kathie lee gifford

On the fourth hour of the Today show, Wednesday is “Winesday” and Thursday is “Thirstday.”

As a journalist who’s morally opposed physically unable to get out of bed before 7am, I’m not up to date with the Today show. I am, however, well acquainted with the so-called “fourth hour” at 10am starring Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb, and a bottle of wine. Why would you want to watch Matt Lauer interview some head of state when Kathie Lee and Hoda are drinking pinot from a Baby Bjorn and running obstacle courses in sumo suits? They call it “TV’s happy hour”; Entertainment Weekly called it TV’s craziest hour. Blame the crazy on the menopause, says Gifford.

This Emmy- (yes, Emmy) winning team invades Seattle this Thursday in honor of the opening of Gifford’s new musical, Saving Aimee, at 5th Avenue Theatre. Kathie Lee’s already been in town for a few weeks for rehearsals (and to talk about Christianity and cleavage with The Stranger). But this is your chance to watch the ladies toss fish at Pike Place Market, make phallic jokes at the Space Needle, and ask for a shot of Baileys with their Starbucks.

The show will be broadcast live this Thursday at 7am (to air on the East Coast at 10am). If you want to be part of the outdoor audience, you’re encouraged to get to 1st Avenue and Pike Street by 6am. They’ll also tape Friday’s episode later that day, which is slated to include a visit by Train’s front man Pat Monahan, a performance by Saving Aimee star Carolee Carmello, and a backstage tour of the set.

So grab your travel thermos, fill it with mimosas, and come meet this bleary-eyed journalist bright and early tomorrow morning.

Updated 10/20/11 8:30am. Just got back from the 7am taping at Pike Place Market. I’d say about 100 people came out to watch, including a guy dressed as an elephant who took a detour on his way to Occupy Seattle. Don’t want to ruin the show for you, so I’ll just give a few highlights from my notebook:

7:01am Hoda takes her first sip of wine (a Washington label, but I didn’t get the name).

7:03am Kathie Lee and Hoda discuss Seattle’s general refusal to cross at a crosswalk until we get the signal.

7:07am Singing.

7:19am Fish tossing with the Pike Place Fish Market guys (the best-looking of the bunch for national TV?). Kathie Lee asks if she should catch like Frank Gifford; Hoda fumbles (twice). Some guy in the audience keeps yelling “Ba-ba-boooey!”

7:30 Barista competition: A guy from Starbucks, a woman from Tully’s, and Adam from Caffe Vita face off in a brewing competition. Caffe Vita is the clear winner, because Adam’s cup was “classic” and it “looked pretty.” (Note: One of the judges only drinks tea.)

7:40am Rain fashion presented by Nordstrom. I get a call from my mom, who’s watching the segment live in New Jersey, asking if I want rain boots for Christmas.

7:45am Buskers Morrison Boomer represent!

7:48am Kathie Lee references Twin Peaks off camera.

7:55am Broadway’s Carolee Carmello, the lead in Saving Aimee, sings a number from the musical. She’s good. Really good.

8:01am Show’s over. I ask Hoda and Kathie Lee what surprises them about Seattle.
Hoda: This didn’t surprise me, but everyone’s so kind. It sounds almost Pollyanna.
Kathie Lee: They’re mellow, they’re sweet.
Hoda: There’s a real genuineness; there’s not the edge. I just feel like it’s a big exhale.
Kathie Lee: You don’t sense the cynicism overall. It seems like an optimistic, joyful city. The thing that surprised me so much is how much of a cultural city it is, how much it’s supportive of the arts. There’s some great theater coming out of here.

And why see a musical about a “superstar evangelist”? What is it about Aimee Semple McPherson?
Kathie Lee: Nobody should be afraid of it. It’s not a religious musical any more than Sound of Music is about Catholicism. Aimee is a real, true woman of history. Time magazine named her one of the most influential people in the 20th century, so it seems a shame to me that we don’t know who that woman is. She was a feminist long before any of us had the vote. … If you put Oprah together with Madonna and Mother Teresa and 20 more, they would not be together what Aimee was alone in the 1920s.