Tom Bergeron may not be ‘Dancing,’ but don’t count him out

TV Pipeline

Tom Bergeron

Q: I was very disappointed to hear that Tom Bergeron was being let go from “Dancing With the Stars.” Was there a reason given for it? — Carol Little, Reading, Pa.

A: The general explanation offered by ABC was that it wants to go in “a different creative direction” with the competition when it returns in the new television season. Bergeron’s co-host Erin Andrews (a “Dancing” competitor earlier) also was released from the show, then the next day, it was announced that Tyra Banks will be the new host as well as an executive producer.

As closely associated as he’s been with that program since the inception of the American version, it’s hard to imagine that Bergeron won’t pick up another steady television job sooner than later. With his smooth skills, quick wit and unflappable demeanor, he’s one of the “go-to” people to fill a hosting role — and there should be enough of those once TV production returns to relative normalcy. And we can add from firsthand experience that he’s a terrific person, which also can go a long way in hirings and business dealings.

Keith Urban

Q: Is the Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony still scheduled to be on in September? I was looking forward to seeing Keith Urban host. — Mindy Wallace, via e-mail

A: That’s the plan, at least as of the time of this writing. Originally slated for its customary April slot, the event was postponed as the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Soon afterward, the Academy and CBS announced Sept. 16 as the new date for the show, and it remains to be seen exactly how it will be done — though “virtually,” as with so many specials of late, is a good bet.

Urban still is set to host the awards for the first time, and there’s another first for them. They’ve never been staged in Nashville before (they were supposed to be in Las Vegas in April), but they’ll originate from three of that city’s legendary venues: the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe. In the meantime, the Academy is being optimistic about next year and already has scheduled the 2021 edition of the event for April 18.

Q: I have noticed the name Wells Root in the credits of classic TV shows such as “Cheyenne” and “Maverick.” I also have noticed the name Tom Root in the credits of “Robot Chicken” on Cartoon Network. Are these men related to Stephen Root, who currently is on HBO’s “Perry Mason”? — Margaret Sams, Kansas City, Mo.

A: A prolific writer for Western series of the 1950s and 1960s — also including “The Lone Ranger,” “Bat Masterson” and “Wanted: Dead or Alive” — and also the co-screenwriter of the classic 1954 movie “Magnificent Obsession,” Wells Root apparently is not related to the other two men. We can’t find any evidence of that, anyway — nor of Stephen and Tom being related to each other.

Q: What was the real purpose of the “30 Rock” reunion special? It just seemed like a long ad for other shows. — Pete Clark, via e-mail

A: Well, that’s because … it was. The special initially was designed to be a substitute for the annual “upfront” presentation by NBC Universal, at which it presents its new-season lineup to advertisers at a May event in New York (as do other networks). That had to be canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, so NBC came up with the idea to reunite the “30 Rock” cast to do a “virtual” presentation of those plans.

Because such star power was involved with the likes of Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan, among others — and also because NBC had had recent success with a “Parks and Recreation” reunion special — the decision was made to broadcast what was called an “upfront special event.” To a certain degree, though, it ultimately backfired: Many NBC affiliates refused the carry the show, partially because it would have advertised cable and streaming rivals on their airwaves, but also because a good number of them have been smarting over the decision for the new Peacock service (which had a sizable spot in that special) to offer the Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers late-night shows several hours before NBC stations can broadcast them.

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Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

jbobbin has 2411 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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