Kathie Lee Gifford On Leaving "Today" And What The Future Holds
After more than 25 years in morning television, Kathie Lee Gifford is about to embark on her most exhilarating journey yet. Although she signed off as a permanent co-host of NBC's “Today” in April, the three-time Emmy Award-winner has no plans of hitting the snooze button.
Instead, “it's freeing me up to be the busiest I've ever been in my life,” Gifford says from her waterfront home in Greenwich, Connecticut, during a recent phone interview.
“My husband has now passed, my parents have passed, my children are well on their way, established in their careers,” she says. “I've never been so free in my entire life as I am now.”
Gifford's plans involve a number of creative projects: Namely, a film shoot in Israel that marked her first time working as a director; a host of movies she'll star in; an off-Broadway production that may even reach stages in Paris and Montreal. In a series of forthcoming screenplays she's written, Gifford will star opposite longtime CBS late night host Craig Ferguson, whom she befriended in 2017 when he guest hosted on “Today” during the fourth hour.
“What I have cinematically with [Craig], I have never had in my life with anyone,” Gifford explains of the duo's shared on-screen chemistry.
“I would rather be, at a time when most people my age are getting in line with their senior discounts to go to the movies, the one making the movies for them to go see,” she adds with a note of humor in her voice.
What's more, she's also been hard at work writing music with Grammy Award-winning songwriter Brett James. They previously collaborated on “He Saw Jesus,” a 2017 tribute that Gifford sang in honor of her late husband, former New York Giant and NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford.
Gifford's jam-packed schedule is nothing unusual: She's been moving at light speed for the past 35 years. In 1985, she rose to household prominence alongside Regis Philbin, with whom she hosted “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” until 2000. In 2008, NBC named her co-anchor of the fourth hour of “Today” alongside Hoda Kotb. Gifford initially thought she'd stay for a year. Eleven years later, she finally took her bow.
“I will be closer to Hoda as the years go on,” Gifford says of the friendship she has forged with her longtime co-host. “I love [her] forever. She's one of the most extraordinary people I've ever met.”
In addition to her home outside of New York City, Gifford owns one in South Florida—a 11,400-square-foot beachfront house in Key Largo—and a property she recently purchased in Nashville, Tennessee; a city she calls “a little piece of heaven.”
No matter the address, Gifford is dedicated to her peaceful, quiet mornings at home that start with prayer. She will continue the ritual of waking up daily around 2 a.m., even without the commute to shoot “Today” at the Rockefeller Center studios in Manhattan. Above all, Gifford makes clear, even after “Today,” her tomorrows are going to be fuller than ever.
“I'm not saying goodbye,” she says. “I'm leaving a beautiful thing for a lifetime dream.”