When Josh Elliott left ABC’s “Good Morning America” nearly a year ago for a post at NBC Sports, the world was stunned. One of broadcast journalism’s rising stars had left a top-rated morning news show for an undefined role at a different network, where he would have to ride the bench for six months because of a non-compete clause in his previous contract.
“I loved my time at ABC News. It was life-changing for me. I had the opportunity to tell so many different sorts of stories and be involved in so many different projects,” he told TheWrap. “But for me [joining NBC Sports] was just a personal choice … it felt like the next step on my path.”
After Elliott’s non-compete clause expired, he became a correspondent on “Football Night in America” and occasionally filled in on “Today” alongside Matt Lauer.
“This has been a very rewarding year and a great reminder that you never know what’s around the next bend,” Elliott said.
But on Sunday, he’s stepping away from the field to host “Escape,” a three-part “Dateline” miniseries about survival and recovery.
“One of the great things about this job – really something that made the job supremely attractive was that I had a calendar that would allow for these periods where I could just dive into storytelling that wasn’t necessarily sports specific,” he explained. “This was a perfect opportunity to do just that.”
The first episode of “Escape” focuses on the harrowing 2012 shipwreck of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which killed 32. Sunday’s episode features first-person accounts of six brave survivors who managed to stay alive amid the chaos and danger.
Interviewing disaster victims might not seem like the purview of a NBC Sports employee, but Elliott thinks a great story transcends classification.
“As a journalist I have never seen a real dividing line between this idea of news and sports,” he said. “Human interest stories are sort of all the same, whether told through the prism of a sport or, in this case, a maritime disaster. In the end, this is a job I love about telling people’s stories.”
In the coming weeks, “Escape” will interview survivors from the Cedar Fire that ravaged San Diego County in 2003 and the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.
“They’re three great episodes of television and nobody will be sorry they tuned in,” he said.
“Dateline: Escape” premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on NBC.