UPDATE, 8:05 PM: “Entertainment Tonight” has now confirmed this story to Variety.
“Entertainment Tonight” host Nancy O’ Dell will be in the host chair on Monday, Variety has learned exclusively.
It is not clear whether O’Dell will address the Donald Trump and Billy Bush video, in which she was identified as the woman being spoken about in the vulgar 2005 conversation that surfaced this past Friday, causing a media firestorm and swift fallout for both the GOP presidential candidate and Bush, who was then O’Dell’s co-host on “Access Hollywood.”
A spokesperson for “Entertainment Tonight” declined to comment on O’Dell’s status for Monday’s show, but a source tells Variety she will “absolutely” be hosting.
On Saturday, O’Dell broke her silence, releasing a statement via “ET Online,” making no mention of Trump nor Bush.
“Politics aside, I’m saddened that these comments still exist in our society at all. When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women,” O’Dell’s statement read.
Meanwhile, Bush has been suspended from the “Today” show, pending review.
Bush being suspended from “Today” comes after much much back-and-forth on NBC’s part to determine what to do with the anchor — Variety first reported NBC was mulling over the decision this morning, and later today, Bush was sidelined from Monday’s show. Then, moments ago, came the decision to suspend him. The suspension comes after overwhelming social media reaction this weekend from commenters saying they will no longer watch the NBC morning show if Bush is not fired.
With Bush banned from “Today” and O’Dell returning to business as usual, following a weekend-long frenzy, news shows are struggling with how to cover a story — when they are the story.
A media expert suggest that O’Dell should address the Trump/Bush tape on Monday night’s show and then move on. Another insider close to the show tells Variety that plans to cover the story going forward are in flux, as “ET” will remain respectful to O’Dell.
For Bush, the issue is deeper. Should “Today” bring him back on, how are viewers expected to watch him discuss the election, without being distracted by his lewd association with Trump?
Aside from talent, the larger news organization is also in a pickle. NBC News was one of the first outlets to cover the video, despite being the employer of Bush, both with “Today” and his near 15 years on “Access Hollywood.”
A spokesperson for NBC News released a statement today, noting that the company’s priority is to cover newsworthy stories. The statement reads: “NBC News did exactly what you would expect from a great news organization. As soon as we saw the tape and made the assessment it was undoubtedly newsworthy, we moved quickly and deliberately to get it published and to do so in the most responsible way.”
“Access Hollywood” will also struggle to cover the story, given their longterm relationship with Bush. On Friday’s broadcast, shortly after the video surfaced, new “Access” host Natalie Morales opened the show with a package about the video, briefly mentioning Bush and identifying O’Dell, who formerly co-hosted the entertainment news show.