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CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting Billy Bush may never return to Today. Is the new co-anchor of the 9:00 hour  simply disposable? Irredeemable? Is he not worthy of a second chance like Brian Williams whose narcissistic on-air fantasies destroyed his news credibility or CNN’s Richard Quest who was once arrested after hours in Central Park with meth in his pocket and a rope around his genitals.

42ecef06022ce3c9b79fe85ef92567e9-2Billy Bush offered a Friday night apology: “Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”  He was set to apologize on air Monday morning but instead got an indefinite suspension and the cancellation of his surprise welcoming party.


If we’re going to be architects of gender equality and respect in the workplace, we have to find a new way. The old way hasn’t been working very well.


We’ve all seen the tape: a joyful road trip with Trump the Vulgarian and Billy the Wingman that somehow became Pussygate 2016. Read the rest of this entry »

UPDATE 10/11/16 CNN’s Brian Stelter reporting Billy Bush may never return to Today.

UPDATE: Billy Bush no longer set to apologize on NBC’s Today Monday morning

NBC News is confirming Billy Bush will be off the air Monday Today show’s 9 AM hour, three days after the Washington Post released audio tape of Bush in a lewd, predatory conversation he had with now-GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2005 about women, including Bush’s then Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Dell. 



UPDATE: CNN’s Brian Stelter is reporting  Bush may never return to Today.  Is Billy Bush simply disposable? Irredeemable? Is he not worthy of a second chance like Brian Williams who’s narcissistic on-air fantasies destroyed his news credibility or CNN’s Richard Quest who was once arrested after hours in Central Park with meth in his pocket and a rope around his genitals.

Sex scandals are as American as apple pie — but when one involves a presidential candidate (Trump the Vulgarian) and a member of the media (Billy the Wingman), you somehow wind up with Pussygate.

On Friday night, Bush—who is married and has three daughters—released a statement of apology:

“Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed. It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago—I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”

Enough? Hardly.  Billy is just as crass as Trump and creates a hostile work environment as he lets Trump demeans his former co-anchor, Nancy O’Dell, because she wouldn’t sleep with him although he went after her like a “bitch” (presumably in heat.)

Bush, anchor of Access Hollywood, was shilling a three-way for NBC… busing  the Apprentice host to the set of an NBC soap opera for a cameo with an actress named Arianna Zucker

When they spot the actress, Bush blurts out, ” “Sheeesh, your girl’s hot as shit! In the purple.”

“Whoa! Whoa!” Trump exclaims.

“Yes! The Donald has scored!” Bush answers. With a raucous laugh, he adds: “Whoa, my man! You gotta look at her…Give her the thumbs-up. You gotta give the thumbs-up….Oh my God!”

Trump then remarks that he’s going to use some Tic Tacs, “just in case I start kissing her,” he explains. “When you’re a star, they let you do it.”

“Whatever you want,” Bush agrees.

When the two frat boys get off they bus,  Zucker greets Trump with a handshake.

“How about a little hug for The Donald? He just got off the bus,” Bush pimps for Trump who gives her a quick hug and acknowledges, “This is okay with Melania.

“I just got off the bus,” Bush says, and leans in for his own hug from Zucker. “There we go!” he says when the actress complies.

As an author of a book on of political sex scandals in America going back to 1700s, Fall from Grace: the History of Sex, Scandal and Corruption in American Politics (Ballantine) I have researched them all and never before has such outrage and gag reflexes been triggered by the likes of Trump and Billy

. History shows plenty of leaders who loved and lusted after women with whom they didn’t belong.
Their own words show conscience, a longing for romance, an elevation of sex and romance mixed in with their moral stumbling.  Absent is a predatory sense of entitlement.

In 1786, the widowed Thomas Jefferson penned one of the greatest love letters in history to Mrs. Maria Cosway, who is married. The 12-page-long letter is a dialogue with his conscience titled, “My Head and My Heart,” in which Jefferson longs for a woman who has made him “the most wretched of all earthly beings.” The letter nobly concludes with Jefferson’s integrity winning over his desire for Cosway.

In 1796, Alexander Hamilton self-published his confession of an affair with a married woman rather than fall victim to financial blackmail during his time as the first secretary of the treasury, He detailed the entire event and included his personal struggles to end the relationship:“The intercourse with Mrs.Reynolds in the meantime continued… Her conduct make it difficult to disentangle myself.”

Warren Harding wrote love letters with erotic zeal to Mrs. Carrie Phillips for over a decade: “There is one engulfing, enthralling rule of love, the song of your whole being which is a bit sweeter — Oh Warren! Oh Warren! “ when your body quivers with divine paroxysms and your shoulder hovers for flight with mine.”

Even Lyndon Johnson added some wit to his seduction of a staffer when he climbed into her bed and instructed, “Move over, this is your President.”

Sex talk among politicians has a great range of emotion and a lot of chivalry. Not one person in high level politics is known to have ever uttered words that boasted an entitlement to sexual assault.

Friday night, Jeb Bush tweeted that no apology would be enough to forgive Donald Trump for his boasting that he can grab a woman’s pussy at will because he’s a star. I tweeted him back to ask if he felt the same about his cousin, Billy, who is seen on the tape egging him on, then pimping him off to a soap opera star for a post-Tic Tac hug. (Jeb Bush didn’t respond.)

While the GOP has bunkered in, the leadership at NBC has hunkered down, trying to access the fallout for their future star of the news division. Bush quickly issued an appropriate apology, but as they say in television, sometimes “sorry” isn’t enough.

At best, Billy Bush created a hostile work environment for those on the bus who undoubtedly decided to “go along to get along.” And who is Bush calling “Honey,” on the bus and does he know how belittling that term is for any woman in the work place.

No one thinks the news division chief, who refused to cut ties with the fully damaged Brian Williams, will summarily fire Bush either. But what should they do when the morning show is so heavily tilted with female viewers.

As a veteran network news executive who’s reported extensively on sexual harassment and has personally managed this dirty secret of the workplace as both an executive and a target (see Daily Beast “Roger Ailes Harassed Me, I Thought I Was the First and the Last), I share my final thoughts on Bush. (The voters get to decide the fate of Trump.)

First, I’d send Billy Bush off to Texas to apologize to the family elders and have his ears boxed by his aunt, Barbara Bush. That would be enough to satisfy me, personally, but there’s more to do.

What about something more meaningful for him, for the rest of the country. Why not assign Bush a Today Show series on sexual harassment, rape on campus, gender equality in Hollywood. Team him up with Jenna Bush, if she even would touch this hot mess. Let him help use this as a teachable moment for himself, first, then guide America to a better dialogue between men and women. This round, why not really groom and grow the anchor of the future.

UCLA’s Charles Brunicardi, M.D., Joins the Board
Global Scientists Officially Launch Non-Profit Group

(April 8, 2015 Miami, FL.) Former executive producer of ABC’s Good Morning America, Shelley Ross, has been named president of The Cure Alliance it was announced today by Dr. Camillo Ricordi, the group’s founding president and Director and Chief Academic Officer of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Center.

“Shelley Ross brings creative innovation and a new energy to our efforts. 2015 will be an important year for The Cure Alliance as bold initiatives are under discussion in Congress and we believe we can finally tear down the many barriers we face moving potential cures from our labs to our patients. ”

Ross, an award-winning network television writer, producer, executive and author, is best known for her 17-year tenure at ABC News.

“I am humbled and proud to be working with this global group of elite scientists who are dedicated to curing the diseases which impact us all,” said Ross, adding, “I am especially happy to work alongside fellow board members, Drs. Ricordi and Brunicardi, who are at the forefront of scientific discovery and know first hand what tools could help the government keep pace with what we know can be an exciting new era in medicine.”

Dr. Charles Brunicardi joins the board of directors of The Cure Alliance as secretary. He is the UCLA Moss Foundation Professor of Gastrointestinal and Personalized Surgery and Chief of General Surgery at the UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center plus Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA. He has written more than 270 publications and is editor of “Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery” now in its 10th edition. His current research focuses on translational genomic medicine and surgery for diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Camillo Ricordi remains on the board as treasurer and editor-in-chief of CellR4, the official medical journal of The Cure Alliance. Acknowledged as one of the world’s leading scientists in diabetes cure-focused research and cell transplantation, Dr. Ricordi has authored over 700 scientific publications. He has been awarded 11 patents including the Ricordi Chamber which produced the first islet cell transplants. He is currently working on an artificial “biohub” which would amount to a cure for diabetes.

The new board will also unveil a new website with latest news plus an interactive page, Act Now, for supporters to contact individual senators and congressmen about The Cure Alliance priorities.

The Cure Alliance is an invitation-only non-profit group of leading scientists, researchers, medical doctors and innovators, plus those who support their efforts to end suffering by developing cures for chronic, debilitating and fatal diseases. Its #1 goal is to help accelerate potential cures from the laboratory to the bedside.

Kim and Khloe Kardashian sit on Piers Morgan's lap for a CNN News promotion

Kim and Khloe Kardashian sit on Piers Morgan’s lap for a CNN News promotion

I remember former CNN president Jon Klein getting mad at me after I was the first to post that Larry King’s replacement would be “PM.” I invited readers to guess and they came up with everyone from Paul McCartney to Peter Marshall. Only Sue Carswell was right in naming Piers Morgan.

It wasn’t a very well-kept secret anyway. It turned out Piers Morgan was out celebrating in London in a big noisy group that included mutual friends. And, well, no one had to hack his phone to hear about the deal Simon Cowell was helping him craft.

Well, here’s my next hint: his replacement should have the initials of JL, and I don’t mean Jerry Lewis.

I hope Jeff Zucker does get as bent out of shape as Jon Klein did, writing to me a terse e-mail, “You’re not helping me here.” I wish I could have.

From the beginning I took special interest in Piers Morgan because, a) we have those mutual friends and acquaintances, b) I thought it was time for Larry King to retire and I was hungry for a fresh voice and c) I am married to a Brit and was curious how this would work.

Yes, American TV viewers had fallen in love with Simon Cowell, the dangerous British bad boy with, secretly, a big heart. But Morgan? He would need a lot of different coaching.

My unique viewpoint comes from my early years with my husband who was born in London, went to Leicester University and became an entertainment lawyer. Soon after, he took top leadership roles at British record labels including Arista, Phonogram and MCA UK.

He reads many papers each day, always has a book or two on hand, keeps his finger on the pulse of not only music, but world politics, fashion, financial crises, sports, history of many world tensions and more. He is a people person and a family man. But when he finally moved to America to launch a new record label for MCA in 1988, there was still a steep cultural learning curve.

Here are some of the simple ways I helped, which could have easily helped Piers Morgan.

First stop was the Kennedy library in Boston. There we watched all the fabulous off-the-cuff verbal sparring between JFK and the White House correspondents, a high watermark for presidential access and candor. Then we watched a JFK documentary followed by one of RFK. Among many reactions, David was devastated to learn the civil rights movement, which he had read about, had happened so recently. It was now much more disturbingly indelible.

We then rented the whole series of Eyes On the Prize and watched the episodes back to back. It was a life-changing immersion, one recommended for every serious foreign journalist or businessman. There are so many nuances in American politics that as we went along over time, I could explain why one politician is forgiven, another is not and more.

For most of my adult life, I have always felt independent of any political party, an observer rather than a joiner. Given that, I was able to explain to my British step-children why no matter what was spoken during the 2008 election, the two rival presidential candidates would most likely take the same action with the same timing in winding down the wars.

I know, Piers Morgan wasn’t doing a Sunday morning show. He just needed to have been steeped in a bit more of the American journey so he could have maybe talked with Oprah about Martin Luther King, Jr. for an interview that would air on the civil rights leader’s birthday.

Maybe someone should have told him his promo pictures shouldn’t have been in front of the make-up mirror.

And someone should have warned him against not only having the Kardashian sisters sit on his lap, but sending out perhaps the creepiest publicity photos in CNN history.

I don’t really know enough to blame Morgan. I’d much rather work with a person on camera that you have to pull back a bit than one you must push forward. But no one was pulling him back.

And who told him his purpose in coming to America was to teach us about gun control all the while fracturing the statistics from the UK and speaking over those who tried to correct him.

The key is this: you can criticize this country on tv only if viewers believe you know this country and love this country… between New York and L.A.

In fact, my husband became the most patriotic person I know and seeing through his eyes made me even more patriotic. He even loves that Americans give second chances to failed politicians…invoking Winston Churchill.

Maybe Piers will have a second chance, too. He has a big personality made for TV, plenty of moxie, ego and mental sharpness. Just look how he made mincemeat of the legal panel investigating his role in the Murdoch newspaper hacking scandal. I watched it all. He made them look like amateurs.

But the damage has been done at CNN.

Zucker is under pressure, having failed to launch a successful new CNN morning show, just as he failed –hands on– launching “Katie” in syndication. (Hello, 1978’s calling, they want their talk show back.)

Zucker needs a great big splashy hit. Maybe if JLen can get over the NBC 10:00 purgatory thing with his old boss, all will be forgiven and it could be Zucker’s biggest booking ever. CNN has the money, now just shake that tree.

And let’s hope Piers Morgan learns to genuinely love America before he rolls in again to teach us right from wrong in politics AND TV.

While I’m working on a new piers morgan column, I thought I’d re-post some of my earlier ones that gave me a foreboding feeling from the start. Sad thing is, it didn’t have to be so bad.

 shelley ross daily Xpress



It began at 9:00 p.m. just like this:  after days of intensive CNN promotion where we see Oprah call it “one of the toughest interviews I’ve had in twenty years,” Piers Morgan opened the door, sat down and asked the first question on his highly anticipated new talk show.  I turned up the volume, shushed my husband and leaned forward.

PIERS: Tell me this, do you ever get surreal moments when, I’m trying to picture what it’s like being you, when you wake up in the morning and you go, ‘Bloody hell, I’m Oprah Winfrey.’

OPRAH:  Well I don’t say, “bloody hell,” but I did have a surreal moment, January 1st, when I launched my new network.

It had been only a matter of seconds before Oprah was pitching her…

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I really thought I would want to kick the door shut on 2013, a year that came roaring in with a cancer battle, months of chemotherapy treatments followed by a bilateral mastectomy and failed reconstruction.

I blogged about my diagnosis and treatment  last May, just 2 days before I learned the  reconstruction had gone wrong. Instead of winding  down the breast cancer experience, I was now starting anew.

There’s not much public discussion of failed reconstruction.  Surgeons  often like to trash each other: “Oh, I always have to fix his/her mess.” The truth is: breast cancer is a messy  business.  Reconstruction failures are not uncommon. Mine seemed very random.

In my case, my body rejected the internal “slings” that hold the new construction in place after everything else is removed in a 5 1/2 hour surgery.

The “slings” are made of repurposed sterilized cadaver tissue, an inert substance brought back to life by soaking in water. Once placed in the body, a network of newly grown blood vessels integrate the tissue. Occasionally there is a failure to “integrate” with one of the slings.

I failed to integrate both slings, something my two surgeons said “we’ve never seen before.”

Because the slings were literally disintegrating internally they had to be removed, along with everything else that had been put into place for reconstruction. Just four weeks after my double mastectomy, I was back in the OR for 2 1/2 hours, one of which was dedicated to sanitizing my open chest with shower heads.

Over the next weeks, the skin healed, but without any fat or tissue beneath it, internal scar tissue formed causing the skin to adhere to my rib cage.

I was no longer a candidate for reconstruction, but I could certainly channel Mick Jagger with my new androgynous figure, that is,  had it not been for the toll taken on my shoulders.

Two torn rotator cuffs later I decided the cause had to be a combination of chemotherapy, muscles pulling in new directions and a newly degraded posture.

So why would I dare say 2013 was a great year?

First and foremost, I got to make decisions that saved my life.

Secondly, I got to see the music group I discovered online and proposed to my husband and his business partner to manage, explode. ThePianoGuys hit Billboard’s top 20 and now have over 300 million views on YouTube. Along the way, we toured Berlin, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing where  they produced a stunning music video on The Great Wall. The PBS concert I produced and directed for them had over 1900 airings across the network.  Most importantly, I love them personally.

In 2013 I took over management of a book manuscript written by an old friend who was set on self publishing. I redirected a more traditional publishing and marketing plan that put Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Oct 15 2013) on the NYT best seller list for weeks and was listed as #6 on Janet Maslin’s best books of the year. People Magazine also listed it among the best books of the year.

And there’s still more. As part of the executive producing team, I got to help Nik Wallenda realize his dream to walk across the Grand Canyon before a television audience of 20 million viewers, the largest ever live audience for Discovery.

So how can I say I didn’t love 2013, surrounded by so much brilliance  and creativity — especially the gang I ended the year with in Milan where on December 30th I underwent an experimental stem cell treatment to repair both rotator cuffs and prepare the skin on my chest for reconstruction. Ironically, I learned about these new treatments through my work as a founding member of TheCureAlliance, a non-profit group of elite doctors and research scientists who have banded together to share knowledge, break down barriers and find cures for all diseases in the 21st century. After the new year, I’ll be writing about the important research breakthrough that is benefiting me and many others.

Until then, Ciao!

imagesThe curtain has been pulled back and the BRCA gene is out of the closet as are quite a few women who are now revealing they’ve also had the same life-saving double mastectomy as Angelina Jolie.

I now join the sisterhood she created with her bold editorial in the NY Times; I had my double mastectomy just four weeks ago.

Disclosure of something as personal as having had both breasts removed is quite a daunting decision for many reasons, least of which is fear of being seen as “less of a woman,”  as even a world-class sex siren felt obligated to note. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE July 24, 2012The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s $60 million penalty for Penn State’s football program has underscored the severity of the crimes committed by Jerry Sandusky, the assistant coach found guilty on 45 counts of sexual abuse of minors.

In addition, the NCAA officially stripped legendary coach Joe Paterno of his victories over the past decade, denouncing his role in a system-wide cover-up of the sex crimes which including including a rape of one boy in the team shower that was reported directly to him by an eyewitness.

I’m with NCAA executive chairman and Oregon State President Ed Ray who said yesterday, “The fundamental story of this horrific chapter should focus on the innocent children and the powerful people who let them down.” 

Joe Paterno’s bronze statue was removed the day before the NCAA stripped him of his victory record.

Joe Paterno isn’t the only one who failed to protect the children, so let’s not stop our public repudiation with the one guy who’s already dead.  Yes the president of Penn State was pressured to resign as was the chairman of Penn State’s Board of Trustees, but it shouldn’t stop there.

It is now time to hold accountable Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett who was attorney general during at least six of the 15 years Sandusky was molesting children and, as governor, was automatically given a seat on the Penn State Board of Trustees. 


Public records show that Tom Corbett, during his campaigns for attorney general and governor, received  $647,481.21 in political donations from present and former board members of The Second Mile, the non-profit charity for at-risk youth founded and run by Jerry Sandusky.

What’s more, despite personal knowledge of  the Sandusky child molestation investigations, Gov. Corbett approved a $3 million state grant to The Second Mile. The grant has been put on hold, but Gov. Corbett should now address possible conflicts of interest, influence peddling and, at best, his failure to lead.

Read the rest of this entry »

Matt? Savannah? GMA? NBC Execs? You won’t believe who did what in this summer network mystery special!

When high crimes are committed against network news careers  you can be sure of one thing: finger prints are never left behind.  Given the challenge, this kind of unsolved mystery needs a top television sleuth, someone willing to follow the trail while the blood is still fresh and revisionist publicists have yet to spin the story into infinity.

Preferably, the best choice to solve the high-profile case of the sudden disappearance of Ann Curry should have experience in the crime beat of morning news. So, for the greater good (of the blogosphere at least) I must volunteer myself, a long-time morning show executive and, just like NBC’s Detective Olivia Benson, a crime fighter whose skills have been sharpened by once having suffered a personal assault as well.

Curry Cringe w/Matt v. Teddy Bear Hug w/Al

And so we begin, first examining the suspects who were last seen with the victim, sitting on that couch as she tearfully said goodbye to her beloved audience.   Natalie? No, she’s not All About EveAl? No, he doesn’t even qualify as a red herring although he  likes to eat them. Matt? Now we might want to put Matt in a line up at least and not because he’s just re-signed a ridiculous new contract, one we can fairly assume was designed to make all his dreams come true.  No, we just need to look at the victim’s body language and Matt’s not off the hook quite yet. Read the rest of this entry »

For all fans of the ABC Megastunt broadcast, here’s another inside look at Nik Wallenda’s “life on a wire.”

 shelley ross daily Xpress




Nik Wallenda and his 58-year-old mother, Delilah, on 10-story high wire in San Juan, Puerto Rico on June 4, 2011. Photo by Shelley Ross


I just witnessed the most extraordinary event: not just for its daredevil -“ishness”  or athletic feat of balancing on a wire strung between two hotels ten stories above the ground in the light wind and rain.  I certainly have an excruciating respect for what that takes.

The extraordinary event that took place this weekend, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a mother and son celebrating their lives together and the lives of all their generations past. They were both steeped in  the knowledge  passed down,  with DNA of high performance and courage.

Filmed for Discovery Channel’s “Life on a Wire,”  Nik Wallenda had set out to honor his great grandfather, the Great Karl…

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