Kathie Lee Gifford Leaving The ‘Today’ Show After 11 Years
On Tuesday, Kathie Lee Gifford, who has hosted NBC’s Today show for the last decade, tearfully announced to the show’s viewers that she would be leaving the morning show in April 2019.
“I have something to share with everybody,” Gifford said at the start of Tuesday’s show. “It’s bittersweet, as these things always are. But, I’ve been here almost 11 years. Thought I would stay one year. Something happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess (Hoda Kotb).”
“And now, when it’s our 11th anniversary, I’m going to 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.”
Earlier that day, NBC news president Noah Oppenheim, broke the news to staff in a memo. “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,” Oppenheim wrote in the memo.
According to Oppenheim, Gifford has chosen to stay on until April to mark her 11th anniversary of hosting the show with Kotb. He also said that succession plans will be announced before Gifford’s departure and that the show will continue to include Kotb.
The news of Gifford’s departure came as a shock to the Today show team. “She always signed one-year contracts and she would always say, ‘This is my last year,’ but nobody ever thought she was actually going to leave,” a source told People. “Last year, they asked her to please stay [after Matt Lauer was fired] because there were so many changes going on, so she did. Now that she’s really leaving, it’s just really sad.”
“People are so sad she is leaving. People were sobbing,” the People source continued. “People are so happy for her and she will, of course, stick around. She’ll be back here and there for sure. Everybody really loves working with her, so it’s sad for her to go. People are going to genuinely miss her. They know how excited she is about her movies and music, but selfishly people love her. She’s a legend.”
From 1985 to 2000, Gifford co-hosted Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee and in 2008 she began hosting alongside Kotb on the 10 a.m. hour of Today. The show’s hour is known for comical conversations, celebrity guests and free-flowing wine. Over the past several decades of being in the industry, Gifford has become beloved by millions of viewers.
The news of Giffords departure is the most recent change of the network’s lineup, as Kotb just became a permanent anchor of the first two hours of Today in January after NBC fired Matt Lauer over a sexual misconduct accusation. In October, NBC also canceled Megyn Kelly Today.