In a Twitter post Wednesday morning, Tom Bergeron — without naming Spicer — criticized the casting of President Donald Trump’s first press secretary and said he had advocated for the show to be a politics-free zone in its 28th season.
“A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS‘ new executive producer [Andrew Llinares], I offered suggestions for season 28,” Bergeron wrote. “Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting 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.'”
The Hollywood Reporter has asked ABC for comment on Bergeron’s statement and will update the story when and if the network responds.
Spicer is not the first Dancing With the Stars contestant to have political ties: The show has previously featured a pre-Fox News Tucker Carlson (season three); former House speaker Tom DeLay (season nine); Bristol Palin (season 11 and the all-star season 15), daughter of former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin; talk-show host and activist Tavis Smiley (season 19); Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera (season 22); and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who is now U.S. Secretary of Energy).
Spicer served as Trump’s press secretary before resigning in July 2017, his tenure notable for a combative first briefing in which he harshly criticized the media over the reporting of the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. Spicer made a brief appearance at the 2017 Emmy Awards on CBS and has written a book, The Briefing: Politics, the Press, and the President, about his time in the White House.
Bergeron’s full statement is below.
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 exhausting 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.
For me, as 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 Sept. 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.