Which Late Night Host First Convinced Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee To Drink On-Air at ‘Today’?

By Alex Weprin Comment

The hosts of the fourth hour of NBC’s “Today” Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford get profiled in people magazine this week.

Getting right to the point, People promptly asked about their drinking habits, and how the whole thing got started:

Whose idea was it to booze it up on air?

Kathie Lee: That was Chelsea Handler. She had a book out about vodka.

Hoda: We wanted her to feel at home.

Kathie Lee: Being the good hosts that we are, we had cocktails ready.

Hoda: Vodka cocktails.

Kathie Lee: Lots of ‘em! Now the drinking has gotten completely out of hand. Guests come wanting a drink.

Also revealed in the interview: Kotb’s role model (who also happens to work on “Today”) and the unusual way in which she met her boyfriend:

Hoda, did you worry about your reputation for covering hard news?

Hoda: Yes. I spent my whole career covering news, and now I’m doing this laughing and scratching business? But Meredith Vieira has done both Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and 60 Minutes. Don’t tell her she’s my role model. She’ll be like, “You drink all day! That’s not what I do!”

Hoda has a new man…

Kathie Lee: In a weird way, I hooked her up. I told her to write a book.

Hoda: So I go to my first book signing, and these two girls came up and gave me a piece of paper: 10 reasons you should date our dad. He climed Mount Kilimanjaro. He’s a lawyer. He didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t even know me. They called him, and he came down and asked me out that day. Now I’m dating their dad! [Kotb, who got divorced in “08, has only publicly revealed his first name: Jay.]

Related: See why Kotb and Gifford are jealous of Ann Curry, here.