Josh Elliott knows that if not for recent ratings strides by “Good Morning America,” he might not be bidding America a “Good Afternoon” now.
The weekday news anchor of ABC’s morning information program is doing double duty this summer, along with lifestyle anchor Lara Spencer, in presiding over “Good Afternoon America.” It ends Sept. 7 — the Friday before Katie Couric’s syndicated show debuts on many ABC affiliates — but the good-humored Elliott recognizes what even the temporary life of “GAA” says about the re-energized performance of “GMA.”
“It feels good,” the former ESPN sportscaster tells Zap2it. “I wish everybody this professionally, just once in their lives, to feel like they’re at the place they’re supposed to be … doing the thing they’re supposed to be doing.”
In April, “GMA” scored a week’s victory in the morning show wars over NBC’s “Today” for the first time in 16 years, which may have shortened Ann Curry’s tenure as the latter program’s co-anchor. “Every week it didn’t happen,” Elliott says of that win, “I was privately disappointed. And to be a part of it happening in the end, it was absolutely remarkable.”
If Elliott’s progress has seemed rapid, from joining “GMA” a year ago to co-hosting Nik Wallenda’s recent prime-time Niagara Falls wire walk to becoming “GAA” co-anchor, he cites ABC News president Ben Sherwood: “One of the first things I said to him was, ‘I realize your audience won’t really know who I am. If there are two TVs in a house, maybe one is on ESPN, but I will be largely unknown. Ben, I hope at the end of all this, they call you the smartest man in TV for taking this chance.’ All credit goes to that gamble.”
That said, Elliott believes the conditions were right for him to slide into “GMA” seamlessly. “It was just a great fit,” he reflects. “They are all wonderful people there, and I said early on, ‘Let’s just focus on who we are.’ The one thing ESPN does incredibly well is that it knows what it is, and you can feel that confidence. The want to win is a paramount motivator for me.”