Kathie Lee Gifford made a major announcement to kick off Tuesday’s fourth hour of Today.
“I have something to share with everybody,” Gifford began. “It’s bittersweet as these things always are. But, I have been here almost 11 years, thought I would stay one year. Something happened along the way, fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess [co-host Hoda Kotb]. And now when it’s our 11th anniversary, I will be leaving the Today show.”
Gifford continued, “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 the reason I stayed longer than a year is because I love everybody here so much.”
Both Gifford and a statement from NBC News President Noah Oppenheim cite other projects as a main reason for her departure. According to Deadline, Gifford will star alongside Craig Ferguson in an upcoming movie that she wrote.
She will stay seated next to co-host Hoda Kotb through the show’s 11th anniversary special on April 7, 2019. And judging by the way tears were flowing from pretty much everyone on set Tuesday, they’re probably going to need more tissues.
“The minute you stepped into my life with both feet, everything changed,” Kotb said, before getting choked up. “You chose me, and that’s how it started. And so I was thinking about, like, everything good in my life has happened since you came.”
Kotb credited Gifford with more than just her career success, saying she wouldn’t have met her partner, Joel Schiffman, or have her daughter, Haley, if it wasn’t for Gifford. “How does one person come into your life and change it like that?” Kotb added.
As far as who might occupy the chair next to Kotb come April, Gifford had thoughts (Page Six reports that Jenna Bush Hager will be tapped as Gifford’s replacement).
“I know somebody wonderful will be sitting in this seat afterward. I have my idea of who might be absolutely wonderful, but there is a great pool of talent and beauty and heart right around here, right within our own family,” Gifford said. “And if they come from outside the family, they will soon become family because you all treat everybody that way.”
Watch the full segment here:
Today airs weekdays at 7 a.m. on NBC.
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