For the first time in nearly a year, ABC's Dancing with the Stars hit Good Morning America to reveal all of its celebrities and pro dancers who are heading to Season 28 in September. While many were expecting The Bachelorette's Hannah Brown to join the slightly different format, there were several surprises in the group, such as former White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
While the announcements made on Good Morning America went off without too many alarm bells ringing, things were a lot different on social media, where Sean Spicer's inclusion was met with confusion and disbelief. Shockingly, Dancing with the Stars co-host Tom Bergeron announced on his Twitter page his own disagreement with the choice to bring Spicer into Season 28, though without using specific names. Here's how Bergeron put it:
A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS' new Executive Producer, I offered suggestions for Season 28. Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhaustive political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement.
Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction.'
It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long-term interests of the franchise. We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it's their call. I'll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions.
After spending so many years smiling up a storm on Dancing with the Stars, and formerly on America's Funniest Home Videos, Tom Bergeron seems like a super-affable and endlessly non-confrontational person. Never would I have expected him to take to social media to speak out against the show and its contestants in any way.
As it was made fairly firmly clear in his Twitter post, though, Tom Bergeron did indeed have some strong initial feelings about the kinds of celebrities Dancing with the Stars invited to compete. His ideal scenario would have been having all 12 celebrities coming from walks of life that steered wide of political subject matter, or likely any other personalities that would have sparked polarization within the viewership.
Instead of sticking with that reported plan, Dancing with the Stars' producers chose to recruit one of the most controversial former members of Donald Trump's administration. Serving as the White House's Press Secretary and later Communications Director during the months of January through July 2017, Spicer was accused various times of lying and/or being wrong during press conferences. He eventually resigned on July 21, and was replaced by the equally headline-friendly Anthony Scaramucci.
Having been portrayed multiple times on SNL by Melissa McCarthy, Sean Spicer returned to the public eye for a divisive appearance on the Stephen Colbert-hosted Emmy Awards in 2017. Since, he's kept mostly to himself, although he still pops up every so often to talk about making a return to the zeitgeist.
Spicer's White House moments aren't the kinds of memories that Tom Bergeron is wanting viewers to think about while watching Dancing with the Stars, of course. In his post, Bergeron continued speaking his mind by sharing what his own P.O.V. is during each episode.
For me, as a host, I always gaze into the camera's lens and imagine you on the other side, looking for a two-hour escape from whatever life hassles you've been wrestling with. That's a connection, and a responsibility, which I take very seriously, even if I occasionally season it with dad jokes.
Hopefully, when Erin Andrews and I look into those lenses again on September 16, you'll be on the other side looking back, able to enjoy the charismatic pro dancers, the unpredictable judges, and the kitschy charm that has defined DWTS since 2005.
Not that Tom Bergeron was the only one out there disappointed with ABC and Dancing with the Stars' decision to bring Sean Spicer into the mix. Twitter is currently lit up with posts from users declaring they won't be watching the new season if Spicer is allowed to remain a contestant.
Tom Bergeron himself had previously clued fans in on some big changes that were coming to Dancing with the Stars' new season, based on last season's backlash over several fan-favorite contestant pairings being eliminated, with Bobby Bones and Sharna Burgess winning out despite not doing nearly as well as their competition. Bringing in political figures likely wasn't part of the changes Bergeron was talking about, though.
Will ABC back down and replace Sean Spicer after the backlash surrounding his involvement, or is the studio thinking that all publicity is good publicity for the new season of Dancing with the Stars? We'll have to wait and see, but considering the show's premiere on ABC is on Monday, September 16, at 8:00 p.m. ET.