“Billy has brought nothing but drama.” Fans also revolted, calling him “a pig” and even starting a petition to get him fired .
Next thing Billy knew, he was out. On Oct. 9, NBC announced it had suspended him “pending further review.” But that was only after a failed attempt to bury the story. Although a rep for NBC, which produces both Access and Today, claimed the network was aware of the tape and even planned to release a story about it before it was scooped, In Touch has learned that’s a distortion — and that Access’ executive producer, Rob Silverstein, wanted it covered up to protect Billy. “The tape sat on Rob’s desk for over a week. Rob is Billy’s BFF,” says the network insider. When Access did end up running a story about the tape — only because The Washington Post broke the news — they edited it to leave out some of Billy’s disgusting statements, including, “Sheesh, your girl’s hot as s---!” about Arianne. Again, insiders tell In Touch it was Rob protecting his pal while purposefully inaccurately reporting one of the biggest stories of the year.
Billy apologized, blaming immaturity (he was 33 at the time). But sources say this wasn’t isolated behavior. His former Access co-anchor Shaun Robinson described their workplace as having a “boys’ club” culture. “Billy would make comments about women’s bodies in front of other staffers,” says an Access source. “He’d get very flirty and be overtly sexual; it was uncomfortable.” Nancy left the toxic environment in 2009 “because of the frat boy atmosphere between Billy and Rob,” says the network insider. And with Rob in a position of power, says a second Access source, “No one was calling them out on this behavior.”
They are now. “Both Billy and Rob are facing the ax,” says the network insider. “A lot of fans, staff and hosts on Today don’t ever want to see Billy as part of the show again. This was the final nail in his coffin.” ◼