Bush Bash at Oscars

Jan 31, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Bush Bash at Oscars

Mean ol’ Billy Bush bashers had best be sitting down. The Insider hears that the whirling-dervishlike “Access Hollywood” co-anchor will be back cutting a bright red rug when he reprises last year’s performance as co-host of the motion picture academy-sanctioned Oscars pre-show at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, on ABC. The Insider also hears that Mr. Bush will be joined by, among others, “Access Hollywood” colleague Shaun Robinson on the pre-show.

Nancy O’Dell represented “Access” Jan. 16 on NBC’s Golden Globes pre-show, when “Today” weatherman Al Roker ably filled in for ailing co-host and executive producer Dick Clark.

Sources familiar with the motion picture academy’s preference for red-carpet hosts who are exclusive to the Oscars say Mr. Bush already had agreed to the Oscar gig, his second in a row, before the Golden Globe Awards ceremony was broadcast.

Decaffing Chernin

Scenes from the hall outside the Fox affiliates meeting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas:

News Corp. President and Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin returns from a long break carrying a large Starbucks cup. When The Insider asks if the coffee inside the meeting room isn’t up to snuff, Mr. Chernin explains that he is cutting down on caffeine. He’s now on green tea, which is considered very healthy, partly because he is bent on living forever and partly because of his Calvinist streak. It was either cut the caffeine or don a hair shirt, says Mr. Chernin.

The News Corp. executive, who also has given up his tie but not his well-tailored suit and pale-blue shirt for the Saturday meeting, later comes back out of the ballroom to greet one of the day’s speakers, Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.

The senator takes one look at the elegantly casual Mr. Chernin and protests: “They told me I had to wear a tie!”

Meanwhile, as the affiliates and most Fox executives huddle in Las Vegas, where temperatures were in the sunny 60s, Fox Sports Television Group Chairman David Hill speaks via satellite from snowbound, subfreezing and windy Philadelphia on an outdoor set enclosed by plastic on three sides.

Mr. Hill clearly has been sacked by a cold, but he perseveres through the conversation with the affiliates, that afternoon’s NFC Championship Game and the subsequent trek south to Jacksonville, Fla., site of Fox’s Super Bowl broadcast this Sunday.

When The Insider, who shares with Mr. Hill a fondness for Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs & Englishmen,” inquires after his health days later, she is told: “He’s still quite under the weather but trudging through.”

The Ferguson Watch

Why The Insider is losing sleep since Craig Ferguson debuted Jan. 3 as host of “The Late Late Show” on CBS:

Among Mr. Ferguson’s guests Jan. 14 were the hosts of AMC’s “Shootout,” Variety Editor in Chief Peter Bart and film producer Peter Guber.

Well into the conversation with the two Peters, whose flops were not going unmentioned, Mr. Bart turned on Mr. Ferguson, whose Scottish accent and sweetly tart sense of humor generally disarm people. “You would pronounce ‘Variety’ better if we gave you better reviews,” Mr. Bart said.

Faster than a groggy viewer could say “instant message,” Mr. Ferguson replied: “You know what they say. There are two things of no use in life: the pope’s testicles and a good review in Variety.”