'Access Hollywood' Renewed for Three Years Amid Staff Pay Cuts (Exclusive)

The entertainment magazine show Access Hollywood has been renewed for at least three more seasons and companion show Access Hollywood Live has been set for at least one more season — but some of the show’s production staff are grumbling over most employees' salaries being cut.

The pay cuts, which sources said were announced to staff on Monday, range from 10 percent to 20 percent per employee. They follow layoffs a week ago, when 14 full and part-time staff were let go in a cost-cutting move.

Sources said that longtime director Kim Anastasia will also be leaving the show at the end of the upcoming May sweeps period; but a source close to the show insisted that the departure was a voluntary decision on her part.

Owner Comcast/NBCUniversal, which renewed the show, airs the half-hour broadcast on a wide variety of stations, including most of its owned-and-operated NBC outlets. NBCU reps and the show’s executive producer would not comment on any specific changes in salaries, additional layoffs or other business matters. The renewal of the shows has not yet been officially announced.

A spokesperson for the show would only say: “Access Hollywood made staffing adjustments that make sense for our business and position us well for the future”

The salary reductions, according to a show source, were part of a process that has been underway for weeks to make the operation more cost-efficient. More adjustments could be ahead for some on-air talent, although it is unclear when that may happen. Sources say it is unlikely host Billy Bush will have his salary cut. 

The source claimed that other entertainment magazines in recent months also have found ways to cut costs by ending the contracts of some highly paid anchors, putting employees on temporary hiatus and in one case by replacing studio space with locations for anchor stand up reports.

That source denied that the cuts were at the request of the new owners at Comcast, but rather was part of management looking for ways to  be smarter about how they run the business. That person said it is not fair to compare Access Hollywood to the way E! Entertainment, also owned by Comcast, does business.

Entertainment newsmagazines have struggled in the ratings in recent years, with the proliferation of shows in both broadcast syndication and on cable. Access trails Entertainment Tonight, the dominant show in the category. Season-to-date, Access’ ratings are a 2.0 in households, an average of 2.8 million viewers per day. In the key demographic of women from 25 to 54 (for season to date), the viewership is up 8 percent compared with a year earlier. Access was also up 10 percent in February, the most recent sweep period. Among daily entertainment newsmagazines, Entertainment Tonight is No. 1 with a 3.8 rating, while Access is in a virtual tie with TMZ (2.0) and ahead of The Insider (1.7 rating) and Extra (1.6 rating).

Among those who were laid off recently, most were apparently on the research staff of the show, which management felt had become somewhat obsolete with Internet searches aiding research efforts.