'Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars' Interview: Tom Bergeron Talks Curveballs, Improv and Emmys
'Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars' Interview: Tom Bergeron Talks Curveballs, Improv and Emmys
Laurel Brown
Laurel Brown
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
We're right in the middle of the Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars season, so who better to tell us how it's all going than Tom Bergeron? Check out what he had to say in a recent chat we had with this Emmy-winning DWTS host.

BuddyTV: How does this season of Dancing with the Stars compare to other seasons?

Tom Bergeron: Having the All-Stars, having the people that have done it before come back -- all of whom are friends... I remember saying at the TCA when we first announced the cast, somebody said, "How are you going to host it different?" and I said, "I don't have to be nice to everybody! I don't have to coddle them, because they're all veterans."

And we're kind of expanding on that central premise by mixing it up and throwing them curveballs and trying to keep them a bit more off-balance. Because they're obviously so much more adept at doing it than a normal cast would be. And I think you can see that this past week when they all did the iconic dances, and it was just a level that you usually wouldn't see until the finale almost.

So the advantage is we have these people who you know and love and who've been there. The disadvantage is we've got to find ways to make them a little more uncomfortable.


BuddyTV: So are we going to be seeing any more curveballs like this week's new dance styles?

Tom Bergeron: Yes, you will. Nothing that I can tell you about right now -- because I'd be incurring the wrath of the producers -- but definitely it doesn't end with this past week. We have Paula [Abdul] coming on next week [ed. note: He means week 4.] as a guest judge, and they all picked dances for each other.

Some were better at the whole idea of strategizing than others... Was it when Louis was telling Sabrina? I forget which dance it was that... "If you give them this, it's going to be harder. And if you give them that, they'll like it." So Sabrina's so nice, she gave them the one that she thought they'd like. No! That's not what the strategy's about!

So yeah, we'll be throwing them more curveballs. It was interesting: In the dress rehearsal, all they knew was that they'd be picking a style of dance for each other. We had 10... 11... 10 completely different styles of dance for the dress rehearsal. We didn't let them know how it would happen. We just did a random way of doing it at dress rehearsal. And Maks was... [laughing] Maks was like trying to get information right out of me right after the dress rehearsal. "How's this gonna work?" "You're going to have to wait and find out on the air live." "Oh... But... But how's it gonna work?" I said, "I'm not gonna tell you."


BuddyTV: I can believe that, based on the reactions during the show... So with all of these curveballs and with all of this returning talent, do you have any way of predicting who might actually win this season?

Tom Bergeron: Not really, no. And I'm not that great generally. I think I might, in major-league baseball, I'd be doing OK. I'd probably bat about .500. But I think [Jimmy] Kimmel does a better job predicting the winners than I do, quite frankly.


BuddyTV: What is a typical week for you on Dancing with the Stars?

Tom Bergeron: Well, I will be... On Friday, I go in for a production meeting. And then, on Sunday I go back and do any voiceovers and watch some of the blocking rehearsals -- where the couples are coming in for the first time on stage, for the director to see what they have planned. There's another production meeting then. And then, of course, Monday, Tuesday show days start early with script meetings, into the live show out to the East Coast by about 5 o'clock. And so Wednesday, Thursday is typically my weekend. And that's often when I go off and shoot the America's Funniest Videos show.


BuddyTV: That does keep you busy.

Tom Bergeron: Yeah.


BuddyTV: Since you mentioned the script meetings, how much of what you say on the live show is scripted and how much is improvised?

Tom Bergeron: Quite a bit is improvised. The scripted part is largely going to a commercial, coming back from a commercial, when we want to get specific shots where the director and producer say, "OK, we wanna billboard, this couple's coming up, that couple's coming up."

But interestingly, this past week, we even took some of that and made it more improvisational with the elimination part of the show -- who's safe, who's in jeopardy, that kind of thing. We tried something that made that a little looser as well. So we're finding ways to -- I mean, I prefer it personally. I prefer it just being more conversational between the viewer and responding to the live show. But some of it, particularly in the going-to and coming-back-from commercials, needs to be a little bit more scripted, because we're taking specific shots, rolling tapes and things.


BuddyTV: Finally, what can you say about what it was like to win the Emmy this year?

Tom Bergeron: Oh, it was great! It's funny though -- I went into complete hosting mode. Because they give you this little lecture beforehand that you have 40 seconds from the time your name is mentioned until the end of your speech and the orchestra will start playing. So I went completely into host mode. I bolted out of that seat like a starting pistol had gone off. I apologized to my wife after. I said, "I didn't even turn and give you a kiss!" I just -- boom, I was up!

But it felt great.


Check out all of the curveballs and improv for yourself when Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8pm and Tuesdays at 9pm on ABC.

(Images courtesy of ABC)