Peter Kramer, Associated Press
Matt Lauer talks with Kathie Lee Gifford during the announcement of her co-hosting duties on the fourth hour of "The Today Show."

She's ba-ack!

One-time daytime TV superstar Kathie Lee Gifford has, as expected, signed on to co-host the fourth hour of NBC's "Today Show." Beginning Monday, Regis Philbin's former talk-show partner will team with Hoda Kotb.

While Gifford's return will put her in direct competition with her former partner and her replacement, Kelly Ripa, in some television markets, that won't be the case here in Utah. "Live With Regis & Kelly" airs weekdays at 9 a.m. on KTVX Ch. 4, while KSL Ch. 5 delays the fourth hour of "Today" until 1 p.m.

(Which is sort of, well, odd. Ch. 5 airs three hours of "Today" from 7-10 a.m., then gives us "Rachael Ray," "Studio 5" and the noon news before getting back to the rest of "Today.")

Gifford, 54, sat next to Philbin for 15 years. But it's been eight years since she left the daytime chat fest, and that's a lifetime in television. Certainly she still has fans out there, but even at the height of her popularity Gifford was a rather polarizing figure.

Some viewers loved her; others loved to hate her.

NBC, of course, won't care why anyone tunes in as long as they do.

NOT SURPRISINGLY, given the gossip, people who write about television are trying to stir up controversy involving Utah "American Idol" finalist David Archuleta.

Because the contestants themselves aren't available for interviews until they're voted off the show, you've got to expect that people who write about TV would use those exit interviews as a way to dig for dirt on the, um, unsubstantiated reports that his father, Jeff, is a horrible stage father.

Like when one of those people asked Chikezie, who was eliminated from the show last week, "Did you notice any tensions between 'Idol' people and David's father?"

"Oh, nothing much," Chikezie replied. "No, nothing at all, actually. Everyone got together pretty well. There wasn't any kind of rubbing anyone the wrong way. Everybody respected each other."

You could almost hear the collective sigh from disappointed gossip mongers.

To hear Chikezie talk, it's just one big happy family backstage at "Idol."

"It becomes a family because you're a group of people that are basically going for a similar goal," he said. "And it's not necessarily to win or to beat anyone, but simply to be successful in what it is we love. So we basically just form these bonds where we're just helping each other out. We create this amazing support system.

"If one person is having a bad time, then two people come up and back them up. We never have too many problems."

But he denied the suggestion that any of the contestants might be romantically involved with each other.

"No, nothing more than friendships. Nothing more than friendships," Chikezie said. "If there was anything more than that, it would be awkward on tour."

"BREAK" DOWN: Somewhat surprisingly, Fox has ordered a fourth season of "Prison Break."

The reason that's surprising isn't just that the ratings for Season 3 were somewhat iffy. There's the whole part about how both Season 2 and Season 3 were ludicrous, boring and downright stupid.

"SHARK" SWIMS TO TUESDAY: CBS's "Legal Drama," which did very nicely last season on Thursdays and less well this season on Sundays, will return from its writers' strike-prompted hiatus on Tuesdays.

James Woods & Co. will take up residency on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. beginning April 29.

PRIMETIME "PRICE": "The Price Is Right" has done so well on Friday nights that CBS has ordered four more prime-time "Million Dollar Spectaculars" for the upcoming May sweeps.

But Drew Carey & Co. won't be returning to Fridays; "Price" will air Wednesdays at 7 p.m. beginning April 30. (And, yes, the May sweeps do start in April.)

The prime-time ratings strength of a 36-year-old daytime game show is nothing short of astonishing.


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