Kathie Lee Gifford Joins Today's Fourth Hour
Still, NBC made Gifford's move to join its venerated Today show franchise official this morning, setting an April 7 debut for the former Regis and Kathie Lee co-host. This isn't the first time NBC's tried bringing an experienced showbiz woman to its morning franchise; Florence Henderson was a game co-host with Jodi Applegate when the Peacock Network first tried a Today show extension in 1999, the ill-fated Later Today.
But Gifford has an advantage, because Today's fourth hour is already up and running, even if critics haven't given it much love. (Locally, it airs at noon after WFLA-Ch. 8's 10 a.m. show Daytime and the station's 11 a.m. midday newscast. The standard airtime is 10 a.m.)
Her other advantage: She's undisputably the big name here. When she left Regis in 2000 after 15 years, rumors bubbled that the two couldn't get along, though they maintained a happy face in public. On Today's fourth hour, backed NBC News anchor/reporter Hoda Kotb, she'll be the Barbara Walters of the pack -- bringing a connection to daytime TV's older female viewers and loads of showbiz experience.
We'll see if she can rein in the big showbiz ego -- and get used to working on a show which is still considered an extension of NBC News.
Here's the announcement, aired on the Today show at 7:30 a.m. this morning:
Click below to read the press release:
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD JOINS THE FOURTH HOUR OF 'TODAY'
NEW YORK – March 31, 2008 - - Kathie Lee Gifford has been named co-host of the fourth hour NBC News' "Today." The announcement was made today by "Today" executive producer Jim Bell. Gifford will make her debut alongside Hoda Kotb at 10 a.m. on April 7, 2008.
"I am excited to welcome Kathie Lee to 'Today,'" said Bell. "She is a morning television icon and is on a short list of personalities known by her first name alone. We are looking forward to her signature warmth and sense of humor in the fourth hour. Her addition to the 'Today' family makes us stronger than ever, and she and Hoda will continue the 'Today' tradition of smart, topical and fun morning television."
"I am truly honored to join the 'Today' show family, many of whom have been friends and colleagues of mine for years," said Gifford. "And I'm especially looking forward to working with Hoda, a bright and beautiful woman I admire very much. Together I hope we will bring a fresh and fun perspective to the topics that affect all of our daily lives."
Launched in September 2007, the fourth hour of "Today" has continued with the program's rich history of setting the agenda for what Americans will be talking about in the office, at the watercooler and with friends all day. The hour is topical and timely, incorporating the news of the day with what people are buzzing about in a spontaneous, informative and dynamic manner.
Ann Curry will continue her role as news anchor of the 7-9 a.m. hours of "Today," as well as co-host, with Al Roker, of the 9 a.m. hour. Natalie Morales will join Curry and Roker as a third co-host at 9 a.m. Morales will also continue to serve as national correspondent for "Today" and all platforms of NBC News.
Gifford is best known as the former co-host of "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee," where in her fifteen years on the show, she received eleven Emmy nominations. Prior to "Live," Gifford was a correspondent for "Good Morning America," a position she held for three years. Gifford was also the first woman ever to guest host the "Late Show with David Letterman."
A playwright, producer, singer, songwriter and actress, Gifford has starred in numerous television programs and movies over the span of her 40-year career. In 1999, she started her own record label, On the Lamb Records. Gifford expanded her theatre resume in recent years by writing the musicals "Saving Aimee," "Under the Bridge," and "HATS! The Musical." She has also starred in several productions including Broadway's "Putting it Together" and "Annie" at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, in which she played Miss Hannigan.
Gifford devotes much of her time to humanitarian work, lending her support to several organizations that help abused, neglected, sick and poverty-stricken children. Among those charities are Childhelp, which Gifford serves as spokesperson, and the Association to Benefit Children (ABC), which spawned Cassidy's Place and Cody House in New York City, named after her two children.
Gifford received an honorary degree from Marymount University for her humanitarian work in labor relations, and she was honored with the National Conference of Christian and Jews Irvin Feld Humanitarian Award for her commitment to bettering the lives of others. Gifford also received Childhelp's Hearts of Compassion Award for her efforts on behalf of children.