Few people in the entertainment industry have a story that comes close to rivaling that of Billy Bush, the former Today host whose career was derailed following the release of the controversial Access Hollywood recording that contained Donald Trump's now-infamous claim about grabbing women's genitalia. Somewhat strangely, Bush remained virtually silent after the recording went public and made national headlines, but he's finally come clean about anything and everything involving the tape, his lack of response and, as is pertinent to the story at hand, which of his former co-hosts at Today and Access Hollywood reached out to him.
A lot of people. From the Today show, Tamron [Hall], Hoda [Kotb] and Kathie Lee [Gifford], Matt [Lauer], Savannah [Guthrie], Al Roker. Everyone from Access Hollywood. I got a wonderful handwritten letter from Suzanne Somers. I got a great letter from Cindy Crawford. Kate Walsh and Julie Bowen reached out. They were all supportive --- 'We know the real you.'
Considering Billy Bush's time with Today was immediately cut short following the news of the tape's existence, it had to be pretty comforting to the on-air personality to get positive feedback from anyone at the time. NBC suspended him at first and soon basically forced him to resign, and all without giving him an opportunity to apologize on the air. Combined with his lack of response beyond an initial remorseful statement, the absence of a Today-set reaction played a big part in the public's opinion of Bush in the weeks and months following his ousting, with many railing on him for playing along with what Donald Trump later called "locker room" talk.
So yeah, it probably felt pretty great for Billy Bush to hear from Today vets like Tamron Hall, who was his co-host at the time, and Matt Lauer. He was only a part of the crew for around two months, and in that short time, he'd already been at the center of two other mini-controversies: one involving his soft-balled interview with Olympian Ryan Lochte before it was revealed he'd lied about being robbed in Rio de Janeiro, and then a related one where he and Al Roker got into an on-air argument over Lochte's confession. Not exactly the prime situation that warrants warm words from co-workers.
It's easy to understand why all (or at least most) of Billy Bush's former Access Hollywood colleagues would show signs of support, since he was part of that celeb-embracing universe for around 14 years (with the infamous tape recording happening back in 2005). Plus, several of the stars that Bush became familiar with over the years also sent him positivity regarding the controversy, such as Julie Bowen and Suzanne Somers. Not exactly the best scenario to get a letter from Cindy Crawford, but it's not something everyone can say they've received.
But for all the people's kind and thoughtful responses that Billy Bush confirmed, things might have played out quite differently with his former Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O'Dell. As you might recall, O'Dell was the married woman that Donald Trump was talking about during the recording when he said he "moved on her and failed." Here's the non-candid way Bush described to THR the extent of his back-and-forth about the extent of his relationship with O'Dell.
I recently sent her a communication, yeah. I need to keep that between me and Nancy.
It doesn't exactly sound like paradise, but then not a lot of paradise-worthy situations could really come from the release of such a recording. Billy Bush is indeed planning a return to TV at some point to get back into interviewing people, but we'll have to wait and see what becomes of that. In the meantime, head to our summer TV schedule to see all the new and returning shows hitting primetime in the coming months.