"Dawson's Creek" star James Van Der Beek, timeless supermodel Christie Brinkley and recent "Bachelorette" Hannah Brown will be among those kicking up their heels for season 28 — as will former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who, unlike the others, has already proved to be a controversial pick among fans on social media and even with the show's host.
Shortly after the casting news broke, the show's Emmy-winning leading man, Tom Bergeron, took to Twitter and commented on the topic without ever mentioning Spicer by name.
"A few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS' new Executive Producer, I offered suggestions for Season 28," Bergeron wrote under the heading "some thoughts about today." "Chief among them was my hope that DWTS, in its return following an unprecedented year-long hiatus, would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement."
But as he added, and as Tuesday's cast announcement made it clear, "Subsequently (and rather obviously), a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction.'"
Bergeron, who's emceed the star-studded reality TV competition since it debuted in June 2005, went on to explain that ultimately, it wasn't his call to make.
"It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long term interests of the franchise," he continued. "We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it's their call. I'll leave it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions."
Bergeron's decision to speak directly to fans about the behind-the-scenes discussions with the-powers-that-be is a rare one — one that he didn't feel the need to make after past political figures joined the ballroom bash, including former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay in season nine and now-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in season 23.
But the current polarizing climate prompted him to make sure viewers were aware of his feeling about all of this — and his feelings for them.
"For me, as host, I always gaze into the camera's lens and imagine you are on the other side, looking for a two hour escape from whatever life hassles you've been wrestling with," he wrote. "That's a connection, and a responsibility, which I take very seriously, even if I occasionally season it with dad jokes."
In closing, Bergeron added, "Hopefully, when (co-host) Erin Andrews and I look into those lenses again on September 16, you'll be on the other side looking back, able to enjoy the charismatic pro dancers, the unpredictable judges and the kitschy charm that has defined DWTS since 2005."