Billy Bush Returns to Red Carpet 3 Years After 'Access Hollywood' Tape Scandal

Billy Bush - Getty - H 2019
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The new 'Extra' host generated buzz as he arrived outside of Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater, where he told The Hollywood Reporter that he's excited but nervous to be back.

New Extra host Billy Bush continued his comeback Sunday with a high-profile return to the 2019 Emmy Awards.

Bush was stationed with his colleagues on Extra's platform on the purple carpet as the stars were set to arrive.

The Hollywood Reporter's Chris Gardner, who was on the scene at L.A.'s Microsoft Theater reported there was "big buzz" for Bush's first carpet appearance in a number of years.

Bush told Gardner that he's excited but nervous to be back, admitting that he doesn't "know any of the nominees."

"Things have changed," Bush said about his years away from the Emmys red carpet. "Sofia Vergara is gone. Bryan Cranston is here, right? Game of Thrones — not fully caught up. I'm ready to butcher some names."

Beyond that, Bush said he was looking forward to seeing his former colleagues from his years at Access Hollywood, adding "I get emotional." And he was hoping to see stars like Cranston, Michael Douglas and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

While he said being on the carpet was his "natural habitat," he was surprised that the color of the rug changed.

His former colleagues gave Bush an enthusiastic response, Gardner reported.

The Extra job, announced in May, is Bush's first hosting gig since he left NBC's Today show after the infamous Access Hollywood audio leaked of him talking with then-Apprentice host Donald Trump.

While there was speculation prior to Bush landing his Extra job that stars might not talk to him given the Access Hollywood scandal, a number of Emmys guests stopped to chat with him, according to Extra's Twitter feed. Bush was spotted talking to Michael Kelly, Patricia Arquette, Padma Lakshmi, James Van Der Beek, Laverne Cox, Taraji P. Henson, Barry actors Anthony Carrigan and Sarah Goldberg, Better Call Saul actors Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, and This Is Us actors Chris Sullivan, Sterling K. Brown and Milo Ventimiglia.

Bush was let go from Today in 2016 shortly after audio emerged of him and then-presidential candidate Trump talking on the Access Hollywood bus in 2005. In the footage, obtained and published by The Washington Post a month before the 2016 election, Trump was heard bragging about kissing women without their permission and, most memorably, grabbing "them by the pussy." Bush could be heard laughing and egging the then-Apprentice star on as Trump bragged about sexual assault.

Bush and Trump both apologized, but the president went on to famously dismiss his comments as "locker room talk."

Bush was suspended and ultimately let go from Today shortly after the tape emerged, before Trump won the November 2016 election.

In his first extended interview since the scandal, with THR in May of 2017, Bush called the prior seven months, "a roller coaster."

"If you start from the day everything happened, Friday, Oct.?7, it was just instant shock. Things were happening way too fast, and a media circus developed," he said. "I've never been the type that the paparazzi would be interested in. So that early part was just chaos. But then things progressed, and when you have a big, traumatic event, you go through stages, and it led to acceptance and understanding. And then I found myself in a place of soul searching. And I developed a commitment to become a better, fuller man."

He added of the infamous Trump conversation, which took place when the real estate mogul was a star for NBC, "Looking back on what was said on that bus, I wish I had changed the topic.... I didn't have the strength of character to do it."

Extra, it was announced in December 2018, is moving from its longtime home on NBC owned-and-operated stations to Fox in seven major markets, starting in the fall.

Fox will air the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards live at 8 pm ET on Sunday night.

4:08 p.m.: Updated with stars who spoke to Bush on the Emmys purple carpet.

6:59 p.m.: Updated with more from Gardner's interview with Bush.

Additional reporting by Chris Gardner