Photo: Andrew Toth (Getty Images)

Hoda Kotb’s star is on the rise at NBC, with her getting Matt Lauer’s spot on the Today desk after he was fired at the beginning of the year, but her future at Today will be a bit more lonely going forward. As reported by Page Six, Kotb’s on-screen best friend Kathie Lee Gifford will be leaving Today next year, making the tearful announcement herself on Today this morning:

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Gifford’s final episode will be on the show’s 11th anniversary in April of next year, at which point Today will most likely be renamed Kotb and the logo behind the desk will be replaced with one cartoon woman towering above the sun like the triumphant warrior she has become. Oh sure, there are other anchors in the previous Today hours, but Kotb is clearly going to be the one person holding the show together. She’s the Batman to the rest of the show’s Justice League.

Page Six also says that Jenna Bush Hager is the favorite to replace Gifford, referring to her as a “bubbly blonde” in a gross aside and noting that she already has chemistry with Kotb and is well-liked at Today thanks to her current work as a contributor. NBC hasn’t commented on this rumor, but we’ll probably know who will replace Gifford early next year.

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