Say it ain’t so! Kathie Lee Gifford has sadly decided to exit Today after 11 years on the show, she revealed on the Tuesday, Dec. 11 episode of the program alongside her longtime co-host, Hoda Kotb.

“I have something to share with everybody. It’s bittersweet as these things always are, but I have been here almost 11 years. Thought I would stay one year. Something happened along the way and fell in love with a beautiful Egyptian goddess and when it’s our 11th anniversary I will be leaving the Today show. I know. It’s an exciting time for me and I’m thrilled about the projects coming up, but it’s also hard is because the reason I stayed longer than a year is because I love everybody here. I have been in this business 120 years and never worked with a more beautiful group of people who just give, give, give every day, four hours of live television five days a week,” she revealed.

She continued, “We laugh and support one another and know each other’s kids names and know when somebody is having a colonoscopy. We know everything! We do life and nobody more so than my Hoda. It’s going to be the same as my Regis [Philbin]. I’m closer to him now than after 15 years together. You don’t share that life together and not be changed forever by it. I love you, Hoda mama. First, you were just Hoda, remember?”

The two couldn’t hold back their tears following the announcement, and neither could we, to be honest. Hoda and Kathie Lee reflected on the past 10 years during the sit-down, and Hoda praised Kathie Lee for all the lovely things that happened to her since she came into her life.

NBC News chief Noah Oppenheim also announced the news this morning in a touching note. “It is with mixed emotions that I share the news Kathie Lee Gifford has decided it’s time to leave Today. As we all know, Kathie Lee’s plate has been overflowing lately with film, music, and book projects, and after giving us eleven extraordinary years, she’s decided to focus her attention full-time on those other creative endeavors,” he began.

The note continued, “When we first launched this incredible hour, no one could have predicted the lightning (or rather, wine) in a bottle that is Hoda & Kathie Lee. Whether in studio or on one of their many road trips, they have delighted our audience with their distinct brand of fun, friendship, and adventure.  During that time, Kathie Lee has cemented her status as one of the most enduring and endearing talents in morning television. In short — she is a legend.”

“Jimmy Fallon summed it up best when he channeled Kenny Rogers on the tenth anniversary show earlier this year:  Through the years, Kathie Lee has never let us down, she’s turned our lives around and she’s brought some of the sweetest days we’ve found,” Oppenheim said.

Kathie Lee Hoda
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“As Kathie Lee told me today: ‘In 2008, I joined the Today show family intending to spend one year. But something unexpected happened along the way: I fell in love with a beautiful, talented, extraordinary Egyptian goddess named Hoda, and an amazing group of individuals who work tirelessly and joyfully at their jobs, many of them starting at midnight, creating an unprecedented four hours of live television. I stayed year after year making a million memories with people I will never forget. I leave Today with a grateful heart but I’m truly excited for this new creative season in my life. Many thanks to all the wonderful people who made the years fly by.'”

He concluded, “Kathie Lee is generously staying with us through the show’s next anniversary, April 7, 2019. We will have much more to share before then about our plans for that hour, which will, of course, continue to include Hoda. Please join me in congratulating Kathie Lee on a dazzling run at Today. We look forward to celebrating her in the months to come.”

Kathie Lee’s departure news comes a few weeks after RadarOnline reported that she was on the chopping block and at risk of being fired. “Executives at Today have quietly been looking for a replacemenfor Kathie Lee. NBC wants younger viewers, and at 65, she’s long in the tooth,” a source revealed at the time. “They want someone who can be a female counterpart to Craig Melvin, who isn’t even 40 yet.” The insider added, “NBC has made it clear how little they care about Kathie Lee and now she’s doing the same. She took weeks off to film a movie in Scotland and if something comes up with her kids, she takes the day off.”

On the program, Kathie Lee dished on what she’ll be working on now that she’s leaving Today. “I have a lot of film projects coming up. I’m going to spending a lot of time in Israel shooting… I’m going to start directing — first time I’m directing an 11-minute film based on a song I wrote with Nicole Seamullen, called ‘The God Who Sees. We are going to do all of that in Israel. I’m excited about that. That will be out hopefully by Easter time. Then we are going to do four more of our Whiskey and Wine movies. Then some other ones I can’t say yet, but we’ve been trying to make them for 16 years. Finally. It’s like the roadblocks are gone. I don’t know it seems like it’s the time. So I’m excited about it.”

We’re excited for her as well, but she will be dearly missed!

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