Hoda Kotb’s TV yesterdays before ‘Today’

TV Pipeline

Hoda Kotb

Q: What did Hoda Kotb do before she became a co-anchor of “Today”? – Christine Barker, Palm Coast, Fla.

A: Her first job in TV news was as an assistant for CBS News in Cairo in the mid-1980s,  and then she worked as an anchor and/or reporter at stations in Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana (New Orleans, specifically) and Florida.

Kotb joined NBC News in 1998 as a national correspondent, but her image with that division largely became cemented when she joined Kathie Lee Gifford for the fourth hour of “Today” starting in 2007. With Gifford’s recent exit, she’s now partnered with Jenna Bush Hager for that hour – and she also continues as Savannah Guthrie’s principal anchoring partner on the main two hours of “Today,” a situation that happened quite suddenly in the fall of 2017 when NBC parted company with then-co-host Matt Lauer.

Clayne Crawford

Q: I heard that “Lethal Weapon” has been canceled. Is that true? – Pat Donnelly, via e-mail

A: Yes. That the Fox series got a Season 3 order a year ago was last-minute luck, since there was no guarantee it would continue after the firing of star Clayne Crawford – but a deal was made for Seann William Scott to board the show as a new character to partner with Damon Wayans Sr.’s Roger Murtaugh.

Whether Wayans himself would continue then became a question mark, since he publicly said last fall that he was ready to walk, due to what he voiced as his dissatisfaction with long working hours that cut into his family time substantially. Eventually, an agreement was struck for him to stay, at least at that time; the question of whether that would have held for Season 4 is moot now.

Q: I missed “Dancing With the Stars” this spring. Will it be back in the fall? – Donna Cramer, Grafton, Ohio

A: It will. You can expect to see hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews back in the ballroom with many of the returning dance pros and a new group of celebrity contestants, since ABC has renewed the competition for its 28th season.

Besides making the show more of an event again with it staged only once per television year (despite the “Juniors” spinoff that was attempted last fall), the reduced schedule also addresses the abundance of reality programming that the network now has in the early months of the calendar year. Mondays remain reserved for “The Bachelor,” which also has been renewed – and in the interim between that and the spring start of “The Bachelorette,” additional episodes of the then-in-season “American Idol” have been used to help fill the Monday gap.

Q: Did Clint Eastwood ever do any TV series besides “Rawhide”? – Doug Adams, Buffalo, N.Y.

A: Before that classic Western – which, along with his Man With No Name movies, made him a star – Eastwood did some guest roles on shows including “Highway Patrol” and “Death Valley Days,” but there wasn’t a steady series role for him until “Rawhide’s” Rowdy Yates.

Perhaps the most interesting of those early television appearances was in an episode of “Maverick” that teamed Eastwood with that show’s star, James Garner … who would be hired by star and director Eastwood four decades later to appear with him in the movie “Space Cowboys.”

Q: Wasn’t there another version of “The Untouchables” besides the one with Robert Stack? – Steve Mason, via e-mail

A: After the 1987 movie version starring Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro and Oscar winner Sean Connery was a hit with audiences and critics, Paramount Television produced a 1993-94 series incarnation for first-run syndication to local stations. Tom Amandes, later of “Everwood,” took the Eliot Ness role originally played by Robert Stack – and mobster Al Capone, seen only rarely in the original show, became a bigger element as played by William Forsythe.

Those portraying the agents on Ness’ team encompassed some interesting acting choices. John Rhys-Davies appeared as a character inspired by Connery’s role in the movie (both had the last name Malone), and a pre-“JAG” David James Elliott and a post-“Superboy” John Haymes Newton also played allies of Ness. And a neat life-mirroring-art note: Nancy Everhard, who played Ness’ wife, later became Amandes’ actual spouse.

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

jbobbin has 1975 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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