Kathie Lee Gifford has been a busy lady lately, but not in her usual chair beside Hoda Kotb on the fourth hour of “Today.” Gifford gave notice on December 11 that she would be leaving the beloved morning broadcast and her workday BFF after the celebration of 11 years together in April. It was clear that the decision did not come easily, but Kathie Lee Gifford has experienced a creative and personal revival since last year, and signals from within told her that the time was right for departure.

To their credit, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee carried on over the holidays with their usual playful rapport and transitioning between laughter and the lowering of the familiar tissue box from above. Just as Kathie Lee gave her announcement early to allow her followers and fans of “Today” to adjust to the news, she also let everyone know that she would be away for the month of January, reportedly making plans to move her everyday life to Nashville, where she has spent much of her time through the last year, writing songs with “Jesus Take the Wheel” composer, Brett James.

The songwriter and Gifford share common ground in faith and higher education from Oklahoma and have also recently joined forces to work for fair compensation for songwriters. Their collaboration began on “He Saw Jesus,” the song Kathie Lee dedicated to her late husband, Frank Gifford, intended to be a vessel for releasing those in bereavement with the comfort of trust in the afterlife. The song shot to the top of the iTunes charts and the creative inspiration sparked the film project, “Then Came You,” pairing Gifford with her favorite “Today” guest host, Craig Ferguson, who encouraged the dive into the love story for the past 30 demographic of moviegoers.

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Reports from In Touch weekly and other sources on January 31 detail that another good friend of Kathie Lee Gifford, Regis Philbin, has been making calls to his former co-host. He would like nothing better than to hit the road again with his former morning show pal, and the years don't seem to matter.

The showbiz bug never stops

The allure of applause and bright lights never dims for any entertainment veteran, and Regis Philbin started calling Kathie Lee the day after she announced her morning show departure.

The bombastic but tender Philbin was paired with Gifford from 1988 to 2000, and the stint garnered a gaggle of Emmy nominations for Gifford, who didn't win her Emmy until her time on “Today.” Regis did another 10 years, co-hosting “Live!” with Kelly Ripa.

Kathie Lee Gifford is very open and self-effacing about being a “dinosaur” in the business, and she confessed that turning 65 this year was an awakening that she wasn't quite prepared to receive.

She declares that she is still open to finding new love and adventure in life. Despite being 87, Regis Philbin is ready to hit the road and do theater shows and casino revues with Kathie Lee.

Philbin has had a case of the doldrums since another of his beloved road partners, Don Rickles, died in 2017, and things have not been “great” for the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” host since.

Kathie Lee Gifford has never been anything but gracious and loving to Philbin, who has frequently has dropped in on “Today” over the years, but she has concern over his health and stamina during a string of booked performances. She cherishes Regis’ “enthusiasm,” but fears that his body isn’t up to the rigors of the road.

Philbin has come through triple bypass surgery, a hip replacement, and a blood clot, all within the past decade or so, and now that Kathie Lee is back to singing, he feels that duets with her can “bring the magic back.”

A send-off for the ages

Before Kathie Lee can consider a road tour, she has to finish her reign as queen of morning TV, and Hoda Kotb assured in a January 25 interview with Entertainment Tonight that the “epic” sendoff for Gifford from her “Today” family would rival the Queen's Jubilee. “Multiply that by about 10” teases Kotb in describing the reflections and tributes planned to be part of the KLG “extravaganza.”

Every “Today” crew member credits time with Gifford as a “master class,” especially when it comes to being authentic through hours of live TV, and loving family when not at work. Sheinelle Jones relates that her best lesson from Kathie Lee was to be “free” and trust herself more than relying on what comes through an earpiece.

Kathie Lee Gifford will be returning soon for her final few weeks, and NBC is still keeping mum on the person that she left to Hoda to choose in filling her chair. One thing is sure, the tissue boxes need to stay on alert.

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