Billy Bush may be en route to his TV comeback, two years after getting the hook from the third hour of NBC News’ Today.
Bush has had conversations with executives surrounding Extra about joining the syndicated entertainment newsmag, sources said, as the program prepares to make a major station move. Two weeks ago it was announced Extra had been acquired by Fox Television Stations in seven major markets; the transition in those markets from NBC to Fox stations in various markets is set for fall 2019.
At the time the deal was announced, Frank Cicha, SVP Programming at Fox TV Stations, said there would be “great opportunities” for Extra to “work with our news department as well.”
Cleared in 93% of the country for fall 2019, Extra will join the FTS lineups in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Orlando and Charlotte. The series already is airing on Fox O&O’s in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Detroit.
It’s been about a year since Bush began his career resuscitation, guesting on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, hours after the New York Times published his op-ed piece insisting it is in fact Donald Trump’s voice in the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood bus-ride tape, boasting about being so famous he can grab women “by the p*ssy” with impunity.
That op-ed opportunity came to Bush compliments of Trump, after POTUS started telling some people in private, including at least one member of the U.S. Senate, that he does not think it is his voice on the tape. That was back when Trump saying things he knew to be untrue was considered big news.
The longtime Access Hollywood host very briefly was a Today host for NBC News; he was sacked not long after the Washington Post made public the tawdry Access Hollywood tape that NBC News had, but sat on.
In his op-ed piece, titled, “Yes, Donald Trump, You Said That,” Bush wrote, “Of course he said it. And we laughed along, without a single doubt that this was hypothetical hot air from America’s highest-rated bloviator.”
Seven more men were on the bus at the time, Bush said, “and every single one of us assumed we were listening to a crass stand-up act. He was performing. Surely, we thought, none of this was real. We now know better.”
The cousin of 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush attempted to explain his behavior at the time: “In 2005, I was in my first full year as a co-anchor of the show Access Hollywood on NBC. Mr. Trump, then on The Apprentice, was the network’s biggest star.”
“The key to succeeding in my line of work was establishing a strong rapport with celebrities. I did that, and was rewarded for it,” Bush said, crediting his segments with Trump when he was a correspondent, calling it “part of the reason I got promoted.”
“Was I acting out of self-interest? You bet I was. Was I alone? Far from it. With Mr. Trump’s outsized viewership back in 2005, everybody from Billy Bush on up to the top brass on the 52nd floor had to stroke the ego of the big cash cow along the way to higher earnings.”
News of Bush’s talks to join Extra first was reported by The Blast.