“Dancing with the Stars” will have a new host for Season 29.
Smize and and bear it.
Tyra Banks’ first month hosting “Dancing with the Stars” has not been the smoothest waltz. Following the ABC competition’s Sept. 14 launch, Twitter critics denounced her performance and called for the return of Tom Bergeron, who hosted the series since its 2005 debut, and Erin Andrews, who entered the ballroom for Season 18 in 2014.
Then came last week’s botched elimination, due to what Banks says was a computer error, when she pronounced Monica Aldama and her pro partner safe, only to later banish them to the bottom two.
But Banks, who at 46 is an accomplished businesswoman, model, producer and Daytime Emmy-winning former talk-show host, tells USA TODAY she pays very little mind to negative commentary.
“I know it exists, but what good does that do, participating in that?” she says. “I don’t think there’s anything really positive from that.”
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“Dancing with the Stars” host Tyra Banks. (Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC)
Still, she understands that the familiarity of the previous version of “DWTS” was a source of comfort for viewers.
“Change is hard, change is complicated, change is painful sometimes,” she says. “So I respect their challenge with change, but I also respect the multiple millions more people that are coming and watching the show with the changes too.”
While ratings among adults ages 18 to 49 is up this season, according to Nielsen, the show’s total audience is down 6%, to 7.8 million viewers, from last fall.
Banks reveals she “sat on” the ABC’s offer to join “DWTS” “for quite a while,” describing the show as “a legacy” and “Americana.” She says she’s watched the show from the beginning.
“It took me a while, because I knew that it was gonna be a big deal if I were to say yes to it,” she recalls. A conversation with her mom left her convinced, although she got a bit of advice: “You just gotta make sure you can add your own special sizzle to it. You can’t just step in. You have to bring your thing to it.”
One way she made the show her own is by adding an emphasis on fashion, serving multiple looks styled by Brendon Alexander in each episode. Despite last week’s changing snafu that had her holding up an unzipped outfit on live TV, she’s pressing on. “We’re not gonna let that get us down,” she says. “We’re gonna keep changing clothes; people want it.”
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Following last week’s slip-ups, Banks says she still prefers live TV because it relieves her of lengthy editing sessions as one of the show’s producers. Banks co-created, hosted and served as an executive producer for “America’s Next Top Model,” a reality competition that aired on UPN and CW. (It’s where she coined “smize,” which means to smile with your eyes.) She hosted “America’s Got Talent” in 2017 and 2018.
The unpredictability of live TV is risky, so it’s no surprise Banks is drawn to.
She acknowledges Bergeron left “big shoes to fill,” but welcomes the challenge. “His (comedic) timing’s impeccable. I know that when you come into something that has been around for a long time, some people are not going to be comfortable with that,” she adds. “But obviously I still took the opportunity. That’s just who I am. I go toward risk. I go toward putting myself out there. I go toward taking a chance.”
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