Longtime Today host Kathie Lee Gifford is leaving the popular morning show in April, according to an internal memo sent to employees Tuesday morning.
NBC News president Noah Oppenheim told staffers that Gifford was leaving the show to focus on other endeavors, including “film, music and book projects.” Oppenheim also called Giffords a “legend” for her “enduring and endearing talents in morning television.”
Gifford has co-hosted the 10 a.m. hour of the Today show with Hoda Kotb since 2008. Prior to that, she spent 15 years co-hosting Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee alongside Regis Philbin.
An emotional Gifford broke the news to her audience during the opening of the 10 a.m. hour of Tuesday’s Today show, calling the moment “bittersweet.”
“I’m going to be leaving the Today show," Gifford 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, because the reason I stayed longer than a year is because I love everybody here so much.”
Gifford’s departure leaves Today show executives with the challenge of filling two big holes in the lineup. Megyn Kelly, the show’s former 9 a.m. host, was forced off after her comments about dressing in blackface sparked outrage among viewers and her own colleagues.
Kelly is still reportedly still working out a deal for her NBC exit, in which she is expected to talk away with $30 million, the amount left on her contract. Variety reports that Kelly won’t be bound by any non-compete restrictions, and could take a job at another news organization almost immediately.
The two moves cap off a tumultuous year for the popular morning show following the ouster of longtime Today host Matt Lauer, who was fired a little more than a year ago after allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior surfaced.