Nancy O’Dell is leaving her perch as co-host of Entertainment Tonight after nearly a decade with the syndicated entertainment newsmagazine. The veteran showbiz journalist made the announcement at the end of today’s broadcast.
“Tonight, I’m excited to tell you about the start of a new chapter in my life,” she began. “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.”
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O’Dell went on to say a friend suggested she make a “life list” by putting her career milestones on one side, and what she still wants to accomplish on the other.
“The first list contains a near embarrassment of riches for me; like being chosen as the host to step into the shoes of the legendary Mary Hart, what an honor, then the people, all the celebrities who have let me into their private worlds, many becoming good friends, and getting to work with so many wonderful and talented people here. I wish I had the time to list names because so many will forever be in my heart, like you, KFray [longtime co-host Kevin Frazier],” she said.
The red carpet veteran said she plans to continue working in the genre and will spend more time with her family.
“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,” she explained. “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.”
“My manager/agent and dear friend of 20 years, John Ferriter, helped me get this job at ET. He passed away just a week ago. Shortly before his passing, he told me life is too short, do what makes you happy, you’re creating your own best life. I think I’ve heard Oprah say that too… two smart people… but I’m proud to have this show as part of my story.”
She went on to dedicate her final broadcast to Ferriter.
“This last signoff is for you, John, and for all the viewers whom I have an unbreakable bond with from our daily chance to talk all things entertainment. That bond will never change,” she said. “So, it’s not goodbye, but rather just turning the page to the next chapter.”
In a statement, ET executive producer Erin Johnson praised O’Dell for her “dedication” to the series.
“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,” Johnson said. “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 unclear who will be tapped to replace O’Dell, whose departure from CBS Television Distribution’s ET comes amid a sea change in the genre.
Mario Lopez is leaving Extra, and starting in September he’ll join Kit Hoover and Scott Evans as host of Access Hollywood and its daytime counterpart, Access Daily (formerly Access Live).
Meanwhile three years after exiting NBC’s Today, Billy Bush will anchor a revamped version of the syndicated Extra. The show was acquired by Fox Television Stations in seven major markets, and moves in those markets from NBC to Fox in fall 2019. The new version is titled Extra Extra.
O’Dell and Bush used to co-host Access Hollywood together.