For about three years, Billy Bush has listened, apologized and explained. Now he’s doing the talking.
“It’s a relaunch. It’s a comeback,” he said of his new celebrity newsmagazine, “Extra,” slated to debut next week. It’s a retooling of Warner Brothers’ long-running series, which is moving over to Fox-owned stations in seven major U.S. markets, including New York and Los Angeles. Bush will head an on-air team eager to push past the morning headlines and find new developments and late-breaking stories for the early-evening crowd interested in all that glitters in Hollywood.
“I have a real interest in the story being correct,” said Bush, talking to a crowd gathered at an event held at New York’s Hudson Yards to celebrate the launch. “The truth is important.”
Bush said he comes to the new show with a new set of “tools,” empathy being among them. He knows what it’s like to be the one reading the headlines rather than the one delivering them. In the fall of 2016, just before the presidential election, an old tape featuring an outtake from NBCUniversal’s “Access Hollywood” surfaced. It showed Bush engaging in rough banter with real-estate mogul Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, on a bus chartered by the show. In the tape, Trump boasted of his ability to sexually harass and assault women due to his celebrity status. In the conversation, Bush appeared to egg him on.
Judgement was swift – for Bush. Trump went on to win the White House. Bush lost a new job he had co-anchoring the third hour of NBC’s “Today.” Bush said he spent his time trying to work things out, and the experience will make him a better host. “I care about people’s well-being,” he said. He’s also maintained the contacts he has developed over the course of his career. Whenever he interviewed someone, Bush always made sure to get a phone contact.
He’s moving on from the bus. “You can ask me about the bus. You can ask me about whatever – until Monday. After that, I’m never going to speak about it.”