Tom Bergeron hosting Dancing with the Stars
(Eric McCandless via Getty Images)

Tom Bergeron Was ‘Screwed’ by Dancing with the Stars After Casting ‘Betrayal’

Tom Bergeron knew exactly when his time was up on Dancing with the Stars. The affable host helmed the series from 2005 to 2020 and was hugely popular with the show’s fans. His termination heralded a dark period on DWTS and ushered in the long national nightmare that was (shudder) Tyra Banks.

Tom says it used to be the practice for show executives to host meetings to discuss the upcoming season and potential guests. In 2019, as the US approached another contentious Presidential election, Tom suggested that viewers needed an escape from politics. He recommended that showrunners avoid casting political figures from either party.

But sadly, they didn’t listen. In addition to relocating the show from ABC to streaming platform Disney+ (which many older viewers didn’t understand how to access), the removal of Tom and his co-host Erin Andrews tanked the show’s ratings. Recalling the events leading up to his termination, Tom spoke with former DWTS pro Cheryl Burke on her Sex, Lies and Spray Tans podcast.

A controversial casting

Tom Bergeron Dancing with the Stars
Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images

Even though he thought they were all in agreement, the host received a “phone call from the showrunner and another producer” who ran down the list of celebrities they had selected for Season 28.

The showrunner told him, “You might want to sit down for this last one.” When he asked why, they told him that ex-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was on the list.

Shocked, Tom responded, “Guys, this is exactly what we said we wouldn’t do. Don’t go there. This is … not the right time, play to our strengths, be the show that gives people a break from all this bullsh*t.”

Looking for a compromise, the host offered to “take the season off.” But the producer came back with a counteroffer to “let you out of your contract, if you want.”

The curt response “really pissed me off,” the Massachusetts native admits. He had tried to be “Switzerland” until his “temper kicked in.” That’s when he knew it “wasn’t going to be pretty.” 

A very public statement

Tom Bergeron, Dancing with the Stars former host
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

That was when Tom decided to issue a statement to “let people know that they f*cking lied to me.” 

“So I wrote the statement,” he says now. No names or a political party were mentioned. “It merely said, ‘I was told certain things when I was asked my opinion, they agreed, and now they’ve thrown a curveball’ … If that’s what [the producers of the show] want to do, they are entitled to do that. We will have to agree to disagree.”

When Spicer was announced on Good Morning America, public outrage erupted. “At that moment, I knew this was probably my last season,” Tom says, “because of that one betrayal.”

But before leaving the show, “I wanted the viewers to know this was a step too far,” he adds. “[Especially] on the cusp of an election year … Had it been a Democrat, same statement.”

The fan favorite saw the writing on the wall. “There was no blue period,” he admits. “Actually, I think Erin and I had more fun being fired than virtually anybody.”

Dancing with the stars – without Tom Bergeron – continues Tuesdays on ABC and Disney+.