Just a little over a year since signing off as lead anchor of “Entertainment Tonight,” Nancy O’Dell is returning to television as a special contributor for People magazine’s upcoming entertainment news show “People (the TV Show).”
“People is such an incredible and prestigious brand as well as a valuable and trusted brand,” O’Dell told Variety during an exclusive interview on Tuesday night. “When I heard they were doing a TV show, I was like, ‘Gosh, that sounds pretty cool.’”
Instead of coming back as a show host, the 54-year-old Myrtle Beach native will now head the “Nancy O’Dell Interview,” which will be reserved for sit-downs with A-list celebrities. “I’ll get to interview some of the people that I’ve grown to know and love while being in the business for 25 years,” she said.
O’Dell’s first interview, an exclusive (and socially distanced) visit with Garth Brooks at his Nashville recording studios while he and Trisha Yearwood recorded a cover of “Shallow” from “A Star Is Born,” will coincide with the show’s launch on Sept. 14 and 15.
“Some of the other interviews which I’m really excited about and I have coming up, they’ve already said, ‘Can we do them via Zoom?’ And I said, ‘Of course,'” O’Dell said. “But for Garth and Trisha, if you’re going to be reporting on them doing a recording of ‘Shallow’ together, you want to be there in person in the recording studio.”
“People (the TV Show)” will air on parent company Meredith Corporation’s 12 local broadcast television markets as well as stream on People.com and the PeopleTV app.
Before spending nine years at “Entertainment Tonight,” O’Dell was with “Access Hollywood” for 13 years. “People” marks a reunion for her and former “Access” boss Rob Silverstein, now executive producer of “People.”
O’Dell said the selling point for her new position was the ability to continue a more manageable life-work balance for her and her 13-year-old daughter.
“This role could not be more perfect for me,” she said. “When I left ‘ET,’ there was a lot going on in my personal life, including getting divorced. I really wanted to be there and spend a lot more time with my daughter, who’s always going to be my No. 1 priority. When I was getting ready to accept this position and I told her about it, I said, ‘Listen, it’s not five days a week. Mommy can pick and choose.’ She said, ‘Okay, good, because I really like you taking me to school every day and picking me up like you do.”
While the show kicks off in the heat of the presidential election, O’Dell said she is not aiming to interview politicians, although she expects to address current events and political issues with her celebrity guests.
During the 2016 election, O’Dell unexpectedly found herself caught up in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape leak when it was revealed that she was the unidentified woman who Donald Trump was heard making lewd comments about while talking to O’Dell’s former “Access” co-host Billy Bush.
Looking back at the four years since then, O’Dell said, “I think that the biggest thing that I would say to everybody is to go out and vote. It’s so important to have a voice. It gave me a moment to talk about the importance of everybody deserving respect, no matter the setting, no matter the gender. Whether you’re talking about gender or race, everybody deserves respect. And so I think, having gone through that, it can make me understand and feel some of what is going on today a little bit more than I would have if I didn’t go through it.”