During a recent appearance on DWTS pro Cheryl Burke’s “Sex, Lies and Spray Tans” podcast, Bergeron said he left the show after criticizing producers for their controversial decision to invite former White House press secretary Sean Spicer to compete.
Bergeron, 68, famously hosted the competition dance show from 2005 to 2020. Despite his 15-year tenure with the production, Bergeron said his insistence that Spicer should not be allowed on DWTS did not go over well.
Bergeron told Burke he envisioned DWTS as a “wonderful escape” from the regular rigmarole of U.S. politics and the state of the country leading up to the 2020 election.
“I said, ‘Guys, this is exactly what we said we wouldn’t do. Don’t go there,'” Bergeron recalled telling a group of the show’s producers over lunch.
The former host said he’d already signed a new three-season contract by the time Spicer was selected in 2019. Regardless of his protestation, Bergeron said DWTS showrunners were set on having Spicer in dance shoes.
Bergeron offered to take the 28th season of DWTS off. In return, DWTS producers offered to release him from the new contract, he said.
“That’s how strongly they felt,” Bergeron explained.
He said the decision to keep Spicer ignited his temper and “really pissed me off.”
“At that moment, I knew this is probably my last season, because of that one betrayal,” Bergeron continued. “Up until that point, there were people of character there.”
Bergeron even released a disapproving personal statement at the time of Spicer’s casting announcement. Though he did not name Spicer specifically, said he was not aligned with the franchise’s decision to book political figures of any affiliation.
“We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call,” he said at the time.
The public’s reaction to Spicer’s casting was similar to Bergeron’s own, with people many outraged to see a political figure, former or active, in the show’s lineup.
Bergeron discussed his personal statement on “Sex, Lies and Spray Tans” and said he wanted DWTS viewers to know the producers threw him “a curveball.”
He said he did not tell network executives before releasing the statement because “they didn’t deserve to know.”
“They had screwed me. I’m gonna screw them,” Bergeron defended. “I wanted the viewers to know this was a step too far. This was a step too far on the cusp of an election year.”
“I would have responded the same way if they had booked Hillary Clinton, whom I voted for,” Bergeron maintained.
DWTS has not released an official statement in response to Bergeron’s latest criticisms.
Bergeron still hosted the 28th season of DWTS. Spicer was voted out after eight weeks of competition.
In July 2020, Bergeron and his then-co-host Erin Andrews both announced they were leaving DWTS. Hosting duties were subsequently filled by Tyra Banks.
Banks departed from DWTS earlier this year and was replaced by Alfonso Ribeiro and Julianne Hough in Season 32.