“Making Room” for Kathie Lee

By Gail Shister 

It’s official. Starting next Monday, Kathie Lee Gifford joins Hoda Kotb to anchor the fourth hour of the Today show. “I’m eight years older, ten pounds heavier and a half inch shorter, and just in time for HD television,” said Gifford on the increasingly expanding Today show couch. When Meredith Vieira asked what convinced her to return to morning TV, Gifford said, in a word, “Hoda.” The two had lunch at the Rainbow Room and immediately hit it off.

The fourth hour launched Sept. 10 with Kotb, Ann Curry and Natalie Morales as co-anchors. Matt Lauer sorted out the anchor details going forward, “Ann and Natalie are going to be spending more time with us on this show” (in fact, by 8am, Curry was off to join Sen. Barack Obama on the campaign trail, so Morales read the news update.) To Curry and Morales, Gifford added, “you guys must be relieved a little bit, too…so thank you for making room for me.”

The press release is after the jump…


Gifford Joins Hoda Kotb as Co-Host of the 10 a.m. Hour of America’s Favorite Morning Program

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.

Photos and an interview with Gifford are available on TODAYshow.com at: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/23871853. Additional photos will be available by contacting Megan Kopf, megan.kopf@nbcuni.com.

NBC News pioneered morning news programming when it launched “Today” more than 56 years ago, with Dave Garroway as host. The four-hour live broadcast provides the latest in domestic and international news, weather reports and interviews with newsmakers from the worlds of politics, business, media, entertainment and sports. After more than 48 years of the standard two-hour format, the third hour of “Today” was launched in October of 2000. With the continued success of the third hour, a fourth hour was launched in September of 2007 making “Today” the only four hour national morning show broadcast. The program is unparalleled in its ratings dominance in the morning news arena, serving as America’s overwhelming favorite for more than twelve consecutive years.