Former “Dancing With the Stars” host Tom Bergeron was once asked how he feels about the judges and he did not hold back talking about Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, and Bruno Tonioli. He generally thinks they are great at their jobs, but Bergeron did admit that sometimes they’re too hard on the celebrity contestants and their professional partners.
Here is what he had to say.
Which Judge Do the Censors Have to Worry About?
In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Bergeron was asked about the “Dancing With the Stars” judges and he said one of the things he has always loved about the show is that their judging panel has stayed consistent. He then gave a rundown of each judge.
“One of the things that I love about the show and I hope continues is that we’ve kept the same judges, which a lot of shows haven’t. It’s such a wonderful mix of personalities,” said Bergeron.
As far as Goodman goes, Bergeron said, “Len is sort of the crusty stickler.”
With Inaba, Bergeron said, “Carrie Ann is like the girl next door in the neighborhood you wish you lived in.”
And with Tonioli, Bergeron laughed and said, “I said to Bruno on the air once ‘you’re about two emotions shy of living at Pixar’ and he’s gotten more and more animated over the years. But he brings a wonderful boisterous energy. If the censors have to worry about anybody on the show, it’s him.”
Can the Judges Be Too Harsh?
When asked if the judges are too hard on the contestants, Bergeron said, “Yeah, I think so. I think sometimes.
He went on to acknowledge that the judges “know technically what they’re looking for,” but that isn’t always the same thing as what regular viewers and he himself see.
“I don’t look at the dances the same way they do. … I just look at it probably like most of the viewers do — did it move me emotionally, was I impressed with the effort and the execution? And there have been occasions where I thought maybe in the enthusiasm of the moment, [the judges] might have gotten a little too personal and crossed a boundary,” said Bergeron.
But Bergeron said he was “very protective of the couples,” so he always tried to let the judges know when he thought they went too far “whether through humor or snark or whatever.”
He also thinks the criticism that the show is a popularity contest is correct, though he doesn’t see that as something to criticize.
“Every season on the show we’ll get complaints ‘Well, it’s not a dance show, it’s a popularity contest!’ Well, yeah, you’re right, it is partly that. It is partly a dance show, the popularity is informed by the dance,” said Bergeron, adding, “You want a pure dance show, PBS is always there for you.”
He continued, “It’s entertainment. … The variety show aspect and the reality show and the sense of humor and the sexiness of it and the athleticism of it and seeing people that you may be a fan of in an environment that they are totally uncomfortable in and learning something and it’s unfolding right in front of you week to week. All of those have contributed to it being very successful.”
“Dancing With the Stars” season 30 should premiere in September 2021 on ABC.