Dancing with the Stars Backstage Report: Samantha's Coming Back! by Deborah Starr Seibel
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Results night at Dancing with the Stars was chock full of comings and goings. First came word that cohost Samantha Harris
would return from maternity leave next week. "She'll be here for our script meeting on Saturday," says host Tom Bergeron
, who has kept in close contact with Harris. "And then she'll be back on the air Monday night."
Bergeron had predicted that Harris would be back within a month. She gave birth to a baby girl, Josselyn, on Sept. 23, the day before Dancing's fifth-season premiere. "When she starts talking about Josselyn, she gets all gushy," says Bergeron. "My girls are 19 and 17 now and I'm having a lot of 'sense' memory just talking to Samantha. I said, 'Doesn't baby head smell great?' And she said, 'You're right. Baby head is wonderful.'"
Bergeron, known for his wicked sense of humor, says he suggested to the stars backstage that it would be interesting "if they all started to cry like a baby when she's interviewing them — just to see if it forces her to lactate on television. It actually happened to my wife once when she was out at dinner and a baby started crying at another table. It's that inner wiring that keeps the species alive."
What's kept Bergeron alive and well these first few weeks is the easy camaraderie he's shared with Harris' substitute, Season 2 champ Drew Lachey
. "It worked on a lot of levels," says Bergeron. "First of all, it wasn't what people were expecting — two guys hosting a ballroom show. Then there's the fact that we're friends, so we have an easy chemistry, a nice passing game, if you will. And he's hosting the spin-off show in January [Dance Wars], so it was a great opportunity to give him some live-TV muscles." How would Bergeron assess Lachey's progress? "He's a natural."
The night also featured the delightful return of Billy Ray Cyrus
, performing with his red-hot daughter, Miley. Miley Cyrus' tour may be the hottest ticket in the country right now, but in this ballroom, Daddy ruled. Billy Ray got a lot more applause than his talented offspring.
As for this season's dancing celebrities, Jane Seymour
's return had a less raw feeling on this second night. When she performed on Monday, her exquisite face had a pinched, haunted look. Twenty-four hours later, the strain was still apparent, but she looked a little more rested. Her husband, James Keach, says that dancing has been wonderful therapy. "I think it's probably the best thing that could ever happen to Jane," says Keach. "It's given her the ability to creatively express some of the grief. And also some of the joy."
But at a cost. Seymour had to fly halfway around the world to attend her mother's funeral in London, rehearse her tango all week with pro partner Tony Dovolani
, and fly back — all within the space of six days. "In our family, the show must go on," says Keach. "We were together. We flew over there. We just did it. We didn't even think about it. Jane is a very focused person and — very much like her mother — she doesn't look at the glass as being half empty. It's always half full."
As it is for Mark Cuban
, who had the look of a 10-year-old boy who got picked for his favorite team. Cuban not only made it to the next round, he didn't even land in the bottom two. Cuban stood by the door, shaking hands with audience members on their way out and telling them, "Thanks for coming." He then turned to this reporter to say, "I'm gonna shake hands with everybody so now maybe they'll vote." We haven't seen this kind of hardcore public relations since Cyrus left last season. He was famous for climbing into the bleachers during commercial breaks to meet the fans. Cuban's partner, Kym Johnson
, looked positively stunned that they're still in the game. Is the entire state of Texas voting for their native son? "They must be," she said.
And as for Wayne Newton
, there was a send-off you had to be in the room to see: When the cameras stopped rolling, the stars and their pro partners all bowed to Newton in a "we are not worthy" gesture of love. Rarely has a celebrity generated such goodwill. But like Jerry Springer and George Hamilton before him, Newton was relieved to head for the showers. Is he going to miss dancing? "No," he said, laughing. "Because this has been grueling. I'm not terribly upset." And why should he be? He wanted to learn to dance, and his partner, two-time champ Cheryl Burke
, has already agreed to teach Newton and his wife, Kathleen, privately. For Burke, it was a great life experience. "He's a legend," she said. "I'm honored to dance with him."