Jerry Springer needs a pep talk. A good one.
The TV ringmaster/radio talk-show host/former mayor of Cincinnati is dreading his debut on the third season of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” premiering Sept. 12 (8 p.m. EDT). In his opinion, he’s not young enough (at 62), hip enough or flexible enough — and won’t last but a nanosecond on the dance floor.
Springer, guided by partner Kym Johnson, a professional dancer, will face off against a collection of 10 celebs of varying wattage. Among them: Vivica A. Fox, Harry Hamlin, Tucker Carlson of MSNBC, former beauty queen Shanna Moakler, three-time Super Bowl champion Emmitt Smith, Mario Lopez and ‘90s teen idol Joey Lawrence.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Springer talked about taking on Tucker, learning to dance and his desperate need of a self-esteem boost.
AP: A lot of people are commenting, “What — Jerry Springer’s on that show?”
Springer: This is not a combo you would have put together. It wasn’t the first name people thought of when they said, “Who’d be a good dancer?” ... When I met (Johnson), she said, “Well, what do you wanna work on?” And I said, “The only thing you gotta know is CPR.” There’s no one within 30 years of my age. There’s no chance, unless they have an old-man division.
AP: Well, John O’Hurley won the first season [dance-off].
Springer: For each one, they get one old guy. I’m the guy. I’m so honored! It’s gonna be — everything hurts. My hair hurts.
AP: How rigorous is the dance training?
Springer: Well, understand: For me, standing is rigorous ... It’s exercise, and I’m certainly not used to that. But so far, I’m breathing. I know at the end of each week — of each performance — the country gets to vote you off. Have they ever voted someone off in the middle of a dance, though?
AP: Not on this show.
Springer: I was hoping I could get stopped early.
AP: You need a better attitude!
Springer: I know! I’m trying. Everybody’s telling me that, but it’s just reality. You got all these young people and they’ve had good training, they’re talented, they’re good-looking, their bodies are really cut. My body’s in shape, but the shape is a circle ... You know, I just think parents ought to get their children away from the set when I start dancing. It’s not pretty.
AP: How do you think you’ll stack up against Tucker Carlson?
Springer: Well, you know, he’ll whip me. He’ll whip my butt. Let’s be honest. First of all, he’s 25 years younger than I am. Secondly, he probably went to all these good Eastern schools. He probably went to the cotillion ball. I can’t compete with Tucker ... Maybe I could just introduce the acts. Do you think that they’d let me do that?
AP: You could do your trademark Final Thought.
Springer: (laughs) Yeah, that’s it. The Final Thought as people are voted off. I’ll give a final thought about each of them.
AP: How did you get involved with this?
Springer: I don’t know, someone was drinking apparently ... I guess the final thing was my daughter, Katie, is getting married in December. And so we talked it over and I said, “Wouldn’t it be great if I knew how to dance at my daughter’s wedding?” That I wouldn’t step on her train or feet. So that’s my goal. I hope I’ll last long enough to learn how to dance for my daughter’s wedding.
AP: How is your dance partner treating you?
Springer: She’s just as nice as can be. And she’s so tolerant ... It’s like if you went to a nursing home and you did a square dance with people, you would keep on eye on them to make sure they’re OK. There’s a lot of “You OK?... You OK?”
AP: So, really, what’s going to happen that first show?
Springer: Here’s what I think’s gonna happen. All right, so the dance starts and I miss a step — which is likely — then all of a sudden, you can’t stop and start over. You gotta catch up because it’s choreographed. So that’s my nightmare. That I’ve missed a step, I’m trying to catch up and I never catch up to what she’s doing. And I’m just out there flailing away.
AP: You are so not excited about this!
Springer: You know, it’s only television. That’s what I keep saying. It’s only television.
AP: When you are not dancing, you wear so many hats. What’s your favorite?
Springer: Well, my biggest passion is politics ... that’s what I really get into. The rest I enjoy, but that’s how I make my living. It’s not my passion, it’s just what I do.
AP: Is there another run for office ahead?
Springer: It’s possible one day, but I’m not exactly planning right now.
AP: How long do you plan to do your TV talk show?
Springer: For about another 73 years, then I’m gonna stop. I have no idea. The talk show has a life of its own. It has a niche and it’s found a niche. I’ve been very lucky.