It was early but expected.
The announcement in June that Billy Bush would take the co-anchor position on NBC Universal’s newsmagazine “Access Hollywood” surprised few in industry circles as the onetime correspondent steps up to the center ring. From here on out, however, Mr. Bush says to expect the unexpected.
“I’m a little nervous,” he said shortly before heading to Greece to officially join fellow co-anchor Nancy O’Dell at the Olympics. “But this job is not brain surgery. I’ve been doing this for a while and I know that a lot of people overdo and overthink the job. The key to making it work is to find that unexpected moment that gives audiences a chance to look into people’s lives.”
He credits “Access” executive producer Rob Silverstein with the direction of his career, noting that when he started working on the syndicated strip as East Coast correspondent in December 2001 he was “a little raw.”
“Let’s face it, I sucked so hard when I began, I was doing terrible interviews and just wasn’t delivering,” he said. “That’s when Rob stepped up and explained that the show was about memorable moments with these celebrities. I thought about that and decided to let myself be me. It was easy after that, and my best interviews end up being celebrities who get that.”
Among the celebrities he lists as knowing how to leave an impression is Ben Affleck, with whom he once took race cars through a drive-though window in an impulsive move. “He lets his personality go and unleashes it when we put the camera on him. He understands what this is all about.”
Co-anchor Ms. O’Dell is quick to point out the similarities and differences between Mr. Bush and former “Access” anchor Pat O’Brien. “I heard a couple of months ago that there might be a changing of the guard, and although I’m sad to see Pat go, Billy has always added a lot to the show, and I’m really thrilled and excited to be working with him,” she said. “Billy is young, cute and hip and adds that extra edge to the show.”
Ms. O’Dell noted that the two men offer similar styles of reporting. “Both have a lot of fun, and both don’t take Hollywood too seriously.”
Mr. Bush began his career hosting the afternoon drive show on WLKZ-FM in Wolfeboro, N.H., later he moved to Washington, where he hosted the midday show on WARW-FM. Beginning in March 1997 he hosted “Billy Bush and the Bush League Morning Show” before appearing as a guest correspondent for Telepictures’ newsmagazine “Extra” and later as a correspondent for WNBC-TV’s “Today in New York.”
He recently co-hosted the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and enjoys that interaction with audiences.
“I could see myself doing a chat show at 10 in the morning on top of co-anchoring here at `Access.’ That’s something I’ve always wanted to do and something we’re capable of doing at the studio,” he said. “But then again, you never know where things will go. That’s what makes it fun.”