Billy Bush Leaving ‘Access Hollywood’ For ‘Today,’ Will Go Head-To-Head Against Kelly Ripa And New Co-Host

Billy Bush is headed into the morning show wars. On the heels of Michael Strahan’s move from Live to Good Morning America, Bush will reportedly exit Access Hollywood to take a spot on the Today show this fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. A formal announcement about Billy Bush’s move to the Today show is expected to be made at NBC’s annual upfront presentation in New York on May 16.

Billy Bush has been in serious talks with NBC since last fall and, unlike Strahan’s recent situation with Disney-ABC, his impending move to Today has been out in the open on the set of Access Hollywood. Bush’s move from Los Angeles to New York is already in the works.

Despite NBC’s lack of official comment on the Billy Bush move, THR reports that the seasoned entertainment reporter and longtime NBC contributor is slated to be a key figure in a revamped Today 9 a.m. timeslot, which is currently helmed by Willie Geist, Tamron Hall, Natalie Morales, and Al Roker. While the Today show already beats GMA in crucial demographics, its 9 a.m. hour is its weak link, and that is the timeslot in which Today competes against Live in many markets.

The news about Billy Bush could greatly affect ABC’s talent search for Strahan’s job. When Kelly Ripa made her return to Live this week after a nearly week-long absence, she announced to viewers that ABC has promised that her show will be a priority for the network. Strahan was originally supposed to stay onboard Live through the summer, but it was just announced that he will exit May 13. There is no word when Ripa’s new co-host will start on Live, but whoever he or she is, they will likely have entertainment powerhouse Billy Bush to compete against.

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This is not the first time Billy Bush has been the subject of a Today show move. Last month, rumors about the move surfaced and a source told Page Six that Bush “could possibly take a bigger role” at Today after the current season of his Access show end in September.

“Billy is still under contract to Access, but it’s possible that he could take a bigger role at Today later this year,” an insider said. “If it happens, and it looks very possible, Billy would probably appear later on Today in the 9 a.m. hour, but also contribute entertainment and celebrity reports throughout the show.”

According to Us Weekly, Bush is not renewing his contract with Access Hollywood because he feels his time at the syndicated news magazine has “run its course.” While some sources say Bush will replace Geist, who has been named anchor of Today Sunday, others say Billy will be brought in as a new addition to the current co-hosts and not as a replacement.

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Billy Bush, whose father is the younger brother of 41st U.S. President George H.W. Bush, actually started out as a Today in New York correspondent, but he moved to Access Hollywood 15 years ago. Bush has been a co-anchor on the show since 2004, and in 2010, he began work on a daytime spinoff, Access Hollywood Live, co-hosted by Road Rules alum Kit Hoover. Bush has also long contributed to NBC’s Olympic Games coverage, so he will most surely be involved in the network’s coverage of the Rio games later this summer.

Take a look at the video below to see Billy Bush going head-to-head with Nancy Grace on Access Hollywood.

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