Maybe, at long last, Tom Bergeron’s talk-show moment has arrived. The amiable, quick-witted Bergeron always seemed ripe for a hosting role, but somehow past plans to put him in charge of a chat-fest never gelled. His co-hosting role in ABC’s surprise hit Dancing With the Stars, though, may enable Bergeron to waltz into a new job. The guy who took one look at a winded John O’Hurley and told Dancing viewers the actor’s “heart is running faster than a concierge from Russell Crowe” is himself sprinting to capitalize on his prime time success. Industry sources say Bergeron and Amy Yasbeck, former Wings star and widow of John Ritter, are being pitched for a daily, live-to-tape talk show touted as the next Live With Regis and Kelly.
Of course, one problem with the “next Regis and Kelly” pitch is that it might go head to head with the real Regis. But Bergeron, host of America’s Funniest Home Videos on ABC since 2001, is familiar with the pitfalls of syndication: He hosted King World’s canceled Hollywood Squares from 1998 to 2004.
That job helped get Bergeron pigeonholed in Hollywood as a game-show host—even though he had won critical raves in 1996 as co-host (with Laurie Hibberd, who is now married to Regis and Kelly executive producer Michael Gelman) of the quirky but ruinously expensive FX morning show Fox After Breakfast. He was once touted for ABC’s Good Morning America, but that buzz died down. Now the positive vibe from Dancing With the Stars has revived industry interest.
Bergeron and his agent, ICM’s Babette Perry, declined to comment, but one producer we spoke with—who passed on earlier Bergeron talk-show projects—is interested in this one and expects it will find a home by the end of the year.