Why is Kathie Lee Gifford leaving The Today Show?

Kathie Lee with Hoda Kotb during the announcement
Kathie Lee Gifford announces her departure on the Today show. Pic credit: NBC

Kathie Lee Gifford made a stunning announcement on the Today show yesterday morning — that she will be exiting the program after 11 years as co-host.

Viewers were stunned to learn that Kathie Lee will no longer be sitting next to Hoda Kotb on their morning television screens come next April, but why is she leaving?

Kathie Lee Gifford joined the NBC show back in 2008. Previously she had been the co-host with Regis Philbin on Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee but exited that show in 2000. In 2005, she became a special correspondent on syndicated entertainment show The Insider.

When she moved to Today, she was initially met with criticism because the program competes with her previous show, “Live with…”, currently hosted by Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest. However, once she was settled the ratings climbed.

Why is Kathie Lee leaving Today?

During her tear-filled departure announcement, Kathie Lee Gifford revealed that she was leaving The Today Show to pursue other career opportunities. She said: “It’s an exciting time for me and I’m thrilled about all the projects that are coming up, but it’s also hard.”

Before the announcement was made, NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim told staff Gifford’s diary was “overflowing” with other projects.

He wrote in an internal memo: “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.”

Those endeavors include an 11-minute short film, The God Who Sees, which she is set to start making soon in Israel and will be her directorial debut. It is based on a song she wrote, which is set to come out in April.

She also has another upcoming film, Love Me to Death (also titled Then Came You), which she wrote, produced and starred in alongside Craig Ferguson.

After announcing her departure from Today yesterday, Gifford revealed plans to make a series of four additional films with the same production company behind that film, Whiskey and Wine Ltd.

Meanwhile, this Friday, December 14, sees the premiere of Hallmark movie A Godwink Christmas, which Kathie Lee executive produced and also stars in as the central character Aunt Jane.

Following her departure announcement, she also hinted at having projects lined up with Roma Downey and Dolly Parton. Kathie Lee is known to have a passion for music, after famously being the singer on Name That Tune back in the 1970s. Could a musical be something she could be involved with in the future?

When will Kathie Lee leave The Today Show?

There are still a few months of Kathie Lee Gifford at the table with Hoda Kotb before her exit from The Today Show. It was revealed yesterday that her last episode will air on April 7, 2019. Her replacement has not yet been confirmed.

The Today Show airs mornings on NBC.

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