The Taco has 'one concern' for the future of The Masked Singer
Warning: This article contains spoilers about The Masked Singer season 3, episode 6.
Taco, you were definitely yummy on The Masked Singer! Here, Tom Bergeron — the man behind that tomato mask — talks about his crunchy costume and how dancing to "Bossa Nova Baby" was just not in the cards.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tom Bergeron on The Masked Singer! Executive Producer Deena Katz — who also EPs Dancing With the Stars — was smart to come after you. Or did you go after her to be on this show?
TOM BERGERON: She wasn't even involved initially. It was Izzie Pick Ashcroft, who used to executive produce Dancing With the Stars. She saw on my Instagram a little video of a song I did for a Mister Rogers tribute album. She called me and said, "This might be daft, but would you be interested in doing The Masked Singer?" And I thought, why the hell not?
The Taco. Did you go for the goofiest costume around?
Izzie actually gave me two choices: one was a jellyfish and the other one was a taco. And I think she deliberately put the jellyfish in there knowing I would never choose that. I would go for the crazier of the two, which was certainly was the taco.
Was it heavy in the front?
It's unlike any experience I've ever had. I can't tell you what it's like to try to sing an Elvis song in a hard shell. The funny thing about that song too is that we shot that hours after shooting the first show. So I did the Frank Sinatra song "Fly Me to the Moon," which is a bit more in my limited wheelhouse. I was so worried about forgetting the lyrics to "Bossa Nova Baby" that I forgot all the dance moves. So I kind of look like a Taco Franken-Elvis during that particular number.
How many people in your personal circle had to sign the NDA?
My wife and, oddly, my trainer at Equinox, because the rehearsal schedule affected our usual training schedule and I didn't want her to think I suddenly soured on her.
"Bossa Nova Baby" was such a brilliant choice because it really threw everybody off. They didn't know who to guess.
Right. That was the upside. I had to approach it differently than Sinatra. I didn't anticipate that the way I sang that would throw them off as much. But boy, it was fun to watch.
"Fly Me to the Moon" was a huge crowd favorite. Did you start to feel like maybe you could go the distance?
Oh god, no, no, no. Have you heard some of the other singers? They're really good. When I took the mask off and Ken was upset that I wasn't Martin Short and Jenny said, "Oh, I wish you had gone on" I said, "Look, this is the most work I've done in years. I'm fine. Three and out is good."
Have you been a fan of the show?
Apart from the wonderful, infectious, crazy format is that so many of the people who work on Masked Singer have also worked on Dancing over the years. What made it even more bizarre is that the Masked Singer is shot on the exact same soundstage as Dancing. So during the period, which was only a few days that I was there, I had a little mask on and a hoodie and a "Don't talk to me" sweatshirt. I couldn't acknowledge the people that I usually would hug in the hall. I had to keep walking by them.
Did Len Goodman ever call you and say, "Dude, I know you're the Taco?"
No, I have not heard from Len or Bruno [Tonioli] or Carrie Ann [Inaba]. Matter of fact, there's a wonderful picture that I'll post late tonight. There are many Dancing alums on the show. Some of the gang was stunned when I took the mask off. So we did this lovely group reunion shot with me and my tomato head off.
You've obviously been a host your whole life. You're not known for singing, even though you can clearly sing. Did you take lessons at some point?
No. Just out of high school, I was part of a little singing trio and I did the odd regional theater production. I was in The Fantasticks and one reviewer said — this is years ago — that it was like watching a swashbuckling Rob Petrie. All I needed was an ottoman.
As someone who's been on a reality show for a really long time, what do you think of The Masked Singer and can you see it sticking around for a very long time?
I can. The only concern I would have for them is the same concern I have for any show that becomes wildly popular and then a network tries to squeeze every last drop out of it like what happened with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire years ago when Regis Philbin was hosting and in the heyday of Dancing With the Stars — I remember there was one season where we were on for three nights in a row. My folks were alive then and they said, "Honey, we love you. But that's a lot." That'd be my only concern, that they don't exhaust the format too quickly.
Does that mean you're cool with the idea of Dancing With the Stars only running once a season?
I think that's right for now. We don't even have a firm pickup for the fall. So I'm clueless as to what the plans are at the network for it. I think they've spoken optimistically about it over the past few months, but there's nothing official yet. But that said, the show is 15 years old. It's fine to do once a year. And that works so well in England with the mothership, Strictly Come Dancing.
Celebs compete in this reality-singing TV show while wearing elaborate costumes to conceal their identities. Can you guess the celebrity behind the mask?