UPDATED WITH DWTS RESPONSE: Hours after the newest cast of Dancing with the Stars was revealed, host Tom Bergeron made it clear that he’s not good with at least one of the competing celebrities.
In a message posted on his Twitter account Wednesday, Bergeron said he met with the show’s executive producer earlier this summer and shared how he hoped the ABC show would be a “joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations.”
“I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement,” Bergeron wrote. “Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.'”
Though he didn’t name names, he appears to be referring to the casting of Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s former press secretary.
“It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long-term interests of the franchise,” Bergeron wrote. “We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call.”
DWTS executive producer Andrew Llinares released this statement Wednesday afternoon: “We’ve got a great and diverse cast. We are excited about the season.”
In an interview with EW’s Dalton Ross — airing Wednesday on EW Live on SiriusXM channel 109 from 2-4 p.m. ET — Bergeron spoke further about Spicer joining the show, saying he has “no idea” if voting this season will go along partisan lines. “My preference — it’s not my call, other people book the show — would have been to avoid any political lightning rods,” he said. “I think Dancing at its best is an oasis away from all the divisiveness and all the stuff that we are wrestling with right now. And so that was a call they made, and my job as host, to the best of my ability, is to be Switzerland for those two hours a well. For the other 166 hours a week, it’s pretty clear where I stand politically.”
Spicer joins James Van Der Beek, Christie Brinkley, and Lamar Odom on the cast this year.
This isn’t the first time DWTS has cast potentially polarizing (see: right-leaning) celebrities. Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol was cast in season 11 and came in third place. Duck Dynasty star Sarah Robertson kicked up her heels in season 19 and was the first runner-up. Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, who promoted the “birther” conspiracy theory about former President Barack Obama, joined season 9. He left the show shortly after the premiere following the recommendation of his doctors.
—Additional reporting by Dalton Ross
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