Kathie Lee Gifford is toasting her longtime Today show co-host, Hoda Kotb. Hoda, who has worked alongside Kathie Lee as co-host of the Today show’s 10 a.m. fourth hour since 2008, has been named as Matt Lauer’s permanent replacement on the NBC morning news program. While the move comes amid the sad news of Lauer’s sexual misconduct scandal, Kathie Lee Gifford has nothing but good things to say about her friend Hoda Kotb’s promotion to Savannah Guthrie’s co-anchor on the Today show.
“I feel happy for her because she is having the greatest year of her life, and if she’s happy, I’m happy for her,” Gifford told People. “What’s happening to her now is something she would have given anything for earlier on in her career.”
Although she has remained loyal to Matt Lauer in the weeks following his shocking firing from the Today show, Kathie Lee Gifford went on to say that nobody is more deserving of the high-profile promotion than Hoda Kotb is.
“She has a life to go home to that means more to her than anything she could have dreamed of,” Kathie Lee said.
“This comes to her at the perfect time… She knows what’s truly important.”
Matt Lauer was a beloved anchor on the Today show for 20 years, but Gifford also said that Hoda Kotb is one of the most beloved members of the NBC staff.
“Everybody universally adores her,” Gifford said. “She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She’s more loving and kind, so when these wonderful things started happening for this wonderful woman, we were thrilled for her.”
While Hoda Kotb will anchor the Today show alongside Savannah Guthrie live from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. each weekday morning, she will also stay in Today’s Manhattan studio to co-host the show’s popular fourth hour of the NBC morning show with Kathie Lee. The duo’s fourth-hour antics come complete with cocktails, although the women maintain they don’t actually drink on-air nearly as much as it seems.
“People just assume we are drinking wine the whole time, but the reality is most days it just sits there,” Kathie Lee told Variety.
“I have the chardonnay. Hoda has the red blend. But most days, it just sits there. It’s a prop, but because it’s sitting there, it sort of invites people to the party.”
The duo revealed that the Today show “Happy Hour” was spawned after comedian Chelsea Handler came on the show to promote her book Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea.
“The producers came up with tons of cocktails for her,” Gifford revealed.”We didn’t think anything of it. We thought it was fun… About a week later, Brooke Shields shows up. She says, ‘Where my cocktail?’…And then Joel McHale showed up with his own bottle of Hennessy…It just took on a life of its own.”
Kathie Lee Gifford said the two never get drunk on the set, although Hoda admitted she takes a few sips of wine “just to keep it real.”
Of course, the stress of anchoring a national morning news show is no joke, so Hoda might really be ready for that 10 a.m. glass of wine now.
Take a look at the video below to see Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford’s reaction to Matt Lauer’s firing from the Today show.