Kathie Lee Gifford to leave NBC’s ‘Today’ after 11 years

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Little more than a month after NBC and Megyn Kelly dramatically parted ways, another major shakeup was just announced for that network’s popular “Today” show, though this change appears to be occurring on good terms.

It was announced on Tuesday, both in a memo to staff and on the air to viewers, that longtime host Kathie Lee Gifford will be leaving “Today” after 11 years as host.

“Bittersweet” departure

Gifford informed her fans of her impending departure during the fourth hour of the show on Tuesday. “I have something to share with everybody, and it’s bittersweet as these things always are,” she said.

“It’s an exciting time for me, and I’m thrilled about all the projects that are coming up. But it’s also hard … because I love everybody here so much,” she continued.

“I’ve been in this business 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give, every day,” the 65-year-old Gifford said. “Four hours of live television every day, five days a week. We have fun and we laugh and we support one another and we know each other’s kids names and we know when someone’s having a colonoscopy. We know everything! We do life together.”

“She is a legend”

The news was announced to “Today” show staff earlier in the day with a memo from NBC News President Noah Oppenheim, who wrote, “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. 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.”

“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 [Kotb], 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.'”

Second Try

Gifford had previously planned to move on from “Today” in 2017, telling People, “You get to a point of your life where you run out of time to do what you want to do.” But in the chaotic wake of fellow host Matt Lauer’s departure over sexual harassment allegations, NBC persuaded her to stay a little longer.

“Some things were painful for us. And we had to adjust, and then they said, ‘If we accommodate your schedule, will you consider staying?’ I wasn’t looking to get out, but I needed the time,” Gifford said. “So when they accommodated the schedule, then there was no reason to leave. … There’s no better place in a 50-year career. It all worked out, so I’m staying.”

Final Date

Gifford will stay on with the “Today” show until April 7, 2019, which will officially mark 11 years with the program. It is unclear what sort of “other creative endeavors” Gifford has lined up to do next.

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Gifford’s replacement on “Today” has yet to be decided, although that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating. “Today” regular Jenna Bush Hager is a favorite for the spot.

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