Former Access Hollywood and Today Show co-host Billy Bush is making his return to television. The television personality was fired from the Today Show in 2016 due to the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood tape of his highly inappropriate conversation on a bus with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking of physically groping women. After his ousting, Bush faded from the spotlight with his career in a shambles.
Now, Bush is manning the desk again at the revamped entertainment news program Extra and is hopeful that his career – and reputation – will have a positive revival.
Billy Bush | Gary Gershoff/Getty Images
The life-changing tape
According to AOL, Bush recently spoke to BUILD Series on heading the reboot of Extra, re-titled ExtraExtra. Naturally, the subject of the tape of his conversation with Trump, which Bush sarcastically refers to as the ‘beloved’ tape, was brought up. The talk show host described how one of the main responsibilities in his job at Access Hollywood was to spend time with Trump, who at the time was pulling in major ratings for NBC with The Apprentice.
“Back in the day, when that beloved tape was made [it] was 2005 and [Trump] was the number one star on NBC making a hundred million dollars in profit for the network and I’m the entertainment guy. So they’re like ‘Bush, you’re with him three days a week if you can,’” Bush revealed. “As much as possible because he doesn’t travel with a publicist and he says things that other celebrities are too guarded to say. So [Trump’s], like, the highest rated guy and he’s a jackpot with everything he says because he’s a provocateur. So I was with him all the time.”
Bush clearly had to stay on his toes during his interactions with Trump. “He talks at you. Here’s one thing you never hear from him — ‘Hey, how’s the kids?’” Bush said. “It’s a constant, you know, it’s like… you’re an astronaut, you’re in the capsule and asteroids are coming at you and you’re trying to maneuver this thing to get around the asteroids,” he joked. “That’s how I would equate an interview, you know, back then with him.”
The former Today Show host recalled the first time he heard the now infamous tape. “It was awful. And my participation was awful, too.” Bush told the Hollywood Reporter of his own behavior. “It was my first year as co-host of Access Hollywood, and I was an insecure person, a bit of a pleaser, wanting celebrities to like me and fit in… But I went way too far in my desire to keep this No. 1 star happy.”
On interviewing Trump again
When asked if he would go one-on-one with now-President Trump, Bush didn’t shy away from the suggestion. “I wouldn’t lead with him, you know what I mean. I’m happy to put some distance in there,” Bush said, according to AOL. “But at some point I would. I’m interested in people who are in positions of power and how they handle it. I’d interview him because I’m a concerned American, you know?”
Bush is planning on interviewing celebrities who have been in scandalous situations since he has first-hand experience on how the narrative can get out of control. “I’ve already connected with several people I’m watching right now getting the flogging and the public shaming and the cancel culture and all that,” he said, according to ABC News. “I’m the first one to reach out and say, ‘you know you’re in good hands with me.’ It’s not that I’m going to nurture you. But I am going to be extremely fair and empathetic of the human condition, which is that we’re all hard-wired for good and evil and we’re not at our best sometimes.”
What Bush won’t discuss anymore
Bush is looking forward to getting back to his native roots of entertainment news. “They call it ‘the comeback,’” he said, as reported by USA Today. “You can give it any name you want to call it, but you’re obviously coming from something, and it’s that.”
The new ExtraExtra host has television producer Lisa Gregorisch-Dempsey to thank for giving him his second chance. “He really was very thoughtful about working on himself and improving himself, and he sort of went to the depths of where a person could go,” she said, according to ABC News. “He did the work and brought himself back and his new perspective is quite refreshing.”
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One thing Bush is setting a boundary on is the legendary Access tape conversation. “Let me be totally straight. This week, have at it. Any question you want. As soon as I go on the air next Monday night, never again. That’s it,” Bush said. “I’m just going to politely say, ‘If that’s on your agenda, I’m not going to participate if it’s okay.’ But this week, of course. You can ask me about the bus. You can ask me about whatever – until Monday. After that, I’m never going to speak about it.”
Watch Billy Bush on the premiere of ExtraExtra on September 9!