Tom Bergeron Recalls DWTS Firing “They Had Screwed Me”

DANCING WITH THE STARS - "Disney Night" - There will be Disney magic in the ballroom as nine celebrity and pro-dancer couples compete on the fifth week of the 2019 season of "Dancing with the Stars," live, MONDAY, OCT. 14 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. (ABC/Eric McCandless) TOM BERGERON, MICKEY MOUSE, ERIN ANDREWS

Tom Bergeron recalls the divisive casting of Sean Spicer on Dancing with the Stars and how it led to his firing

Former Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron recalls the events that led to his abrupt firing before the 2020 season during an interview with former DWTS pro Cheryl Burke on her Sex, Lies and Spray Tans podcast. Tom co-hosted the show from 2005 though 2019.

Back in 2019, Tom recalled meeting with DWTS executives for lunch to discuss the upcoming season. At the time, he asked that producers NOT cast any politicians from either party. With political anxiety at sky-high levels, he believed that the show should provide fans a “wonderful escape” from the negative divisive state of the country.

Tom claims that they agreed. But eventually he received a phone call from the show runner (Andrew Llinares at the time) and another producers who went over the list of celebrities set to compete on the show. And contrary to what Tom says they agreed upon, former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer was on the list.

Guys, this is exactly what we said we wouldn’t do. Don’t go there

“And this former showrunner says to me, ‘You might want to sit down for this last one.’ I said ‘Why?’ And then they told me who it was,” he continued. Alluding to ex-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as “the former press guy for [then-President Donald] Trump,” Tom recalled that “I said, ‘Guys, this is exactly what we said we wouldn’t do. Don’t go there. This is, you know, not the right time, play to our strengths, be the show that gives people a break from all this bulls—.”

The producers refused to change their minds. Tom offered to “take the season off” to which the showrunner and the producer offered to “let you out of your contract if you want.”

“That’s how strongly they really pissed me off,” Tom said.

“They f*****g lied to me”

Tom was furious, he explained to Cheryl. But at first he tried to play “Switzerland,” but eventually, his “temper kicked in” leading to Tom posting a statement on Twitter (now X) to “let people know that they f*****g lied to me.”

In the statement, Tom said he’d hoped Season 28 “would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations,” adding “A decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.”

“So I wrote the statement that I wrote, that did not name anybody, that did not name a political party,” he explained. “It merely said, ‘I was told certain things when I was asked my opinion, they agreed, and now they’ve thrown a curveball.’ I even went so far as to say it’s their right to do that. They’re the producers of the show. If that’s what they want to do, they are entitled to do that. We will have to agree to disagree.”

“They had screwed me. I’m gonna screw them”

Cheryl asked if the producers knew about the statement before he posted it. “They didn’t deserve to know,” he answered.

They had screwed me. I’m gonna screw them,” he reasoned. “But I wanted the viewers to know this was a step too far to me. This was a step too far on the cusp of an election year. And again — had it been a Democrat, same statement.”

“This is probably my last season because of that one betrayal”

Tom stayed on for season 28, but he knew at the time “this is probably my last season because of that one betrayal… up until that point, there were people of character there.” And indeed, the following season Tom and his co-host Erin Andrews were fired, replaced with Top Model Tyra Banks. She also received an executive producer credit (Tyra left the show after three seasons. Alfonso Ribeiro and Julianne Hough are the current co-hosts)

Spicer’s appearance on the show turned out to indeed be divisive. He held court on right wing website Breitbart every Sunday night to post his voting numbers and rail against the snowflake liberals complaining about his presence on the show. Trump and his kids and staff posted Spicer’s phone numbers with details on when to vote. Watching the show completely unnecessary! As a result, Spicer, arguably the worst dancer in the cast, lasted until the Top 6.

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