Saturday, June 22, 2024

Billy Bush Negotiating Exit from ‘Today’; Publicists Threaten to Pull Clients if He Stays

Billy Bush and Donald Trump
Billy Bush and Donald Trump

*Suspended “Today” host Billy Bush – last seen in unearthed 2005 “Access Hollywood” video kee-keeing with Donald Trump over how easy it is for famous men to sexually assault women – may not ever return to NBC’s morning program.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Bush is currently negotiating his exit from NBC News after joining the program full-time just last month. The outlet also reports that he was scheduled to appear on “Today” to apologize on camera, but was suspended instead after female staffers demanded to know why he was not being punished.

Also…since the tape surfaced Friday via the Washington Post, NBC’s social media platforms have been overrun with negative comments from viewers, and Hollywood publicists are reportedly threatening to keep their clients away from “Today” if Bush remains.

On the tape, Bush is heard engaging in a lewd conversation with Trump about Nancy O’Dell, who was then Bush’s “Access Hollywood” co-host, as well as “Days Of Our Lives” actress Arianna Zucker. He also very clearly encourages Zucker to hug Trump and also asks Zucker for a “hug for the Bushie.”

Via THR:

Marcel Pariseau, a partner at True Public Relations, who has a number of high-profile female clients, including Scarlett Johansson, wrote on Facebook: “He was rude and lewd to a few female clients of mine. Boycotting the 9 a.m. hour of the Today show.”

When the tape leaked, one celebrity publicist told THR, “People who were already booked non the Today show were saying, ‘Maybe we should look at GMA or make sure it’s not him doing the interview.’ There are people who wouldn’t talk to him before the news. At Access, he was always ‘that guy.’ There were people who were anxious about him before he started [on Today].”

Hive Communication co-founder Bumble Ward, whose clients include Sofia Coppola and Mira Nair, wrote on her Facebook page: “At last year’s Oscars he was the only interviewer who was downright dismissive of my asking him, very politely, and before the rush of celebrities hit him, whether he’d like to speak to my (nominated) director client. He actually turned away with a roll of the eyes.”

Bush boasted about his lewd conversation with Trump as far back as last summer, THR has confirmed. PageSix reported Monday night that Bush talked up the Trump tape when he was in Rio for NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. But NBC News sources have stressed that news management did not learn about the existence of the tape until early last week, on Monday night or Tuesday morning. And they immediately began vetting it with in-house legal counsel to clear it for release. NBC News declined comment.

He issued an apology on Oct. 7, the day the tape became public. “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago — I was younger, less mature and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry,” he said in a statement.

But an initial plan to let him apologize again on the Today show this week was scuttled after the show’s predominantly female staff expressed outrage that he would not suffer any consequences. And by the evening of Oct. 9, less than two hours before the second presidential debate began, Today senior vp Noah Oppenheim sent an email to staffers informing them that Bush was suspended indefinitely.

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