The end of a Today era is coming and now, we have the official final date for when it’s happening. On Monday, Today confirmed that Kathie Lee Gifford’s last day will be April 5, ending a decade-plus run as a cohost alongside Hoda Kotb. Kotb, Gifford’s longtime friend as well as costar, then rolled out a montage of farewell messages from colleagues such as Jay Leno, Andy Cohen, Phil Donahue, Katie Couric and Gifford’s former cohost and coconspirator, Regis Philbin. To say it was emotional as heck would be putting it very mildly.
“First of all, I wanna say thank you for putting yourself out there,” Couric said in the clip. “For sharing yourself and your wisdom and your extraordinary spirit.”
Philbin raved, “Kathie Lee, you wanna know the best part of my life? It was 15 years I spent with you.”
Leno issued an invite to Gifford to join him to work on cars in his garage in her new downtime. He described Gifford in the video, “I think women like her because she’s one of the girls. And men like her because she can be a little outrageous and over the top in a funny, sexy way.”
Viewers have known since December that Gifford would be leaving Today to pursue new career goals. In the December announcement she revealed that she has her eye on the world of filmmaking, with an upcoming film Love Me to Death with Craig Ferguson. Gifford also hinted that she has a project in the works with — we cannot wait for this — Dolly Parton.
When Gifford bids farewell it will mark the end of more than a decade that she has been a cohost on the show.
Back in December, Gifford said on Today of her upcoming exit, “I have something to share with everybody, and it’s bittersweet, as these things always are. I’ve been here almost 11 years — thought I would stay here one year… And now, when it’s our 11th anniversary, I’m going to be leaving the Today show.”
Gifford added, “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 so much. I have been in this business 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give every day, four hours of live television five days a week.”
“Jenna joined Today nearly ten years ago and she quickly became a fixture in our family. Her compassion and curiosity come through in all of her stories, along with her Texas-sized sense of humor. Jenna instantly connects with everyone she meets, whether they are guests on our show or fans on the Plaza,” Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News, stated in a memo. “While it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to Kathie Lee, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to make some changes at 10 a.m. … The show is evolving, and we will have additional announcements to share with you in the coming months. In the meantime, please join me in wishing Jenna a big congratulations.”
We’re happy to see Hager named as replacement for Gifford, but this news is definitely bittersweet.