarcasm of one another.
Their mutual wine-sipping during the segment also became one of the duo’s fan-favourite markers.
“We started out as a ‘nothingburger’… we’re going to be friends for the rest of our lives. I’m grateful to God for you,” Gifford said to Kotb. “I know somebody wonderful will be sitting in this seat afterwards.”
As of this writing, NBC hasn’t revealed who will be taking Gifford’s seat. Network news chief Noah Oppenheim released a memo to media about Gifford’s departure. The full text is below.
It is with mixed emotions that I share the news Kathie Lee Gifford has decided it’s time to leave TODAY.
As we all know, Kathie Lee’s plate has been overflowing lately with film, music and book projects, and after giving us eleven extraordinary years, she’s decided to focus her attention full-time on those other creative endeavors.
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. 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.
Jimmy Fallon summed it up best when he channelled Kenny Rogers on the tenth anniversary show earlier this year: Through the years, Kathie Lee has never let us down, she’s turned our lives around and she’s brought some of the sweetest days we’ve found…
As Kathie Lee told me today: “In 2008, I joined the TODAY Show family intending to spend one year. But something unexpected happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful, talented, extraordinary Egyptian goddess named Hoda, and an amazing group of individuals who work tirelessly and joyfully at their jobs, many of them starting at midnight, creating an unprecedented four hours of live television. I stayed year after year making a million memories with people I will never forget. I leave TODAY with a grateful heart but I’m truly excited for this new creative season in my life. Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made the years fly by.”
Kathie Lee is generously staying with us through the show’s next anniversary, April 7, 2019. We will have much more to share before then about our plans for that hour, which will, of course, continue to include Hoda.
Please join me in congratulating Kathie Lee on a dazzling run at TODAY. We look forward to celebrating her in the months to come.