Samantha Harris co-hosted Dancing with the Stars alongside Tom Bergeron from Seasons 2 through 9 and said at the time she was leaving because her other gig at Entertainment Tonight needed her more … but now she's setting the record straight.
Longtime fans of Dancing with the Stars may recall the easy banter between co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris from 2006 to 2009. Then, Harris announced she was leaving the show to work more for Entertainment Tonight … which was only part of the story.
Speaking with retired DWTS pro Cheryl Burke on the Sex, Lies and Spray Tans podcast, Harris is finally opening up about what really happened behind the scenes. She also revealed an awkward conversation she had about her weight that did not go the way she expected.
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Harris did concede that after she left DWTS she did pick up more travel work for ET, but that was still just the cover story she and ABC agreed to share with the press. The truth was that they just wanted to let her go.
“That was painful to tell that story,” said Harris, who described DWTS as her dream job and one she would have happily continued doing forever.
According to Harris, DWTS executive producer Conrad Green told her, “Look, we’re going into season 10, network executives have decided that they need something to look different on the show.”
“They need something really different to keep eyeballs watching,” she continued. “So, the thing that the network came up with is, ‘Well, the first thing you see when you turn on the TV are the hosts. So let’s change one of them.'”
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Bergeron had been a popular face at the network, also hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos, and so she had a sense his job wasn’t in jeopardy, which could only mean– “Unfortunately, that meant I was the one who had to take the axe.”
This wasn’t the first time Harris was the subject of a discussion regarding changing the way something looks. Just two years prior, she says she got a “note” that turned into a meeting to discuss the way her body looked, which was apparently problematic for some higher-ups.
“My interpretation was they said to me, ‘You need to be pasty and pudgy,'” Harris recalled. “Really what they said to me was you’re getting too tan and too toned.”
She said that she was told her it was “confusing” to viewers seeing her standing next to professional dancers because she was starting to look too much like them.
“And so that’s confusing for them and they need to be able to relate to you as the host being basically a complete dichotomy next to the dancers,” Harris claimed she was told.
Harris said they told her to stop self-tanning, and even lose some of her tone. “Usually you’re told to lose weight, I was actually told to gain weight,” she said.
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She then laughed and said she told them at the time it was no problem to take these notes. “Little did they know, I was pregnant so I wasn’t going to be tanning … and I was going to be gaining weight,” she told Burke. “So there ya go.”
At the same time, though, she said she was “stunned” to hear this feedback because she “took a lot of pride that I was tanned and toned.”
She did say, though, that the network was “amazing” after she shared that she was pregnant, doing what they could to accommodate her and modify her schedule. She welcomed her child in 2007.
Talk then continued down the path of shifting hosts and co-hosts, with Bergeron himself finally getting the boot after Season 28. Brooke Burke had replaced Harris through Season 17 in 2013 when she herself was replaced with Erin Andrews. Andrews and Bergeron were let go together.
At that time, the show controversially brought in Tyra Banks in to host, with Harris telling Burke she “couldn’t watch it.” As ratings continued to decline and fans trashed the new host, ABC punted the series over to Disney+ for Season 31 and brought in former champ Alfonso Ribeiro to co-host.
By Season 32, with the Hollywood strikes possibly a factor in the decision, Banks was gone and the show was back on ABC with RIbeiro now co-hosting alongside Julianne Hough. Ratings were pretty solid and the show seems to be stable on the network again.
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