It's Official: Billy Bush Joins NBC's 'Today' Show

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With Natalie Morales heading to 'Access Hollywood,' the 9 a.m. hour of the morning franchise will come in for a revamp.

Billy Bush has been tapped to join NBC's morning news franchise, the Today show. The announcement came Tuesday morning from Noah Oppenheim, NBC News' svp and executive in charge of Today. At long last, the worst-kept secret in TV news is official.

Network executives had at one point intended to make the announcement at NBC's star-packed upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, May 16. But inserting Bush was deemed too unwieldy in an already crowded presentation that included NBC, Telemundo, 15 cable networks and myriad digital assets.

Bush, who is in the process of exiting Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, will play an integral role in the show's 9 a.m. hour. Veteran Today anchor Natalie Morales, who was among the co-hosts of that hour along with Tamron Hall, Al Roker and Willie Geist, has already been tapped as host of the NBCUniversal infotainment properties. That announcement came May 4 in an internal memo from Oppenheim. Morales will continue to appear across the Today franchise but will be based in L.A. as the show's West Coast correspondent.

And Geist last month began hosting a revamped Sunday version of Today while still appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. The 9 a.m. hour of Today is seen as the weakest link in the four-hour morning franchise. The flagship 7-9 a.m. block — co-anchored by Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer — is beating ABC's Good Morning America this season in the critical 25-54 demographic, a source of renewed pride for NBC's news division after the network's morning show lagged behind GMA since 2012. The ABC morning show still bests Today among total viewers. And the frothy 10 a.m. hour co-hosted by Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford also continues to perform well. 

The 9 a.m. hour of Today competes with ABC's syndicated Live in many markets. And that show recently saw Kelly Ripa's co-host Michael Strahan make a somewhat messy exit for a full-time gig at GMA beginning this fall. It should be noted that Ripa and Strahan had repaired their on-air relationship — and even won a daytime Emmy award — by the time Strahan co-hosted his last show May 13. 

Meanwhile this summer, NBC's Today will get a huge ratings shot in the arm with the Rio Summer Olympics, which kick off Aug. 5 and run for 17 days. And Bush will be on hand for the Games along with the rest of the Today team. 

Read Oppenheim's full staff memo below.
 
Hi Everyone —
 
I’m excited to share official word that Billy Bush is coming to Today.  He’ll join the current 9a anchors as [co-executive producer] Tammy [Filler] and her team continue to build a compelling and competitive hour focused on lifestyle and entertainment.
 
Billy has been a part of the Today extended family for quite some time — he brings boundless energy, a great interviewing style and a deep knowledge of pop culture. During 15 years as host of Access Hollywood, and 6 years as co-host of Access Live, Billy has covered and interviewed literally everyone in Hollywood. Following an early start in radio, Billy broke into TV as a freelancer on WNBC. He credits his very first segment, involving a painful chest-waxing incident (well before Steve Carell) with him getting the full-time gig.

You’ll start to see Billy on the show during the Olympics in August. Please join Tammy and me in welcoming Billy to Today!
 
Noah

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