DwtS Extra: Jerry Springer Interview

This past Friday, I had a chance to chat with Jerry Springer. Jerry was a great interview and a heck of a nice guy. We talked a lot about Dancing with the Stars, and a little bit about politics.

How are you feeling after your run on Dancing with the Stars?
My hair hurts. You know, it was more exercise than I was used to.

You didn’t have a strenuous regimen before doing the show?
Back in ’87, I think I did a knee bend. I do remember doing that. But I don’t think I’ve had any real exercise since then. I play golf, and back when I was younger I played sports. Most guys did. But I haven’t run around or done anything like that for years.

So when you signed up, how long did you think you were going to last?
One week. [The show’s producers] thought so, too. The hotel was only booked for the first week. I was joking around that, that first week, when you show up at the studio to find out if you’ve been voted off, I was the only guy that showed up with his luggage. I was sure I was going home.

I really was the worst dancer. But the people watching were really nice, and I guess they just liked to laugh at me falling over and they kept me on. But clearly, all of the others were better dancers than I am.

I don’t know about that. Tucker was no great shakes either.
Yeah, okay, I figured we were about even. I figured if I was gonna last, it would be between him and me.

The rest, they’re 35 years younger than me. They certainly were coordinated; they knew how to dance going in.

And it was important at the end. That’s why I kept going to the camera and saying, "Please, stop voting," because it would’ve ruined the show. Next year then, everyone would’ve just come on and joked around.

I think it’s important for the integrity of the show that I was voted off — that you let the final four be real dancers. I could be entertaining for a while, but at the end, it was a show about dancing, and it wasn’t appropriate that I was still on. That’s why I kept saying, "Please stop."

So you were being sincere when you asked fans to stop voting for you?
Yeah. I was just being honest the whole time. I said, "This is fun. I enjoy it, and I’m flattered. But it’s not fair."

Plus, these are young people at a really important part of their career. It could be a great boost for them; this could make them stars. So why should I get in the way? I’ve had my run. I’ve been lucky. Let one of the younger people give their career a boost.

You’ve already got the Jerry Springer Show on television, and Springer on the Radio on Air America.
I’ve been lucky. That’s why I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to be on in the first place. I just tried to be entertaining every week.

All of the cast members seem to get along really well. How much time did you spend together?
Starting Monday, we’d be together. I’d fly in on Sunday night or Monday morning, usually Monday morning I’d fly out there and then in the afternoon we’d have the blocking and then the dress rehearsal. Then Tuesday, we’d have the show and then Wednesday, the Results show. So I’d say Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we’d be together.

They were all really, really so nice to me, and I like them all. Every one of them had a great personality, and it was just nice. I’m sure they didn’t see me as a real threat, so it was pretty easy to be hangin’ with me. They weren’t worried that I’d come up with a trick step.

But, if they’d ask me questions — some advice about the business or what they’d be doing — I’d be helpful, of course. They were probably watching my shows when they were in high school, so that was kind of neat.

How often did you see Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris?
I would only see them on Tuesday and Wednesday, and they were really nice. So are the judges. The truth is, everyone associated with the show was really nice. No one had an attitude. For all the bad stories you hear about Hollywood, this was really a nice group. I don’t think we were overcome with any huge egos.

So you said you would fly out there. Where were you training? What was your work schedule like, accommodating the radio show and the TV show?
Well, the radio show I would do from whatever city I was in, but the TV show I would do in Chicago on Thursdays and Fridays, three shows a day. And then Saturday and Sunday we would rehearse, and Monday morning we would fly out to L.A. Because I’m going against the clock, that got me in around noon, and blocking was late afternoon.

So that was usually my schedule. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I’d do the radio show from out in L.A.

So where did you and Kym practice in Chicago, then?
The Fred Astaire Studio and the Arthur Murray Studio, downtown.

By the way, was that her idea for the ruffled shirt for the Samba?
Well, what happens is, they have a wardrobe coordinator, and as soon as the Results Show is over, they tell you what your next dance is for the week. So you have a meeting with the designers, and you talk about what the dance is and what you kinda wanna be looking, and you all discuss it.

Me, I just sat there. The only thing I kept saying was, "Think funny. Think funny." Because if I look like I’m taking it too seriously, it would be offensive to people.

Let’s be honest about this. The honest thing is, I don’t know how to dance. I’m gonna really try, but let’s try to entertain by putting some comedy into it. Make it an entertaining dance rather than an artistically perfect dance. So that’s what I did. We always thought, "What am I gonna look funny in?"

And those [practice clip] packages we do for the next week, I always tried to put some comedy into it.

And it seemed like Kym was really able to play off of you.
She was phenomenal. Phenomenal. She had the toughest job of any of the dancers.

In fairness, all the other pros are wonderful people and great dancers, but they got to dance with people who can dance. So they got to say, "Now we’ll do the split, and now we’ll do the lift, and now we’ll…" So they could just sit down at the drawing board and create this wonderful dance.

Well, she obviously couldn’t do that with me, so considering the limitations of what I could do physically, she was remarkable. And she’s got such a great attitude. She’s a real sweetheart.

Yeah. She’s been a great addition to the show, and I hope she comes back for another season. Now, regarding the other young woman in your life, it’s well known that you did the show for your daughter, Katie. Is she taking dancing lessons, too, in preparation for her wedding? Or does she already know how to dance?
No, she doesn’t. We’re all gonna take lessons someplace and learn how to do the Waltz together. I now know the basic steps, and I can show her, but I don’t trust myself as being a teacher. So I suggested, "Why don’t we go take dancing lessons together and learn it." So that’s what we’re gonna do.

What advice do you have for any fathers who might have to learn this stuff for their daughters’ weddings?
Try to do it in front of less people! You know, trying something in front of 30 million people probably wasn’t the smartest thing I ever thought about.

Are you and Kym going to be back for the finale?
Yes. And then there’s a national tour, which she’s gonna go on, and they’ve invited me to be on as many shows as I can be on. So I’ll see. Trying to balance everything, I’ve gotta figure out what cities I can get to.

I’ve already got my tickets for the Chicago show.
I’ll probably be at that one.

Switching gears, the big question is… Do you think Sherrod Brown’s going to be able to defeat Mike DeWine in your former political stomping grounds of Ohio?
Yeah, I think it looks like it. It’s not a slam dunk because of the great "Get Out the Vote" operation that the Republicans have, so they will always wind up doing a little better than what the polls show. But even if the gap is narrow, and it’s now seven points, my guess is that Sherrod will survive that.

I also think there really will be, and what happened today with that reverend, that really nullifies any concerns people had with what John Kerry had done for the Democrats. I think there is just now such national disgust with the current administration or whatever, I think it’s a sweep year. Every once in a while, it happens. And it’s happened to Democrats, too. It’s not always just bad Republicans. There’s a pendulum, and I think the pendulum’s ready to switch. I think we’re going back the other way.

Even if Saddam’s trial is decided by Monday, is that going to make any difference?
I don’t think it means anything because I don’t think it’s on anyone’s consciousness. People are wondering why we haven’t gotten Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein may be a pig, but he never attacked us.

Americans don’t go around saying, "God, I hate Saddam Hussein." That was someone we were told to hate, but there’s no instinctive feeling of animosity. People intellectually say, "God, this is a very bad person," but I don’t hang around anyone who starts a discussion with, "Oh, that Saddam Hussein…" It’s, "Why the hell are we in Iraq?" Some people think it’s good, some bad, but you never hear talk about Saddam.

So no, I don’t think that has any effect. Plus it looks a little too manipulated. To the extent that it has a political impact, I think it will backfire, because it looks like we talked them into announcing it two days before the election. It’s just so blatant.

Even if the judge did decide that’s when he was going to announce it, wouldn’t you call him and say, "You know what, it’s going to look awful. Couldn’t you just hold it off for a week until after the election?" And of course they would, so it’s clearly a political…it’s just so crass and obvious. But I don’t think it will any effect. No.

Thanks so much for the interview, Jerry!
Thanks, Kath. Take it easy.