Kathie Lee's New Foothold on 'Today'

The "Today" love-in with Gifford and Matt Lauer. (By Peter Kramer -- Associated Press)
Tuesday, April 1, 2008; Page C01

Kathie Lee Gifford, America's most meaninglessly controversial figure, will make her triumphant television comeback Monday on NBC News's "Today" show. She will join Hoda Kotb to co-anchor the show's seven-month-old fourth hour.

The announcement of her return, eight years after taking a powder from Disney's popular syndicated daytime talker "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee," was made by Matt Lauer.

"How many people are simply known by one name, first name: Elvis, Cher, Madonna? You can add one more to that list, someone who is no stranger to the morning grind -- Kathie Lee," Lauer said as he revved up the announcement.

"Isn't that two names?" asked "Today" weatherman Al Roker, a stickler for details.

Lauer said Kathie Lee's return reminded him of that time in "The Godfather III" when Michael Corleone said, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."

Yeah, it's just like that.

"I'm eight years older, 10 pounds heavier, and a half-inch shorter, and just in time for HD television," the 54-year-old Gifford told Lauer, who had been lined up along with Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and the rest of the "Today" on-air talent on the world's longest couch so as to be on-screen when the news was broken.

Wonderful, sanctimonious Kathie Lee, who never met a bad situation she couldn't make 10 times worse.

Remember her fabulous clothing line that, it turned out, was being churned out in sweatshops? Her husband, former NFL player and sports commentator Frank Gifford, appeared at one of the factories trying to dole out cash to the workers as Kathie Lee turned herself into an anti-sweatshop crusader.

Remember Frank's close encounter with a flight attendant in a hotel room, punching a cannonball-size hole in Kathie Lee's flawless marriage? She announced Frank had earned forgiveness, and a supermarket tabloid was accused of having paid the flight attendant to lure poor, naive Frank into the tryst.

Eight years ago, when Gifford announced she was exiting "Live," she said it was because she no longer felt "comfortable sharing the ordinary, innocent, everyday details of my family life, only to watch the tabloid media turn them into harmful, misleading and libelous stories."

Yesterday, on "Today," it took under three minutes for her to bring up her son, Cody -- who, it seems like, just yesterday successfully "pottied" in the bidet of Donald Trump's private jet. Golly, how we've missed Cody.

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