Talking CASTLE with DWTS’ Tom Bergeron

If there’s one thing that keeps my interest during an episode of AMERICA’S FUNNIEST VIDEOS or DANCING WITH THE STARS, it’s not the train wreck performances, or the baseball-to-the -package vids, it’s 100% Tom Bergeron.  He’s a funny guy, who seems so natural and at ease in front of the camera, and he’s not afraid to poke fun at someone, or to say out loud what we’re all thinking.

Tom’s taking his charm to tonight’s all new episode of CASTLE.  He plays a Johnny-Carson-like late night talk show host who tells Castle that he knows he’s going to die, and then Castle spends the episode investigating his murder.  Check out my Q&A with Tom about the role, how it all came to be, and what you might be surprised to know about a certain “diva” on DANCING WITH THE STARS.

How are you, I’m so excited that we are going to see you on CASTLE!
I am excited too. I wish you would see me longer, but, you know, some of the nefarious characters had other plans.

How did this guest starring role come to be?  How did you get involved?It’s a convoluted story really because Nathan and Stana have shown up in the audience of DANCING so we can promote the show because we lead into them. But, I was outside the Starbucks near my house and Jonathan Frakes of STAR TREK and Genie Francis of GENERAL HOSPITAL come walking up, and I hadn’t seen them in a few years, and I said you guys, you’re not going to believe this, not three weeks ago I recommended you to the casting people at DANCING WITH THE STARS because I thought it would be perfect, you’re married, you have different fan bases and all.  He said, I can do you one better.  I have been directing episodes of CASTLE and I suggested we should get Tom on because he leads right into us.  So, we chatted about that, you know we parted company and I quickly got my agent on the phone and said this is too weird.  You have to call Steve McPherson and see if he thinks this is a good idea that the producers at CASTLE would like to do.  Everybody signed on and thus the Late Chat was born.

Tell me a little bit about the character.  How much different is he than other TV hosts that we may have known?  What’s he like?
Well, he’s not really alive long enough to get too much of a sense of him, that sort of, its kind of like an onion being peeled, you get a sense of him as the episode unfolds as they dig deeper into what at first appears to be a heart attack but clearly that is something much more dastardly and then you start to see a number of reasons why people might want him dead.  But, in terms of the approach, he is a character who has been doing this talk show for 30-35 years ala Carson.  Fred Willard plays Bobby’s side kick Hank.  They have been friends since they were kids and so in terms of, for the time I was doing the talk show part, who was I thinking of, probably a little bit more Johnny Carson than Conan or Jay or David.

Would you like to have more of these little guest spots in the future?
I’d love it.  I absolutely, I am just. I’m like a kid in a candy store. I swear to God.  Because I just admire what they do so much that what the cast and crew of these shows, I know the gang over at NCIS I visited the set there a few times to see Polly and everybody, and I marvel at what they do.  I mean it is so different from what I do on live TV and requires a whole different kind of discipline.  Yes I would, if they would be willing to put up with me, I’d be happy to show up.

You mentioned live TV.  I don’t think a lot of people would be willing to admit that they couldn’t do the live TV, like you guys do.  I know I would never be able to do that, I would always screw something up I’m sure.
It’s funny, I mean I genuinely, like I have my bedroom slippers on when I do it in front of 20 million people and when we were shooting the talk show scene, just before I hit the monologue part, because Nathan was standing right next to me, next to a monitor, and he said, so Tom are you nervous.  I said Nathan come on I’m on TV in front of 20 million people on live TV, why would I be nervous when I know I can do a second take and as I said that I thought well that sounds a little cocky.  I then proceeded to screw up.  So I guess I was nervous but I wasn’t admitting it to myself.  But you know I was in somebody else’s playpen.  So I was a little outside of my comfort zone.  But they couldn’t have been more welcoming.

Switching gears, let’s talk about DWTS this season.
Oh sure.

Quite a crazy cast.  One of the most diverse casts you have had in awhile.
Well it certainly, as evidenced by the ratings, has been embraced by the audience you know.

Yes it definitely has.  Is there someone that surprised you, one of the contestants that when you saw their name on the list it was like, oh that is going to be interesting and then they changed your mind?
Oh Buzz.  I mean I was thrilled to be able to meet Buzz Aldrin. I was thrilled at that prospect and also I knew that the show had been pursuing Pamela Anderson for a few seasons so I was really excited that she finally said yes.  I couldn’t be happier with this group.  They are just a great group of people but also very compelling characters in their own right.

Exactly and I Think that is part of why people are tuning in.  They all have kind of built in fan bases, they all have a good story and ..
I have to tell you, in her defense, because I never saw the JON AND KATE PLUS 8 show, so I have no preconceived notion about Kate Gosselin but every interaction I’ve had with her, because I hear about these diva stories, I have not seen that person show up at all.  She is a charming, self deprecating, very sweet women in my experience and when I see the cast all hanging out together, they all seem to have a real nice bond here.

Do you get to interact with the cast a lot or is it really on the taping episodes?
Yeah pretty much I’m there, I will stop by their rehearsal area rarely, I mean just to bop in, I am there on Mondays and Tuesdays all day during the rehearsals and then the dress rehearsal is the R rated version of DWTS, which I do basically just to break them up and the crew and the band, so that is.  Every so often the network will say now we have the Make a Wish Kid coming in today so you have to clean it up. (laughing).

That’s everything I have for you today.  We will be sure to check you out on Castle and on DWTS.
Oh thanks so much!

We hope to see you in little guest spots here and there.
Oh I would love that,  Put in a good word for me Amrie.