Jenna Bush Hager is the hot favorite to take over from Kathie Lee Gifford, Page Six understands.
The bubbly blonde, 37, has become popular with viewers and NBC News chiefs alike, and is set to step into Gifford’s role when she leaves on her 11th anniversary in April 2019.
Gifford, 65, herself said Tuesday morning on the air after she announced her departure from the show: “I know somebody wonderful will be sitting in this seat afterwards.” And, “I have my idea who might be absolutely wonderful. But there’s a great pool of talent and beauty and heart right around here. And if they come from outside the family, they will soon become family because we treat everyone that way.”
Bush Hager has been a constant presence on the show, joining co-host Hoda Kotb this summer when Gifford was away in Scotland shooting the movie she wrote, “Love Me To Death.”
Watch Kathie Lee Gifford's announcement on 'Today'
The mother of two’s also a regular on the “Today” 9 a.m. panel. Last week she filmed a special about the loss of her grandfather, President George H.W. Bush, for “Dateline NBC,” called, “Remembering George H.W. Bush: A Love Letter to Gampy.”
NBC sources tell us that Bush Hager fits right in and has chemistry with Kotb, with one saying: “Jenna’s my hot bet to join Hoda.”
Meanwhile, rising “Today” star Sheinelle Jones — who has also sat in for Gifford — is widely expected to join the panel on the 9 a.m. hour left vacant by Megyn Kelly. We’re told Jones is “much loved” at the network.
An NBC spokeswoman declined to comment.
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