Hoda Kotb Leaves ‘Today’ Early, Willie Geist Fills in on ‘Hoda and Jenna’

Hoda Kotb Leaves ‘Today’ Early, Willie Geist Fills in on ‘Hoda and Jenna’

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Hoda Kotb Leaves ‘Today’ Ahead of ‘Hoda and Jenna’, Willie Geist Steps in to Cohost

A surprising switch-up occurred on the Wednesday, March 27, episode of Today With Hoda and Jenna.

Sunday Today host Willie Geist stepped in to cohost alongside Jenna Bush Hager after Hoda Kotb mysteriously skipped out on the episode. The duo did not share the reason why Kotb, who was present during the first two hours of the NBC morning show, was absent.

“Not only can Willie host all the shows on television, and pull out my chair … but he also is a star,” Bush Hager, 42, gushed about Geist, 48, before jumping into a discussion about his recent guest role on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Praising Geist’s ability to share the screen with a pro like Larry David, Bush Hager said she could see Giest go on to become “a soap star” down the line. “I think you could be on, like, The Young and the Restless.”

Hoda Kotb Leaves Today Early Wilie Geist Fills in on Hoda and Jenna

Hoda Kotb and Wilie Geist.
Getty Images (2)

Geist remarked that he thinks he’s “too old now” to take on a soap opera gig before suggesting another potential career move. “Or The Golden Bachelor next season, something like that,” he stated before realizing he forgot he is married. He tied the knot with his wife, Christina Geist, in 2003.

Kotb, 59, has yet to address her absence from Hoda and Jenna. She was not present on Today all of last week as she took a spring break trip with her two daughters, Haley, 7, and Hope, 4. (She shares her girls with ex-fiancé Joel Schiffman.)

“Beautiful days… magical nights ❤️❤️❤️,” she captioned an Instagram slideshow of vacation pics on March 21. Among the snaps of her and her daughters was a sweet video of Haley and Hope running up and down the beach.

Hoda Kotb Leaves Today Early Wilie Geist Fills in on Hoda and Jenna

Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb.
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

“Run to me!” Kotb shouts at her girls in the clip, after which Hope tells her to be careful not to step on “pricklies” scattered in the sand. Days prior, she posted a stunning sunset beach photo via Instagram, which she captioned with a single red heart emoji.

Kotb previously took a big leave of absence from Today last year due to a “family health matter.” She later revealed that Hope had been hospitalized in the ICU for “more than a week” after experiencing a health scare.

“I’m so grateful she’s home. … I was waiting for that day to come,” she said during her March 2023 return to the show. “And we are watching her closely. I’m just so happy.”

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She took two more breaks that same month, one to spend spring break with her kids and the other to recover from a personal illness.

Kotb opened up about Hope’s “scary stretch” for the first time earlier this month. “Any parent who’s been through a scary thing with their child understands. It’s like you just can’t believe that your child’s sick,” she told People in an interview published on March 6. “You can’t believe that there’s nothing you can do. You can’t believe that no matter what you do, you can’t will it away or protect her, or all the things that we’re supposed to be doing as parents. And it’s a position I’ve never found myself in.”

The TV personality went on to praise Hope’s strength amid her health struggles, stating, “This child is going to have the easiest adulthood because she’s had a tough go of it early on.”

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