Kathie Lee Gifford was on duty this morning, May 24, in her familiar seat, next to Sheinelle Jones for this fourth-hour stint, since sidekick, Hoda Kotb, was away working on another project. The talkative, veteran morning host had to remind herself: “we've got a show to do,” because her thoughts were already miles, and maybe a continent, away. She'll be packing her bags today, first for California, and then for Scotland, to begin shooting her true “passion” project of her independent film, “Love Me to Death” through June, and according to Kathie Lee Gifford, her passion doesn't just refer to the inspiration for her story.

Early sparks of inspiration

Kathie Lee Gifford has felt a resurgence of artistry, creativity, and spirit over the past year that has been remarkable, and it all began with her song, “He Saw Jesus,” written to honor the abiding and joyous life of love she shared with second husband, Frank Gifford, who passed in August of 2015. Nashville-based songwriter and concerned friend, Brett James, didn't just want to make sure that Kathie Lee was coming through grief with an open heart. Beyond that, he wanted to allow her words to reach others who languish in a constant state of loss. The collaborators hoped to reassure them of the hope that is real and eternal in this life and the one after for the person of faith.

The song shot to the top of the iTunes charts after Kathie Lee Gifford sang it last fall from the “Today” stage.

Brett James continued to be so impressed by pages of words that he found sticking out of Kathie Lee Gifford's handbag that he and the former cruise ship entertainer had created almost all of the music for “Love Me to Death” before the film itself became a reality.

Another song they collaborated on, "Jesus Is His Name,” became another hit for Gifford, and she sang it at the national Christmas tree lighting last December. The title track of the movie raced to the top of the charts within hours of its debut on February 28 of this year.

The chemistry between Kathie Lee Gifford and Craig Ferguson was demonstrated for all the world to see when Ferguson filled in for a week for Hoda Kotb during her maternity leave after adopting Haley Joy.

Between keeping the network censors close to their bleep buttons, Kathie Lee and Craig cultivated a genuine and deep friendship, and it was a “kick in the pants” kind of revelation from him then that encouraged Gifford to make her own dreams come true, and get this movie made, before both she and Ferguson were no longer around to have fun with it. Earlier this month, Craig Ferguson created a video message for Kathie Lee, feigning his fear of her as “my boss,” and expressing his eagerness to introduce her to the natives of Scotland, whom he called “giant people with beautiful teeth.”

The dream come true, but not so easily

Kathie Lee was inspired by Craig Fergusonin my head” as she wrote the film’s story, complete with his bawdy jokes and Scottish brogue.

She also had help from her son, Cody, in getting some local flavor. “Thank God I sent him to Oxford,” she playfully joked.

The dream come true of making “Love Me to Death” a reality wasn't easy and it took a while. “You have to fight for your dreams,” asserted Kathie Lee. Gifford is another vocal ambassador for creating roles for stars of a certain age who are vibrant and multitalented.

The host wasn't allowed to speak of the cast by name yet, but clearly was very proud of her “little movie with big themes.” The story centers on a woman who travels around the world after the loss of her husband and opens her heart to find a true kind of love and faith.

There will be a love scene featuring herself and Ferguson that is “going to surprise you,” yet she reminded that “it’s not porn.” After this surprising year for Kathie Lee Gifford, “Love Me to Death” can't be anything but a treat.