Is Kathie Lee Gifford the new Rosie?

 
 

Kathie Lee Gifford is known for a lot of things. She was the Carnival Cruise Lines spokesperson. She was a vocalist on Name That Tune. She’s the wife of Frank Gifford and the mother of Cody and Cassidy. She was an unwitting sweatshop labor beneficiary. And of course, she was the perkier half of Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.

Now, however, she’s getting ready to be known for a new gig: Beginning next Monday, she’ll joining the crew of the Today Show.

Sort of. She won’t actually be on the air with this crew most of the time. She’ll be on the relatively new fourth hour of the show with co-host Hoda Kotb.

Here, I’ll let her tell you about it herself:

I used to be a regular Today Show viewer (and I still miss Katie Couric.) But a longer commute and a step-dog that needs to be walked cut into my morning TV habits. So I cannot really watch the first hour, much less the fourth.

Regardless, I wonder what effect Kathie Lee will have on the show. It’s pretty clear that she’ll draw attention to the show, if nothing else. And she was awfully popular during her 15 years with Regis. But not with everyone. An article in the New York Daily News noted that “[t]he high-strung host has a reputation for being as annoying as she is endearing.”

According to media psychiatrist Carole Lieberman: “What makes Kathie Lee as irritating as fingernails on a blackboard to some people is that she makes the story about her. I think a lot of people remember her for that. She interrupted more important news to talk about her life, her family, her music — making the show about her instead of being the conduit for a topic or a guest."

So there’s some speculation that she could be the new Rosie O’Donnell — the host whose polarizing presence is enough to attract viewers.

Interestingly, I recall thinking, early in her talk show days, that Rosie reminded me a little bit of Kathie Lee — mostly in the way that she annoyingly talked about her kids. And they’ve both had ill-fated stage turns. Kathie Lee is the better singer, but her turn as “Miss Hannigan” did not exactly draw rave reviews.

Regardless, I do think the controversy Rosie generated on The View was different than the controversy Kathie Lee may bring with her to Today. I agree with Lieberman that Rosie attracted and repelled viewers with her strong opinions and her method of expressing them, while Kathie Lee attracts and annoys viewers with her persona. And that’s a significant difference.

And another difference is that, unlike Kathie Lee, Rosie never shot a video wearing what appear to be leather pants.

How about you? Do you believe Kathie Lee will draw viewers or drive them away?

 
 

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