Longtime television personality Kathie Lee Gifford announced she would leave NBC’s “Today” show. She has been serving as the host for the show’s ending hour for more than a decade.
“Kathie Lee is generously staying with us through the show’s next anniversary, April 7, 2019. We will have much more to share before then about our plans for that hour, which will, of course, continue to include Hoda,” NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told staffers, according to reports on Dec. 11.
Gifford’s departure comes about a year after longtime “Today” host Matt Lauer stepped down following allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment. Megyn Kelly also departed the show earlier this year.
Oppenheim said he has “mixed emotions” about Gifford’s departure. “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 said, according to Fox News.
“When we first launched this incredible hour, no one could have predicted the lightning (or rather, wine) in a bottle that is Hoda & Kathie Lee. Whether in studio or on one of their many road trips, they have delighted our audience with their distinct brand of fun, friendship and adventure,” he added. “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.”
Gifford joined “Today,” the network’s flagship news program, 11 years ago along with host Hoda Kotb.
“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, 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,” Gifford said Dec. 11.
She added: “I stayed year after year making a million memories with people I will never forget. I leave ‘Today’ with a grateful heart but I’m truly excited for this new creative season in my life. Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made the years fly by.”
The morning-long “Today” show is known as a revenue generator for NBC, making hundreds of millions in advertising dollars.
Megyn Kelly Still Working Out Terms
Regarding Kelly’s departure, TMZ-like news website The Blast reported that she’s still in talks with NBC for the freedom to start working again as soon as possible.
Kelly left the show following a Halloween episode of “Today” when she questioned dressing up in blackface, triggering a widespread social media campaign against her to get her fired.
The report said she could walk away with $37 million in bonuses and her original salary.
“But what is racist? Because you do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween, or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween. Back when I was a kid that was OK, as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character,” she said.