Billy Bush, NBC Near Agreement on Exit

Brian Steinberg

Billy Bush and NBC News are closing in on an agreement that will have him leave the NBCUniversal-owned outlet, according to an attorney for the anchor.

The two sides ended a negotiating session on Friday, said Marshall Grossman, an attorney with the Orrick law firm who is representing Bush, in a brief interview. He said he expected both sides to reach an amicable resolution as soon as next week. Grossman declined to discuss specific terms of the discussions.

A settlement would mark a quick reversal of fortune for Bush, who arrived at NBC’s “Today” just weeks ago to inject a new tone into the morning-show franchise’s 9 a.m. broadcast, which competes directly in many markets with the ABC syndicated program “Live,” hosted by Kelly Ripa. NBC made serious changes to the hour. Bush’s move to the show resulted in longtime “Today” anchor Natalie Morales moving to the West Coast to work on “Access Hollywood” and serve as a “Today” correspondent and Willie Geist departing to work on a revamped Sunday “Today” edition.

His fall came due to his presence on a 2005 “outtake” from “Access Hollywood” showing him engaging in rough banter with real-estate mogul Donald Trump, now the Republican presidential nominee. In the tape, Trump boasts of his ability to sexually harass and assault women due to his celebrity status. In the conversation, Bush appears to egg him on. NBC initially seemed ready to defend the anchor, releasing a statement of apology from him a week ago. As news outlets continued to play the tape for days, Bush’s part in the dialogue was highlighted again and again. Even NBC’s own Seth Meyers has poked fun at him in late-night monologues.  Reaction within the production staff of “Today” may have also turned the tide  of sentiment against him. A number of female “Today” staffers were upset and offended by the remarks, according to people familiar with the situation, leaving Bush’s position on the show untenable

The “Access Hollywood” recording was made while Bush and Trump were travelling to the Los Angeles set of NBC soap “Days of Our Lives”. Bush spent 15 years on the NBC’s entertainment newsmagazine, and was co-anchor of the show at the time of the Trump conversation.

The attorney said he believed both sides were on track to an agreement. NBC News declined to comment.


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