Jenna Bush Hager Is the Frontrunner to Replace Kathie Lee Gifford on Today Show, Source Says
“There’s still the fourth hour, but nothing has been determined about her replacement. She’s here until April anyway. But it’s looking like Jenna,” a source tells PEOPLE about Gifford’s Today show colleague, Jenna Bush Hager, who joined the program in September 2009.
“She’s in the mix because she is a favorite among viewers and staffers and she has already filled in for Kathie Lee every time she’s been away,” the source explains.
When Gifford, 65, announced her departure Tuesday morning, Bush Hager tweeted a sweet message to her colleage.
“We adore you KLG. Thanks for your love, friendship and for your hilarity. You will be dearly missed,” Bush Hager, 37, tweeted alongside a red heart emoji.
According to a memo to staff from NBC News president Noah Oppenheim, Gifford will stay with the show through her 11th anniversary on April 7, 2019.
Although Gifford is saying goodbye to the morning program after over a decade, her co-anchor Hoda Kotb is staying put.
“Hoda will stay on,” the source says, adding, “People would freak out if she left the fourth hour, too.”
Gifford and Kotb grew emotional when breaking the news on-air.
“I have something to share with everybody, and it’s bittersweet as these things always are,” Gifford began. “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 I love everybody here so much.”
“I’ve been in this business 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give, every day,” she continued. “Four hours of live television every day, five days a week. We have fun and we laugh and we support one another and we know each other’s kids names and we know when someone’s having a colonoscopy. We know everything! We do life together.”
Gifford also said she “fell in love” with Kotb, 54, during their time together, calling her a “beautiful Egyptian goddess.”
“You’re just so special, Hoda,” she said. “Thank you, thank you so much.”
As she began to cry, Kotb said, “The minute you stepped into my life, everything changed.”