Updated Dec 11, 2018 12:26 PM EST
NEW YORK — Kathie Lee Gifford will put aside her morning glass of wine and step away from NBC’s “Today” show in April, she announced on Tuesday’s broadcast. Gifford will leave the show after 11 years of getting up early, most recently hosting the 10 a.m. hour slot alongside Hoda Kotb and sipping plenty of reds.
“The reason I stayed longer than a year is because I love everybody here so much,” Gifford said at the beginning of the hour. “I’ve been in this business 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people.”
In a memo to staff obtained by The Associated Press, NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim called the 65-year-old Gifford “one of the most enduring and endearing talents in morning television. In short – she is a legend.”
He said she will focus on her film, music and book projects. In the memo, Oppenheim said Gifford told him she was leaving “with a grateful heart but I’m truly excited for this new creative season in my life.”
The move comes as NBC News struggles to remake its sprawling four-hour morning show following the cancellation earlier this year of Megyn Kelly‘s hour-long slot. Before landing the NBC gig, Gifford co-hosted “Live” opposite Regis Philbin for 11 years.
She left that show in 2000 and joined “Today” in 2008. Away from TV, Gifford has supplied the book, lyrics and some of the music for the off-Broadway “Under the Bridge,” an adaptation of a children’s book about a hobo who befriends a homeless family in Paris.
She has released albums, including the poppy “The Heart of a Woman” in 2000 and the religious “Gentle Grace” in 2004. Gifford also has appeared onstage in the Broadway musical revue “Putting it Together” and supplied the book and lyrics for the 2012 Broadway flop “Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson.”
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