Pat O’Brien, the former CBS sportscaster who left Access Hollywood last year to co-anchor Paramount Television’s Entertainment Tonight spinoff, The Insider, will return to the gossipy entertainment newsmagazine May 5, Paramount said.
O’Brien left a substance abuse rehab facility he entered late last month after admitting he had a problem with alcohol. He took the drastic step around the time several lewd, sexually explicit voice mails—belonging to someone who sounded like him—surfaced on the web.
Paramount confirmed the return date after the New York Post reported that O’Brien would be back on the show and likely appear on an upcoming edition of Dr. Phil.
"I want to thank everyone for their support during the past few weeks,” O’Brien said in a statement. “I plan to continue my recovery with the help and support of my family, colleagues and friends, and look forward to getting back to work."
Insider Executive Producer Linda Bell-Blue said, “I spent time with Pat recently and he’s looking and feeling great…. We're all excited to welcome him back to the office and back on the air.”
Industry watchers will be keeping a close eye on whether the scandal will help or hurt the series, which often has O’Brien interviewing celebrities involved in scandals of their own.
New York co-host Lara Spencer has been handling the anchor duties solo in O’Brien’s absence, during which time ratings for the show have held up quite well.
From its September premiere through March 14, when O’Brien left, The Insider averaged a 2.7 Nielsen national rating. Since then, the CBS affiliate-heavy show has been pulling a 2.5, with the lower ratings due to preemptions during the "March Madness" of the NCAA basketball tournament on CBS