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I tend to have Entertainment Tonight on in the background most nights, and the Friday, August 2 show seemed normal until the final few minutes. Then Nancy O'Dell and co-host Kevin Frazier addressed the cameras. Nancy revealed a big surprise to viewers -- she was leaving her job right then and there after nearly nine years with ET. There had been no prior announcements.
Tonight, I’m excited to tell you about the start of a new chapter in my life. A new chapter for this small-town, grateful girl from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, who used to watch fellow Carolinian Leeza Gibbons and Mary Hart on Entertainment Tonight thinking, ‘Wow, what beautiful, powerful women and what a cool job they have!’ … to now having that job for nine years and being a veteran host on the red carpet for almost 25 years.
Nancy O’Dell added that a dear friend suggested she make a life list, writing down career milestones on one side and what she still wants to accomplish on the other. She talked about the "near embarrassment of riches" of the first list, including being chosen as the host to step into the shoes of the legendary Mary Hart.
As I take on that list of things still to come, it means leaving this position, but it does not mean I am leaving the genre. I’ll be back and it won’t be long. I’m going to enjoy some time off with the most wonderful gal in my life, my daughter, because they grow up way too fast. She is always my priority and then I’ll focus on my new project.
Nancy O'Dell shared her full statement after her sign-off, via an Instagram post (click to her second slide to read her full statement) :
Kevin Frazier shared a version of the same photo on his Instagram, adding this caption and a heart emoji:
From Charleston to Hollywood, we have shared lots of good times, a few tough times and plenty of magical moments... thank you @nancyodell for letting me be a part of your journey ...
ET Executive Producer Erin Johnson shared a statement after Nancy O'Dell's departure:
For almost nine years, Nancy has welcomed viewers to ET every night with her signature southern charm. From anchoring both royal weddings, gracing every major award show red carpet and interviewing the likes of Garth Brooks, JLo and Oprah, her expertise behind the microphone is undeniable. We can’t thank Nancy enough for her dedication to keeping ET the gold standard in entertainment news and we have no doubt she will continue to succeed in all future endeavors.
It's not clear yet who'll replace Nancy O'Dell, although some viewers have already spoken out to say they'd like to see correspondent Keltie Knight promoted, since she and Kevin Frazier have a fun banter. (Fun fact: Before she joined The Insider and then ET, Keltie was a professional dancer and also a contestant on Brad Womack's second season of The Bachelor.)
This is a time of change in the TV anchor/host world. Sara Gilbert just had her own tearful goodbye from The View, but at least fans knew that was coming. Nancy O'Dell's departure was more of a last minute surprise at the end of a Friday show. Back in April, Kathie Lee Gifford left the TODAY show after 11 years as co-host with Hoda Kotb.
Mario Lopez announced he's leaving Extra and heading over to Access Hollywood. Longtime Extra host A.J. Calloway also left the show, in his case after sexual misconduct allegations. He was suspended in February and an investigation was launched, with his departure recently announced. Meanwhile, Billy Bush -- who used to co-host Access Hollywood with Nancy O'Dell -- is returning to TV after his infamous Donald Trump interview, hosting a new syndicated entertainment news show this fall called Extra Extra.