After it was announced that Billy Bush was leaving Access Hollywood to join Today, NBC has announced that Natalie Morales, one of the hosts of Today, will be relocating to Los Angeles in order to host Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, taking over for the spots that Bush is vacating, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Morales will still be a part of Today, as she will be become a West Coast correspondent for the show. She has been spending about a week each month in Los Angeles as a way to cover entertainment stories for the morning show.
This move will allow Morales to still be a part of the NBCUniversal family as Access Hollywood is produced by NBCUniversal.
Morales first joined Today in 2006, where she was an anchor in the show’s core 7 to 9 a.m. news-based hours and is a co-host in the show’s 9 a.m. hour. She sometimes hosts Dateline, NBC’s Friday night newsmagazine show that focuses on true-crime stories. Some of the well-known segments the show does is How to Catch a Predator and the show did a special called The Real Blacklist to coincide with The Blacklist, which is broadcast on NBC.
The news of Morales joining Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood is hot on the heels of Billy Bush joining Today and Michael Strahan announcing that he’s leaving Live! With Kelly and Michael in order to host ABC’s Good Morning America. It also makes it clearer that NBC and Today are trying to revamp the 9 a.m. hour, possibly as a way to better compete against Live! on ABC.
A replacement for Morales has not been announced yet, though NBC has repeatedly said she’s still going to be a part of both Today and Dateline.
NBC is currently expecting a ratings boost this summer as NBC and its cable channels have broadcasting rights to the Olympics.
In a memo sent out by Today Senior Vice President Noah Oppenheim, he wrote that Morales is moving to Los Angeles, where she’ll be a West Coast correspondent for Today and will officially be hosting Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live.
“With our show’s increasing focus on West Coast stories, it became clear to me that having a permanent anchor presence in LA would be of enormous value.
Additionally, when NBCU Domestic TV Distribution heard that a talent of Natalie’s caliber and entertainment experience might soon be LA-based, they immediately jumped at the opportunity to have her host Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live,” Oppenheim wrote.
He continued in the memo to say that Today has been the number one morning show in the key demographic for eight months straight. He also continued the memo by saying it’s an “exciting time” as the network gears up for the Olympics, the Democratic and Republican national conventions and the election season.