Jenna Bush Hager and Willie Geist both work the early hours at their NBC posts. Geist should earn an evening shift differential for all the heavy lifting he does as host of MSNBC's “Morning Joe.” While Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough are frequently on the stump for Brzezinski’s “Know Your Value” female empowerment campaigns and book signings, Willie Geist gets up in the twilight hours for the 6 AM EST broadcast, not to mention the hours scouring news sources to prepare.

Geist does his “Today” and “Sunday Today” duties unflappably, and for the past two days, July 2-3, Willie has been Jenna Bush Hager's handy banter partner in her hour of the broadcast.

Jenna Bush Hager hasn't simply taken the reins of “Today’s” fourth hour with a slew guest co-hosts since the April arrival of Hoda Kotb’s second adopted daughter, Hope Catherine, in April, just after the celebrations of love to send off Kathie Lee Gifford.

Hager has worked her own early shift, filling in for the “Today” co-anchor through the opening two hours.

While everyone celebrates parenthood with beloved Hoda Kotb, everyone on “Today” surely is anticipating her return soon. Jenna Bush Hager kept a secret of her own pregnancy for several months so as not to encroach on any of Kotb’s motherly joy. With the weeks quickly passing, Jenna presumably will go on her own maternity leave almost the instant that Hoda returns. Viewers will be lucky to see a week of “Hoda & Jenna” together.

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The hours must be getting to them

This morning held sure signs that the long hours are getting to both Willie Geist and Jenna Bush Hager. Willie admitted that he actually believed that Hoda Kotb was back to work when he passed by her office, seeing a life-size cutout of the venerated news journalist against the office chair.

To Willie Geist’s credit, the image was natural Hoda to a tee, as Jenna Bush Hager pointed out, even down to her necklace being turned off-center to the left.

With her easy smile and style in a light blue dress, it really could have been Kotb, except for being made of cardboard.

Jenna played along with the fun, frequently including “flat Hoda” in the conversation, asking “Right, Hoda?” here and there.

One of the reasons Hager is not getting enough sleep is her runaway success with her book club selections. Besides being a very involved mom to her daughters, Mila and Poppy, and preparing every day to go on the air, Willie Geist pointed out that Jenna is quickly gaining as much clout as Oprah Winfrey in the literary world.

The aptitude may be in the genes. Hager was an elementary school teacher who inherited her love of reading from her mother, former First Lady, Laura Bush. Laura Bush was a librarian and made literacy the cornerstone of her platform. Jenna and her sister, Barbara have also been advocates for literacy all over the world.

Willie was probably right to praise the “Jenna effect” in promoting great books, but he had another talent in store this week.

Beating up on bottle caps

Musician John Mayer and actor Jason Statham are among the Celebrities taking credit for the most recent social media frenzy-- the bottle cap challenge. Willie Geist may not have the skill with strings or the string of “Fast and Furious” action films on his resume, but he still was able to show his skill in sending a red bottle cap flying with a single kick.

Mayer and Statham had the advantage of much more casual dress for their feat in this foot-based precision challenge. Willie Geist was wearing dress shoes when he sent his kick to send the cap sailing. Jenna Bush Hager was there to verify, and one of the stage crew caught the cap in flight.

Jenna Bush Hager and Willie Geist are hosts with many varied talents, and both will soon appreciate some needed time off from these extended work hours.

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