Acting is a deceptively difficult job. Doing so with the knowledge that you’re on live TV is even tougher. Add the task of presenting a carefully tailored version of yourself day after day and you have perhaps the toughest TV job of all.
In such a role, you’re expected to maintain your composure no matter what. If you’re the star of a light-hearted program, you must remain an eternal ray of sunshine at all times. Even if a colleague, say, shares a highly personal and private anecdote about your life to millions of viewers across the country without your permission. Which is the exact unfortunate situation in which Hoda Kotb found herself early in her TODAY Show career.
On a recent episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, a pair of TODAY Show fans were invited to ask Hoda Kotb a question. They wanted to know if Kathie Lee Gifford, Jenna Bush Hager, or any of her other cohosts had ever shared a story about her without her permission on live TV.
Without taking even a moment to consider it, Hoda Kotb had her answer ready. “Kathie [Lee Gifford] did it to me,” Kotb recalled. “She threw one huge grenade once.”
Hoda Kotb’s Horrifying Valentine’s Day Tale
For Hoda Kotb, the nightmare started and ended on Valentine’s Day. “I was telling [Kathie Lee Gifford] that I was married once before and I got my divorce papers on Valentine’s Day,” Kotb said. While in the makeup room backstage, Kathie Lee Gifford expressed her Valentine’s Day excitement, to which Hoda responded by revealing that she actually hates the romantic holiday.
When Kathie Lee Gifford asked why Hoda had such a strong hatred for Love Day, she replied with the story of her divorce. The pair then ventured onto the set for the day’s show, which just so happened to be on Valentine’s Day.
“[The set] is all decorated with flowers and hearts and I go, ‘Good morning! Happy Valentine’s Day!’” Hoda Kotb explained. “And [Kathie] looks at me and she goes, ‘Not for you!’”
“I remember that grenade fell right on the table,” the TODAY Show host said. “And I didn’t know what to do. I was so new, I didn’t know what to say. And I said, ‘That was makeup room talk, that wasn’t, like, for out here! Because we’re happy out here.’”
Hoda Kotb was obviously mortified by the spilled secret. As Andy Cohen explained, however, this awkward interaction was likely a positive in the eyes of viewers. “But you know what, that is one of the hallmarks of the fourth hour,” he said. “And that’s why it’s so successful. Because there is no line.”
“I mean, what’s great is, I’ll be talking to you in the times I’ve gotten to cohost with you, and it’s like, the camera goes on, and it catches whatever’s going on,” Cohen continued. “[As the viewer], it feels like you’re part of whatever natural conversation was happening they were off.”