NBC Will Add Live Studio Audience to ‘Hoda & Jenna’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety | 1/16/2020 | Brian Steinberg
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NBC News paired Jenna Bush Hager with Hoda Kotb nearly a year ago in the fourth hour of its venerable “Today” morning franchise. And yet, the duo feels like their show is only now just about to launch.

After taking time off for individual maternity leaves last year, Kotb and Hager hadn’t really spent much time anchoring the program together. Now they are about to make up for lost time.

February - Kotb - Hager - Show - Front

Starting in February, Kotb and Hager will do the show in front of a live, in-studio audience twice a week. They will make use of Studio 6A, the facility that once housed David Letterman’s “Late Night” and Megyn Kelly’s “Megyn Kelly Today,” and is now being used for live-audience programs on Fridays with MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes. The live shows will be called “Hoda & Jenna & Friends.”

“The ladies having an audience will make them better at what they do,” says Joanne LaMarca, executive producer of the slot known among staffers as “The Happy Hour,” in a recent interview. “There’s a certain energy when you perform on stage, when you have people react to what you are doing.” Having a live audience will allow for new interactive segments that involve games or instant reactions. “I think that the audience is really going to change things up and I can’t wait for Hoda and Jenna to get to meet the best friends they don’t know they have.”

Kotb - Maternity - Hager - Program - Basis

Kotb took maternity leave soon after Hager joined the program on a full-time basis last spring, and Hager then departed in August for similar reasons. Kotb returned to “Today” in September and Hager in November. Some of NBC’s plans for the program, which had been hosted by Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford for more than a decade, had to be put on hold.

Executives have reason to try...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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