Rise and Shine: A Day with Kathie Lee Gifford

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A New Attitude

Over the next three hours Gifford will prove herself cheerfully, thoughtfully contrarian, holding forth on faith, infidelity, death, sex, politics, and Botox. Mascara will run. The corned beef will disappear. This is a woman of great energy and appetites, some of which surprise even her. Fittingly, Gifford offers a line uttered in Bella, a small foreign film she loves: "If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans."

Despite her firm new footing, Gifford's Today spot, cohosted with former Dateline NBC correspondent Hoda Kotb, is still finding its legs, trying segments on proper bra fitting and what the male of the species really wants. Since their hour is often televised live from the plaza at Rockefeller Center, she and Kotb, whom she's taken to calling "Hodawoman," began their partnership wrapped in coats and slickers against a chilly spring air. Yesterday the wind took all of Kotb's notes. Live.

"There was this look of panic in Hoda's eyes," Gifford recalls. "I said, 'See what God is trying to tell you? This is not about notes, it's about people. Forget what they said in the preinterview, it's about living in the moment.' I said, 'Hoda, trust yourself. And when you don't trust yourself, trust me. 'Cause we're in this together.'"

Between the fluffy cupcake tastings and movie promos Gifford and Kotb also gnaw on the gristle of current affairs. High-profile infidelity was a topic their first week, owing to the resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer after revelations that he was involved in a prostitution scandal. TV audiences watched Silda Spitzer stand by her man much the way Kathie Lee Gifford did in 1997 when Frank, then 66, was caught in a hotel tryst with a married 46-year-old former flight attendant that was taped for a tabloid. Few women know the torments of those awful public and private moments better than Gifford. And today her hindsight puts an insider spin on conventional attitudes toward marital crises.

For starters, she insists, never cast the wronged wife as an object of pity. "She's not humiliated," Gifford says of Silda Spitzer. "He is. Our culture assumes 'what's wrong with her if he's going to a hooker?' Instead of, hello, what's wrong with him? He's going to a hooker when he has a beautiful wife at home and three gorgeous daughters who deserve better than that."

Continued on page 3:  Bonding with the Clintons


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