Natalie Morales of Today has been named the new co-host of Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She will relocate to Los Angeles on a permanent basis and stay with Today as the West Coast anchor.
News of Morales joining Access Hollywood comes a week after Billy Bush announced lead host Billy Bush would be joining Today full-time. He will take Morales spot around the table during the 9 a.m. hour.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Morales Will Be the New Co-Host of ‘Access Hollywood’
Today senior vice president Noah Oppenheim announced in a staff memo on Wednesday morning that Morales would be the new co-host of Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Life, according to The Hollywood Reporter. She will transition to the Los Angeles-based show over the summer while remaining a part of the Today show team as well as NBC’s Dateline.
“Please join me in congratulating Natalie on her family’s big move and her exciting new roles,” Oppenheim wrote in his memo.
Morales will join Access Hollywood correspondents Liz Hernandez, Tim Vincent, Jill Martin, Scott Evans and co-host Kit Hoover. The show’s lead anchor Billy Bush will swap places with Morales when he joins Today full-time in New York.
2. Morales Will Continue to Report for ‘Today’ and ‘Dateline’
As Morales joins Access Hollywood, Today has also named her to the new role of West Coast anchor. NBC’s morning news show has increased its focus on stories out West and Morales spearheaded two series spotlighting women leading the way in Hollywood and Silicon Valley.
She currently serves as a news anchor during Today‘s broadcast from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. She’s also a co-host in the third hour with Al Roker, Willie Geist and Tamron Hall.
3. She and Her Family Will Relocate to Los Angeles Permanently
Recently, Morales has spent about a week each month reporting from Los Angeles on entertainment stories for Today. She will relocate to the West Coast permanently along with her husband, Joseph Rhodes, and their two sons, Joseph “Josh” and Luke.
She has reported live from the Oscars, the Golden Globe Awards and the Latin American Music Awards. Morales has also conducted celebrity interviews and gone on set visits for shows like The Walking Dead, Fifty Shades of Grey and American Ninja Warrior.
4. Morales Joined ‘Today’ in 2006′
Morales graduated from Rutgers University with a dual degree in journalism and Latin American studies. After college, Morales worked for WVIT-TV in Hartford, Connecticut until she was hired by MSNBC to serve as a correspondent in 2002.
She worked for NBC cable news division for four years before joining Today as a national correspondent. She also was named as a co-anchor for the show’s third hour of programming. Her coverage while at NBC News has included the 2009 presidential inauguration, the Southern California wildfires and the 2010 Chilean mine rescue, which she reported and live-translated (Morales speaks Spanish and Portuguese), according to her Today bio.
5. Billy Bush Is Leaving ‘Access Hollywood’ to Join ‘Today’ Full-Time
NBC started courting Bush to join Today full-time last fall, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The network will likely make the official announcement at its upfront presentation on May 16.
Bush chose not to renew his contract with Access Hollywood after 15 years with the syndicated news magazine. He felt his time on the show had “run is course,” a source told Us Weekly.
He has already started to relocate his family from Los Angeles to New York. Bush will join the third hour of Today. He has made previous appearances on the show and contributed interviews.