A report is saying that Jenna Bush Hager is the frontrunner to replace Katie Lee Gifford on the “Today” show.
Gifford’s departure was announced this week.
“There’s still the fourth hour, but nothing has been determined about her replacement. She’s here until April anyway. But it’s looking like Jenna,” a source told People about Hager, who joined the show in September 2009. Hager is the daughter of former President George W. Bush.
“She’s in the mix because she is a favorite among viewers and staffers and she has already filled in for Kathie Lee every time she’s been away,” the source added.
“We adore you KLG. Thanks for your love, friendship and for your hilarity. You will be dearly missed,” Bush Hager, 37, tweeted after Gifford said she was leaving.
We adore you KLG. Thanks for your love, friendship and for your hilarity. You will be dearly missed. ❤️ https://t.co/8oUduJQEgl
— Jenna Bush Hager (@JennaBushHager) December 11, 2018
“Hoda will stay on,” the source said about Gifford’s co-host Hoda Kotb, adding, “People would freak out if she left the fourth hour, too.”
NBC News president Noah Oppenheim said Gifford, 65, will stay until April 2019.
“Kathie Lee is generously staying with us through the show’s next anniversary on 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.
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 also issued a statement about her departure.
“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 to a generate a significant amount of revenue for NBC, making hundreds of millions in advertising dollars.
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.
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.