9:23am PT by the Associated Press
Kathie Lee Gifford: NBC Asked Me Not to Plug My Wine on 'Today'
Booze may be an oft-mentioned topic when Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb are hosting the fourth hour of the Today show, but one alcoholic beverage they won't be talking about is Gifford's new wine line.
In an interview Tuesday, Gifford said NBC has asked her not to plug her new Gifft chardonnay and red blend on the show.
"They let me announce it and then they've asked us to please not discuss it right now," Gifford said. "We're in the middle of the big takeover of a major corporation. I think they just want to be — and rightfully so — very careful. Everybody wants to dot i's and cross t's and you notice the wine is still sitting there but they've just asked me to be a little careful while they're under great scrutiny and I'm happy to do that."
A representative for Today said, "We love and support Kathie Lee and as always, we let her comments speak for themselves."
NBC's owner, Comcast Corp., says it wants to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. If the deal is approved, it would combine the nation's two top cable companies and create a dominant force in both creating and delivering entertainment.
Gifford and Kotb talked about the wines on Today last month, but on Monday's show, Gifford mentioned she would be making a number of personal appearances but said she couldn't say what they were for.
Gifford says her deal with Scheid Family Wines of Monterey, Calif., to produce the wines "seems like a natural" fit given her love for wine and the presence of alcohol on the show — even though she says nobody really drinks that much.
"That's been outrageously satirized — the amount," she says. "It sits there."
Gifford also says she was "stunned along with everybody else" about the news that Josh Elliott was leaving ABC's Good Morning America for a job at NBC Sports, the second GMA personnel defection in four months.
Restoring Today to its former top spot in the mornings has been an NBC priority since GMA bested Today in the ratings two years ago. While Gifford and Kotb's fourth hour continues to have strong ratings, Gifford acknowledged the ratings slide in the earlier Today hours, noting the show has been "making inroads" and adding: "Maybe we can reverse the trend now."