Entertainment-news anchor Billy Bush will join NBC’s “Today” in its nine o’clock hour, the latest maneuver by the network to keep its morning franchise competitive and expand its heft beyond its core 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. broadcast.
He is expected to start his tenure on the program in August, during NBC’s coverage of the Rio Olympics.
Bush “brings boundless energy, a great interviewing style and a deep knowledge of pop culture,” said Noah Oppenheim, the NBC News executive who oversees “Today,” in a memo to staffers. “During 15 years as host of ‘Access Hollywood,’ and 6 years as co-host of ‘Access Live,’ Billy has covered and interviewed literally everyone in Hollywood.”
Bush, a nephew of President George H.W. Bush and a cousin to George W. Bush, spent several years as a radio host before moving to television as a freelancer at NBCUniversal’s New York oulet WNBC. He has been a contributor to “Today” in the past. He joins an hour that is in flux, as NBC has suggested that it is considering new directions for the slot. Natalie Morales, who has been a mainstay on that program for several years, is leaving it to take on hosting duties at “Access Hollywood.” Willie Geist, another regular at 9 a.m., recently started hosting a retooled version of “Sunday Today.”
In his memo, Oppenheim described the 9 a.m. hour as “a compelling and competitive hour focused on lifestyle and entertainment.”
The third hour of “Today” in many markets vies directly with ABC’s syndicated “Live,” hosted by Kelly Ripa. That show is also in the midst of transformation, owing to the Walt Disney network’s decision to move co-host Michael Strahan to “Good Morning America,”on a full-time basis.