One of the worst kept secrets in television is finally out in the open.
Months after DailyMail.com exclusively broke the news that Mario Lopez was leaving Extra to go to Access (previously Access Hollywood), NBC has officially made the announcement.
The network announced that Lopez, 45, would take over beginning September 9, according to Deadline on Wednesday.
Cat is out of the bag: Months after DailyMail.com exclusively broke the news that Mario Lopez was leaving Extra to go to Access (previously Access Hollywood), NBC has officially made the announcement
‘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,’ said Tracie Wilson, Executive Vice President, Creative Affairs, NBCUniversal Domestic TV Distribution.
Adding: ‘Our viewers know him and love him, and we are so excited to have him as a part of the NBCUniversal family.’
Mario’s new gig also includes a wider development and producing deal for both scripted and non scripted projects and is part of a major overhaul of the entertainment news show.
Access has struggled to find its footing in the wake of Billy Bush’s departure in 2016.
TV insiders tell DailyMail.com that Access cleaned house with much of their staff in an effort to breathe new life into the show with Mario coming on to helm.
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,’ the network said in a statement
The overhaul included the departure of many senior and executive level staffers as well as host Natalie Morales.
The 46-year-old star was let go in March along with the show’s longtime executive producer Rob Silverstein, who was replaced by Maureen Fitzpatrick at both Access and Access Hollywood Live. Morales will remain as Today’s West Coast Anchor for NBC.
Fitzpatrick was brought on by NBC as a consultant to fix the fledgling show, but staffers say they feel the program has become boring and stale on her watch.
‘We are thrilled to have someone of Mario’s caliber join our Access team,’ Maureen said in statement about Mario.
Revamp: DailyMail.com exclusively reported earlier this year that Mario was set to join the show as part of a network overhaul which included the departure of many senior and executive level staffers as well as host Natalie Morales (pictured with his wife in June)
‘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 switch-up reportedly made Morales ‘furious’ after she had moved her family across the country to take over when Billy Bush left the show in 2016.
Mario had been in talks with head honchos at NBC for nearly a year and was even flown out to New York to help host the annual Rockefeller Christmas tree lightening.
A senior NBC executive previously told DailyMail.com: ‘We are planning on blowing up the current format of the show and making Mario the star.’
Furious: Morales was fuming when she was fired to make room for Lopez and her ire was echoed by many staffers on Access and Access Hollywood Life who preferred to bring Billy Bush back
Not everyone is thrilled about the shift, particularly some staffers on the show.
A source at Access told DailyMail.com: ‘Everyone is pissed that NBC is doing this, but no one is more ticked off than Natalie. I mean he is our competition and now he’s going to come in and save the day. What a joke!
‘For over a year now we have had consultants in trying to revamp the show. I mean what a smart idea – dropping the ”Hollywood” part of the title and calling the show ”Access”.
‘They have even had extremely unfunny comedians weighing in on air. It has been really embarrassing.’
‘[As} a husband and father of three young children, [Mario] 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,’ Access EP Maureen Fitzpatrick said
Behind the scenes, Morales was fuming about being passed over for the former Saved By the Bell actor.
A sourced previously dished to DailyMail.com: ‘[Natalie} does not see Mario as her equal but as a cheeseball who is very lucky to have made it to where he is today.’
They added at the time: ‘We knew something was going on as we’ve watched Mario kissing the a**es of certain NBC execs for the past year to convince them to make him a huge deal at NBC. It’s clearly paid off but boy he must have really chapped lips.
‘It’s just not right. This move will damage our brand especially in the wake of the current #MeToo movement – moving two capable female hosts out of the way for a man.
He’s back! Meanwhile Billy Bush is slated to make his big return to television and will replace Lopez as the host of Extra
‘While Mario appears clean cut – we’ve been in the industry a very long time and have memories of Mario’s history and we don’t want that anywhere near our show.’
Sources revealed to DailyMail.com that the audience is excited about Bush’s triumphant return to television after a nearly three year break following the infamous Trump/Access Hollywood tape scandal.
Sources at Access previously revealed that both producers and fans expressed a desire to bring Bush back.
Extra is also going through its own internal makeover and moving networks to Fox in the fall.