Josh Elliott in Talks to Return to ‘Good Morning America’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Josh Elliott in Talks to Return

Nearly 18 months after leaving ABC News for NBC Sports, Josh Elliott is in talks to return to his old job as the news reader on “Good Morning America,” Variety has learned.

According to two people with knowledge of the situation, ABC executives are potentially open to a plan to buy Elliott out of his $4 million-a-year contract at NBC, and put him back on “GMA,” so he can help the morning show fend off “Today,” which has been gaining in the key ad demo.

If the deal is reached, it’s not clear how soon Elliott would return, but it could mean a reshuffling of talent on “GMA.” A source says executives at ABC News believe the current lineup of personalities — led by George Stephanopoulos and Robin Roberts, along with Amy Robach, Ginger Zee and Lara Spencer — isn’t as gender-balanced as it once was, which is why they are open to bringing Elliott back.

Another source says NBC has an incentive to cut Elliott loose, because he’s an expensive talent who hasn’t been producing much early into his four-year contract.

ABC denies that Elliot is returning to “GMA,” as does Elliott’s rep. “The rumor-mongering is ridiculous,” said a spokesperson for the network. “None of this is true. We have the best on-air team in the business. We’re all good.”

“Josh is under contract with NBC Sports, and the claim that either he or his agents have had any negotiations with NBC about leaving or with ABC about returning is categorically false,” said Elliott’s publicist Matt Hiltzik, adding that his client hadn’t met with the president of Disney/ABC Television Group. “Josh and Ben Sherwood have not spoken or met since Josh left ABC.”

A rep for NBC Sports declined to comment.

At NBC, Elliot had tethered his career to Jamie Horowitz, the onetime ESPN executive who came aboard to supervise “Today.” But Horowitz was pushed out in November just 10 weeks after beginning efforts to revamp the morning program. Elliott had gone to NBC with the impression that he’d be the heir to either “Today’s” Matt Lauer or Bob Costas at NBC Sports. Lauer signed a new contract in 2014, and Costas seems entrenched at NBC Sports. Meanwhile, the current producing staff at “Today” isn’t using Elliott, in a bid to keep him separate from Lauer.

Elliott was part of the team that helped “GMA” topple “Today” from first place in the morning in 2012. But when it came time to renew his contract in April 2014, Elliott clashed with his friend and mentor Ben Sherwood, the president of Disney ABC/Television Group, who was then head of ABC News.

According to sources, Elliott believed that Sherwood was taking too much credit for his career and frequently trash-talked his boss in meetings.

When contract negotiations became terse, Elliott was so eager to get away from ABC that he took a job from NBC Sports that was less than Sherwood’s offer ($5 million). The day that Elliott decided to leave ABC, Sherwood sent out a company-wide email blasting his former hire. “In good faith, we worked hard to close a significant gap between our generous offer and his expectations,” Sherwood wrote. Elliott never returned to “GMA,” and he said goodbye to the show on Twitter.

Insiders say tempers have now cooled on both sides. Network executives are aware that “GMA” has struggled to fight off “Today” after losing the talent that helped make it the No. 1 show on TV, as both Elliott and weatherman Sam Champion exited the show at around the same time in 2014. And by many accounts, Elliott has been unhappy at NBC.

According to sources, Elliott has recently started to mend fences with Sherwood, and the two have been exchanging texts. At the same time, he can’t be caught having official talks with ABC, as that could represent a breach of his contract with NBC.

This isn’t the first time the parent companies of ABC and NBC have traded talent among their news divisions. Last year, Disney let Horowitz out of his contract early in exchange for a release of “The Rachel Maddow Show’s” Bill Wolff, now the executive producer of “The View.” But that exchange didn’t turn out so well: Horowitz did not mesh well with “Today” staffers and NBC News executives, and Wolff has overseen the “The View” during a ratings collapse this season.

Brian Steinberg contributed to this story.

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  1. Joeyr says:

    Do not bring Josh back, never liked him or the way he read the news. Love George, Robin, Amy, Jessee and Michael. Wouldn’t miss Lara, but don’t bring Josh back. He left now he isn’t happy. That’s called life Josh. He is a spoiled brat and when he doesn’t get his way he takes his marbles
    and goes home.

  2. Kris S says:

    I am not sure about bringing Josh back but I was a long long time GMA fan dating back to David and Joan but now can barely stand to watch much of it as George and Robin’s overt partisan politicking and cheer leading for Obama and the Democrats and attitudes about anyone who does not fall into their political leanings and thinking comes thru big time. It gets worse with each passing year.
    Keep Amy and Ginger Zee, minimize Lara’s role to what she is good at, goofy stories and ‘fun” stories which suits her personality. Time for a shake up.

  3. I would like to see Josh Elliott return to Good Morning America I can’t stand George Stephanopulas he needs to stick with his politics show he doesn’t have the personality for these fun gma anchors bring Josh Elliott back please he was funny and cute.

  4. David says:

    Bring josh and Sam back to abc.

  5. Kath says:

    Have always missed Josh from GMA Not nearly as good without him Bring him back!!

    • Aida R.Filipov says:

      I m so happy with the news Josh and Sam back to gma outstanding!! They are cute! And smart Gorge is superb News man !! About Rob he is also good in his craft.i can wait to see them back! Gma is my favorite morning program.

  6. Linda BeHage says:

    love Josh and it was so good to see him again. Please bring him back

  7. christy harding says:

    Bring him, Josh Elliott, back to GMA !!!
    PLEASE, do the right thing for America. He brings life, and laughter, as well as exemplifies fabulous team work ! I would thoroughly revel, just in the thought of Josh Elliott returning. Ratings WOULD, once again, would rule !!!

  8. Susan Moore says:

    Maybe if ABC stopped all the drama in their delivery with the sensationalized adjectives in their stories, then people wouldn’t be turned off of the show. But, they are so over the top with making sure they have every story delivered lavishly, copiously, profusely. It’s because of this I have moved over to CBS Morning show.

  9. Fred Moore says:

    Josh I will begin to enjoy Good Morning America again once you return.My prayers are with you.

    Fred Moore

  10. Linda L. Ross says:

    Don’t get rid of Amy. She is good & pretty on that desk. So, what, that George out numbered, you have a good team, do not screw it up!!!!!!

  11. don’t hire that idiot back ABC. he’s a narcissist, arrogant and too full of himself. he comes across as a braggard. he has no talent. don’t do it

  12. JP says:

    Don’t do it Josh. Be patient. Play your cards right, you’re the next Bob Costas. Rush it and you’re back to the network that is 4th place in sports that barely has any sports that aren’t ESPN properties. Be patient, recognize what you have in the future with NBC. Bob Costas won’t be on every show forever.

  13. Cameo says:

    ABC…NBC…they spend all this money on people who are just average. Why don’t they go out and find real people to do AMAZING things? Everyone is tired of these people; totally. Bring some new fresh blood into the place. OMG!

  14. Carole Fowler says:

    Josh made his bed, now lie in it at NBC. Also sick of the “Good Morning Lara” show. Have you noticed when the team has any type of competition that Lara “wins” it. I think it’s all planned. Love Amy and hope she stays and Lara goes and Josh never comes back.

  15. Sarah Lisi says:

    Used to love ABC morning but now they talk over each other and it is hard to follow what and where. They also are not doing enough “in depth” coverage to get me knowing what is going on. (I wake up slowly!)

  16. karum din says:

    keep Lara spencer off reading the NEWS

  17. News Watcher says:

    I am an avid watcher of GMA. Oh please let this happen! I’d love to see Josh back and Sam Champion too! That group had a great chemistry together!

  18. Sheri says:

    Can’t see why anyone would be good enough to get their old job back. The show needs some new faces for the public to come back. Once you leave a company you’re usually considered a non-person, particularly since Elliott did not leave on good terms.

  19. Joe says:

    It’s not enough he married Liz Cho? He’s still unhappy?

  20. Katie says:

    I loved josh Elliot I think spencer is not that talented always kissing up to robin: my favorite is weekend crew I actually love them all
    And, it has good news.

  21. sam says:

    He’s not worth it.

  22. Completely bogus rumor, likely fanned by Elliott’s agent, and not the first time for something like this from them, IMO. See for the actual facts. Your reporter was conned, IMO.

  23. Pam Noie says:

    i would love Josh back at GMA!!! I really MISS him. I don’t think he’s arrogant at all. I do hope he comes back. I do miss Sam as well. 😄 I think Michael Strahan should leave GMA.

  24. Stacie says:

    Stay away from GMA Josh. The shows good without YOU!

  25. It amazes me how ESPN has fallen and been flushed down the toilet.

  26. Michael Anthony says:

    Josh stabbed them in the back to becimevking, in his own mind. Bringing him back woukdcmean cutting someone else. That’s not the ABC way. NBC us the network that hangs then out to dry if king Lauer says so. Don’t pull an NBC, ABC;

  27. smokegurl14 says:

    Oh I hope this isn’t true! Josh is a total camera hog and I haven’t missed him since the day he left. ABC should bring back Chris Cuomo…that was their big loss. And Josh while was great with banter with Sam, Sam is the one, to me, that I miss of the two.

  28. GMA Viewer says:

    This would be great for GMA. Something isn’t quite right with the current line-up of talent and Josh has been missed.

    • Katie says:

      Ditto that and, Laura is not a journalist : I like Sara Hines got pop news

    • Carol davidson says:

      He is a jerk, doesn’t deserve to be on any major network. I enjoy the current line up on GMA. Why would they resign him he stabbed them in the back.
      He’s arrogant and awful. It would look bad for the network to take him back.

      • Johnson says:

        I agree! Josh is just a big ole douche bag and a dick on the side. ABC please have some balls and say HELL NO. Josh thought he was the shit and he’s a piece of shit, but I like Sam and Chris with Robin and George. Josh and Lara are the bain of GMA and both should ended up on Al Jazeera.

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