Bill Rancic is done biting his tongue. The season one Apprentice winner stayed silent all throughout wife Giuliana Rancic's recent Fashion Police controversy, but make no mistake — he is very firmly on her side.
"She's great. She is such a strong woman," he gushed of his wife on the Today show on Monday, May 4. "She's such an inspiration for me, and for our son [Duke, 2]. I mean, she's been through so much over the last eight years since we've been married. I love her, obviously."
Giuliana, a breast cancer survivor, has indeed weathered some storms — most recently, the fallout of her comments regarding Zendaya's Oscars hair. ("I feel like she smells like patchouli oil…or weed," the Fashion Police co-host infamously said of the Disney alum's dreadlocks.)
"It was tough," Bill admitted of the controversy, which ultimately led Kelly Osbourne and Kathy Griffin to exit the E! style series. "I was really surprised with how it happened," he continued. "Because, you know, her intent was to make a hippie joke. It had nothing to do with what some of these people were saying. And boy, it just took on a life of its own."
Indeed, the backlash continued even after Giuliana had apologized on air. She later blamed the scandal on poor editing, saying she understood "why people took offense" but wanted to "get out there and tell the real story."
"We made a plan," Bill told Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb. "We were gonna just kinda weather it. We've got a strong marriage. We love each other. And we knew that she didn't do anything wrong. And obviously these situations bring us closer together. They can either tear you apart or bring you closer together, and we're a team."
Still, it was hard for Bill to see his wife of eight years getting so much flak. "As a husband, we are the defender, we want to protect our family," he explained. "And I just kinda had to be muzzled. I wanted to get out there and I wanted to defend my wife."
He added: "If Joan [Rivers] was around, she would have never allowed that to happen."
Rivers' daughter, Melissa Rivers, doesn't disagree. In a separate interview with the Today show's Matt Lauer, Melissa — who has been executive producer since 2010 — likened Fashion Police to a family who'd lost its mother. (The comedy legend died at age 81 in September.)
"The only way I can really get my head around it is, the matriarch of the family died, and the family fell apart," Melissa said. Referring to Rancic, Osbourne, and Griffin, she continued, "The sisters started fighting…And then someone tried to marry into the family, and we know how that went. That's the only way I can explain what happened."
Asked whether she thinks the show is mean-spirited by nature, she replied, "No. I think the show is funny. And people say it's mean-spirited? It wasn't. Because it was a celebration. My mother loved fashion, and she loved celebrity, and she loved being famous, and she loved that these women were getting dressed up. And even though we were talking about it and making jokes, it came from a place of excitement, which made it okay. In the second incarnation, I don't think we ever achieved that warmth, that excitement, that love that came through the screen."
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