April 14, 2008 12:00 PM

Kathie Lee Gifford is back on the morning shift. On April 7, the former Live with Regis and Kathie Lee star will begin cohosting the fourth hour of Today alongside Hoda Kotb. Gifford, 54, talked to PEOPLE’s K.C. Baker about her return.

Why did you decide to come back to TV eight years after leaving Live?

I wasn’t looking to come back at all. Hoda ambushed me and said, “Would you ever consider joining the show?” Then [Today executive producer] Jim Bell seduced me. Somewhere along the line I must have signed something because here I am.

What do your kids [Cody, 18, and Cassidy, 14] think?

I left [Live] for my family. They were the ones who said, “Mom, it’s time.” When they’re 18 and 14, they don’t want to spend too much time with their parents!

How are you getting along with your new coworkers?

There I was [backstage getting ready to announce her new Today role March 31] with no makeup on and my hair soaking wet at 4 a.m. That’s not when you want to say hi to Matt Lauer. He said, “Is there anything I can get you?” I said, “Is Brad Pitt here?” He joked, “Oh, nice. You ask for Brad Pitt when I’m right here.”

Your son Cody is heading to college next fall. What’s he like now?

He’s 6’3″. He has started to eat a box of cereal for breakfast every morning. He’s got that physique like his father [Frank Gifford, 77]. He’s a great athlete, a great scholar and a funny human being.

What are you doing to look TV-ready?

I had a little freshening, as they say. A little fluffing. I haven’t had a face-lift, but I certainly don’t discount it. I have a fabulous dermatologist, who says to do as little as possible as often as possible. And I wear industrial-strength Spanx.

On Live, you famously locked lips with Tom Selleck. Which celeb guest would you like to smooch on Today?

I love, love, love James Marsden. If George Clooney insists, then I will have to let him come on. He is the real deal.

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