A free-wheeling conversation between Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb Thursday on “The Today Show” eventually careened into an area that was sensitive for Hoda.
That’s because Kathie Lee began a line of commentary that alluded to the recent ouster of Ann Curry from “Today,” and the role Hoda almost played in the drama.
The moment came about eight minutes into the “host chat” segment in which Kathie Lee and Hoda bat around a handful of topics to start off their hour of “The Today Show.” It’s a segment not unlike the ones Kathie Lee and Regis Philbin used to have when they co-hosted “Live” together.
On Thursday’s segment, the discussion turned to the subject of competitiveness in the workplace. And Hoda asked Kathie Lee how she would deal with a situation in which she and a friend were up for the same job.
Kathie Lee answered with an analogy from her early career as an actress, noting that she would often run into friends at auditions for commercials, TV shows and movies and, according to her, she was never upset if her friend got the part and she didn’t.
But Hoda pressed on with the subject. “What if you’re in a business, and there’s one job that comes open, and you and your friend are both …,” she asked Kathie Lee.
And Kathie Lee replied, “Well, that has recently happened around here and I was extremely happy for you! When you were considered for something wonderful. I’m happy for you! If the person’s a friend — you’re thrilled for them!”
Kathie Lee was no doubt referring to the “Today” show’s move to replace Ann Curry, co-host for the past year with Matt Lauer, with Savannah Guthrie last week. As that drama unfolded, rumors surfaced that Hoda was under consideration to replace Curry, before NBC News brass made the decision to go with Guthrie.
Kathie Lee’s reference to that aspect of the story amounted to a near-confirmation that those rumors were true (though they’ve never been officially confirmed by tight-lipped NBC officials).
To her credit, Hoda kept her cool and asked simply, “How did we get there?” She then moved on to other topics.
Among those topics were: Sleep and the difficulties presented by city noise, customer service (revolving around one man’s misadventure in a Starbuck’s), and cellphone etiquette.
Since we rarely have the opportunity to catch the Hoda-Kathie Lee host-chat segment, we were struck by how lively it was, when we watched the segment, above. Kathie Lee is especially skilled at this kind of spontaneous television, which is how she happens to tread sometimes into murky waters, so to speak. That makes for great television, of course.
The segment was also enlivened by timely sound effects such as car horns honking during the sleep segment and cellphones ringing in the etiquette part. We were especially amused when snoring sound effects were played during the sleep conversation and we recognized the distinctive, comical snoring chorus of The Three Stooges, including the high-pitched contribution of Shemp. It was definitely something we never dreamed we’d hear on “The Today Show.”