Mario Lopez Named New Host of Access Hollywood After Exit from Extra
Billy Bush, who long hosted Access Hollywood, begins his role at a new iteration of Extra in the fall
Mario Lopez has a new gig!
The actor and host has been named host of both Access Hollywood and its daytime counterpart, Access Daily, the network announced Wednesday.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Lopez said, “I am grateful and excited to join the team at Access, and the NBC family. I can’t wait!”
Lopez, 45, will join co-hosts Kit Hoover and Scott Evans when he makes his debut on Sept. 9.
“I have long admired the team at NBCUniversal and all the shows being produced,” the Saved By the Bell actor, who currently hosts Extra, said in a press release statement.
He added: “I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to join in that success and develop scripted and alternative projects on their many creative platforms.”
Additionally, he has signed an overall development and producing deal — for both scripted and alternative programming — with Universal Television and Universal Television Alternative Studio.
“Mario is a multi-talented television personality. Drawing from his experience as an entertainment TV and radio host, actor, author, and, of course, a father and husband, Mario brings a fresh voice and perspective with creative ideas to our business,” Tracie Wilson, executive vice president of creative affairs at NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution, said in a statement. “Our viewers know him and love him, and we are so excited to have him as a part of the NBCUniversal family.”
Said Maureen FitzPatrick, senior executive producer of both Access Hollywood and Access Live: “We are thrilled to have someone of Mario’s caliber join our Access team. Mario has grown up in the business and is able to offer our viewers a unique insight on the latest Hollywood headlines. Additionally, as a husband and father of three young children, he has a respect for the daytime audience who are looking for a break in their hectic lives with uplifting stories of everyday people transforming their lives and making a difference in their communities.”
The announcement comes three months after Natalie Morales shared that she was leaving the show, nearly three years after her cross-country move from the Today show’s New York studio to take on the role of anchor for Access Hollywood and Access Live. Though she stepped away from Access Hollywood, she remained with NBC as the West Coast anchor for the Today show and is continuing to act as a correspondent on Dateline.
Morales took on the role after longtime Access Hollywood host Billy Bush — who was the show’s co-anchor since 2004 – joined Today. But soon after he began the gig in 2016, Bush, was fired following the Trump tape scandal.
Now, nearly three years later, Bush, 47, will return to television to host Extra Extra, a new iteration of the current syndicated entertainment show, featuring a modernized set and in-depth look at topics including pop culture, sports and politics.
“We all have to be able to evolve as we grow,” Bush, told PEOPLE in May. “The guy that left the scene in 2016 was already a changed person [since 2005], but I had the opportunity to grow up a little bit. Facing adversity in some way is good. And I feel I’ll be better at my job than I ever was. This is my next step.”