Late Tuesday, ABC and BBC Studios’ Los Angeles gave a joint statement that after 28 seasons with the show, Tom Bergeron would be leaving Dancing with the Stars with his co-host, Erin Andrews, following suit. But as two are leaving, only one will replace them: Tyra Banks.
“I’ve been a fan of DWTS since its beginning … The fun mixed with raw emotion, seeing celebrities push past their comfort zones, the sizzling dance performances … it’s always transported me to my days of turning it up 10 notches on the catwalk,” said Banks who will also be serving as an executive producer for the show. “Tom has set a powerful stage, and I’m excited to continue the legacy and put on my executive producer and hosting hats.”
Banks will be working in collaboration with DWTS’ executive producer/showrunner, Andrew Llinares and is said to “bring her energy and inspiration to the creative refresh the team is planning while honoring the show America loves.”
“As we gear up for the show’s 29th season, we can’t wait to welcome Tyra Banks to our Dancing stage,” said Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment. “Tyra is an award-winning multihyphenate whose fierce female prowess and influence across many industries have made an indelible mark. Her fresh take on America’s favorite dancing competition will surely bring more than a ‘Smize’ to fans everywhere.”
Once a juggernaut in the ratings game, Dancing with the Stars’ ratings have paled in comparison for the last couple of years. Each season ABC has tried out new tricks to revive the show but one element of the show has never changed until now. Tom Bergeron stepped into the ballroom 15 years ago with Lisa Canning by his side. Since that time, Tom has worked with different co-hosts over the years, but his chemistry with Erin was the best pairing.
It isn’t clear why ABC made the hosting change. It could be part of the show’s “refresh” or perhaps the salaries of the two stars was beginning to climb to uncomfortable levels, but whatever the reason, it doesn’t appear as if Tom or Erin wanted the change, although they have been professional about.
“Just informed @DancingABC will be continuing without me. It’s been an incredible 15 year run and the most unexpected gift of my career. I’m grateful for that and for the lifelong friendships made. That said, now what am I supposed to do with all of these glitter masks?” tweeted Bergeron Monday ahead of the official announcement.
Andrews was equally classy and humorous saying, “Thank you ABC and the entire Dancing with the Stars family for 6 memorable seasons. Those years wouldn’t have been as special without my loving host Tom Bergeron, the talented dancers and witty judges. I will always cherish my days on that set, even if I wasn’t the best at walking in heels.”
Fans everywhere are crying foul about the change to the ABC show. There is already a Change.org petition asking for the network to change its mind. Why? Because among all of the glitz and glamour of the show, Tom and Erin presented themselves as everyday folks. They found the same humor in things that we viewers did and they never took themselves too seriously. Tom would often console sobbing stars who were eliminated from the competition and Erin would openly share her stories from her own time performing as one of the “stars” earlier one. Tyra on the other hand is not known for being as warm.
Banks is a supermodel turned super-businesswoman with a long list of impressive titles including being the first African American model to be featured on the cover of Sport Illustrated’s swimsuit edition in 1996, named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment, Entertainment Weekly’s 25 Smartest in Television, and was America’s No. 1 host two seasons running on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, a role that showed that she could let her hair down.
While Banks has proven she can be a good host, it remains to be seen if she will be a good fit for Dancing with the Stars, and honestly, the way that COVID-19 is affecting everything these days, the show could be headed for an even steeper uphill battle.
Fans have said for years that the problems plaguing the show has not been the hosts, the judges, the dancers or even the stars. The biggest problem has been with the scoring. Although the three professional judges’ scores count toward 50% of each dancer’s score, the other 50% came from viewers and often, they couldn’t tell a good dancer from a bad one. Even with the very first season, there was an upset when John O’Hurley and dance partner Charlotte Jorgensen lost to soap star Kelly Monaco and Alex Mazo. A rematch special was shown a week or two later with O’Hurley winning that round. Since then, almost every season featured at least one star that was sent packing too soon when fans voted for who they wanted to win rather than who was the best dancer.
No announcement has been made as to when season 29 will begin this fall or who will be competing.
Main Image: ABC and Tyra Banks
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.