Fans of NBC’s Today were in for a bit of a shock on Tuesday when Kathie Lee Gifford announced she would be stepping down from her hosting duties on the morning news program after nearly 11 years. The bubbly TV personality coanchored the show’s fourth hour alongside Hoda Kotb. She’ll officially end her run in April of 2019.
It’s hard to imagine our days starting without Gifford partaking in pastimes like Winesday Wednesday or introducing guests in unison with her trusty tablemate, Kotb (also known as “Hoda woman,” as Gifford so lovingly refers to her). Gifford is as integral to some viewers’ morning rituals as a double latte or brushing their teeth.
“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’ president, Noah Oppenheim, said in a statement following news of Gifford’s impending departure.
So, who’s legendary enough to step into Gifford’s stilettos? There are at least seven candidates with star quality to spare who would make excellent replacements for the beloved host.
Jenna Bush Hager
Already a member of the Today family, Hager is reportedly next in line to fill Gifford’s open fourth-hour spot. The former teacher and first daughter has proven herself to be a competent correspondent over the years and has natural chemistry with Kotb already. Relatable and charming, Hager isn’t afraid to keep it real about her personal life. She’s also game in the whole making-fun-of-herself department.
A friend and loyal fan of Today, pop sensation Trainor literally penned an original theme song about Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb in honor of their 10-year anniversary hosting together. She debuted the catchy tune last April, and we still can’t get it out of our heads. Perhaps she could write herself into an updated version if she happens to land the coveted gig. Sure, 24-year-old Trainor might seem a tad young for the job, but her presence could be a welcome breath of fresh air.
Chrissy Teigen is live-TV gold. The outspoken model, host, cookbook author and prolific tweeter is a natural fit when it comes to taking on the job of waking up America every day. She’s not afraid to tell it like it is and candidly open up about her private life, and you never know what hilariously inappropriate anecdote will pop out of her mouth (we’re willing to find out if that trait is a pro or a con). Bonus points for the possibility of a wacky recurring cooking segment. Make this happen, execs!
Jennifer Hudson has quickly become one of our favorite coaches on The Voice. Her endearing humor and sweet-natured, sympathetic attitude are qualities that translate into morning television greatness. We can just picture her and Kotb now, singing and laughing the hour away.
Drew & Jonathan Scott
HGTV’s Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott are frequent Today guests and have helped cohost in the past. Their pleasant and light-hearted rapport is a delight to behold, and they’re super-handy to boot! Bring on the DIY crafting how-to sessions.
A Real Housewife
A world where Bethenny Frankel, Lisa Rinna or NeNe Leakes join Kotb for some a.m. chitchat? It’s not an impossible future. They’re quick-witted, pretty much never hold back and aren’t afraid to ask the tough questions. What a way to spice up the morning show scene. Just make sure the wine stays in the glass and not on someone’s face.
Admittedly, this one is probably never going to happen. Hey — we can dream, right?