On Dec. 11, Kathie Lee Gifford surprised fans when she announced that she will be leaving the "Today" show in April 2019 on what will be her 11th anniversary of joining the show.
Page Six is reporting that Kathie Lee actually told execs she wanted out a year ago but that she stayed on because bosses begged her not to go yet, network insiders revealed.
Kathie Lee — who co-hosts the fourth hour of "Today" with morning anchor Hoda Kotb — ultimately agreed to stay on for an 11th year because, as Page Six reports, the "morning show's lineup was in upheaval, and they wanted to keep as much continuity as possible."
Top brass told Kathie Lee they'd give her periods of time off to do the things that were important to her, like making movies and recording music, to tempt her to stay.
Page Six previously reported that Jenna Bush Hager is the heavy favorite to replace Kathie Lee next year. Jenna — the daughter of former President George W. Bush — is well-liked among viewers as well as NBC execs and has filled in admirably for Kathie Lee in the past.
An NBC source noted that Jenna has great chemistry with Hoda. "Jenna's my hot bet to join Hoda," that source told Page Six.
After Kathie Lee told viewers she was leaving, she said that she had a replacement in mind herself. "I know somebody wonderful will be sitting in this seat afterward," she said, Page Six reported. "I have my idea who might be absolutely wonderful."