— Usually, Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb open the fourth hour of TODAY by dishing about celebrities. But with Gifford taking some time off, her stand-in, “America’s Got Talent” judge Piers Morgan, ended up dishing about himself.
It started innocently enough with a question from Kotb about what Morgan did for the holidays.
“I had an amazing holiday. I did many crazy things. I got engaged,” the 44-year-old Morgan said as nonchalantly as he could.
When Kotb put on a face of mock dismay, Morgan quipped: “Don’t look so disappointed. There’s still time. I’m not actually married yet.”
Morgan’s fiancée is 33-year-old British gossip columnist Celia Walden. The couple have been dating for four years, according to Morgan’s Web site.
“I know what you’re all thinking: ‘How lucky is she?’ Right?” Morgan said with his signature lack of modesty.
Digging for details, Kotb asked Morgan how he popped the question. “You can tell a lot about a man by how he proposes,” she said.
Morgan happily obliged, revealing that he had been planning the proposal for two years, going back to the day he met Stevie Wonder in Los Angeles and enlisted the singer to help him out.
“I got him to record a proposal on video, so he actually talks directly out of the camera at Celia, compelling her to marry me,” Morgan said.
As it turned out, though, he didn’t use that video. Instead, he invited Walden for a romantic getaway last month for her birthday. Knowing that Walden’s favorite author is American novelist John Updike, he found that among Updike’s works was an obscure 1976 novel called “Marry Me” (although the contents of the book center on infidelity, Morgan just let the title do the talking).
Morgan told the rest of the story in headline form: “It’s her birthday. Took her to Paris for the weekend. Gave her the present. She opens the present. It’s a first edition of ‘Marry Me’ by her favorite author. There were tears.”
One thing that was missing? A ring.
Morgan said he did not give Walden a ring, remarking that would have made his proposal “cheesy.” But, he said, she is due to join him in New York this week, “so maybe we’ll get it in New York.”
Practicing with Paris
No date has been set for the wedding. In the meantime, the once-married Morgan showed video of a sort of practice wedding he took part in in Las Vegas. The video opens in a wedding chapel populated by a minister and two impersonators — Elvis and Marilyn Monroe.
The bride, a fit and shapely blonde with a lapdog in tow, walks into the picture and is first seen from behind. When she finally gets to the altar and turns to face Morgan, she turns out to be Paris Hilton. The couple exchange vows as Morgan puts a fake rock the size of Penn Station on her finger.
“We were making a documentary about Vegas, and I was trying to make the point people go there and do crazy things. Everyone’s dream can come true,” Morgan explained. “In that case, Paris’ dream came true.”
But not Walden’s. “My girlfriend hasn’t been talking to me since the Paris incident,” he joked.