EXCLUSIVE: Tom Bergeron is back in the game.
The beloved TV host is teaming up with several stars for “The Hollywood Museum Squares,” where fans of the beloved game show can watch new videos on demand. Each show features a special greeting from legendary “Hollywood Squares” host Peter Marshall and is hosted by Bergeron as well as John Davidson, Marc Summers, Patt Finn and Bruce Vilanch.
Some of the many celebrities participating in this special include Gilbert Gottfried, Loni Anderson, Jerry Mathers, Alison Arngrim and Rich Little – just to name a few. Proceeds will benefit The Hollywood Museum, which has kept workers employed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Last July, fans were stunned when ABC announced that Bergeron and Erin Andrews, hosts of “Dancing with the Stars,” were departing the series. The 66-year-old hosted since its premiere in 2005. However, he’s ready for the next dance of his decades-long career.
Bergeron spoke to Fox News about reuniting with Andrews, 43, whether they’ll work together again for a new show as well as his memories from “Hollywood Squares.”
Fox News: There was an outpouring of support from people who already missed you after your relationship with “Dancing with the Stars” ended. How surprised were you that you made such an impact on so many lives?
Tom Bergeron: It was great. I said to somebody, “It was like being eulogized without the pesky business of dying.” It’s always better if you can actually still be around to enjoy it. *laughs*.
Fox News: You recently reunited with Erin Andrews. What was that like?
Bergeron: It was just a few weeks ago. We’re good buddies, so we had been in touch during the pandemic quite often, either by phone or by text. And that was just the first time we were able to give each other a hug and then have a meal together. But she’s a good friend, and that’s one of the lasting friendships I’ll take from that experience.
Fox News: Is there a chance you two might team up again for a completely different project?
Bergeron: Well, you never say never. There’s nothing on the screen right now for that, but I would certainly be open to considering it in the future. We just get along really well. We have similar senses of humor. I never like to close the door on anything.
Fox News: What’s your secret behind your lasting success?
Bergeron: Good fortune. I mean, I’ve really had quite a lucky run with “Hollywood Squares” and the dancing show and all that. I love being a team player. I love bringing my own personality into a format and seeing how much I can bounce against the restrictions of the format.
I think it helps, whether you’re hosting or producing or whatever your role is, if you treat it like a team sport and we’re all working towards the same goal. I think that helps. I think it helps just create a better work environment. And with any luck, it helps ensure a bit of longevity for the format.
Fox News: How does it feel to be part of “The Hollywood Museum Squares”?
Bergeron: Well, I just thought it was a wonderful idea. And I didn’t even have to leave the house to do it! But it was fantastic that so many wonderful people, like Peter Marshall, are also involved.
Fox News: Who were you most looking forward to seeing?
Bergeron: It was so great to see Bruce Vilanch again. Lindsay Wagner had done my version as well. Rich Little. Gilbert Gottfried wasn’t with me for my particular show, but it was great to see him as well. So it was great fun. It was like a little mini socially distanced reunion for a few of us.
Fox News: You hosted the “Hollywood Squares” from 1998 until 2004. What’s one memory that makes you smile from that experience?
Bergeron: Oddly, the first thing that came to mind had nothing to do with the actual taping of the show. It had to do with the lunch break. And the way we would do it, we would tape three shows in the morning, and then we would break for lunch. And then we would do the Thursday and Friday show in the afternoon.
During the years I did it with Whoopi [Goldberg], the first four years, she made sure we had a great catered lunch from Wolfgang Puck and Spago’s and all this stuff. But we also had video games adjacent to where we had lunch. And there was this one video game called “Hydro Thunder” that I got very good at. And I beat Venus and Serena Williams back to back. And they said, “Do you want to play tennis?” I said, “No, I’m good. This is fine.” *laughs*
Fox News: Well, not too many people can say that they beat Venus and Serena on anything.
Bergeron: That’s right. But they both went down to my “Hydro Thunder” skillset.
Fox News: “The Hollywood Museum Squares” is supporting The Hollywood Museum. Were you familiar with it?
Bergeron: I have to say, I was among those who wasn’t all that familiar, prior to doing this… But for those who love the history of television and motion pictures – I’m looking forward to actually going there in person because I’ve never been there. But it’s just a great collection place for all of this wonderful memorabilia. They’ve also managed to keep everybody on staff during the pandemic. So I hope this little venture of ours will be a wonderful way to help raise money and help defray some of the costs that they’ve endured during COVID.
Fox News: From your time on “Hollywood Squares,” when you served as a host, which guest surprised you the most and why?
Bergeron: I don’t know if it was a surprise, but the guest that I thought was comedy gold every time he was there was Gilbert Gottfried. Just absolutely, you knew you were going to get great stuff out of Gilbert. But in terms of being surprised, I don’t know that anybody really surprised me all that much. But there’s certainly some that tickled me more than others.
Fox News: Gilbert Gottfried would have made it very difficult to keep a straight face during filming.
Bergeron: Oh yeah. For the first four years, Whoopi was one of the executive producers along with Moffitt/Lee, and then Henry Winkler and Michael Levitt took over for the final two years. In the last two years, we did a lot of homages to game show history. And my favorite among those was the week of shows we taped, where Peter Marshall was the center square. And he agreed to switch places at one point so that I got to watch him host in person. And I went to the center square, so that was fun.
Fox News: What stood out to you in watching him host?
Bergeron: We’ve become friends, which is one of the real treats of my life and career. And as I said to him back when he did our version, I said, “You can only be a virgin once.” So the original “Hollywood Squares” is always going to be the gold standard. We did our version, John [Davidson] did his version. And I think we did respectable versions during our own tenures, but the real gold standard is the original, with Peter at the helm.
Fox News: In terms of today’s game shows, what would you like to see more of?
Bergeron: I’m not a big game show watcher, to be honest with you. So I don’t know that I have a particular yearning for anything. I mean, I love doing it, I love hosting it. And there are formats that, I think, like “Hollywood Squares,” if somebody ever knocked on my door and said, “Hey, you want to bring that back?” I’d probably be interested. But I don’t follow game shows that much, oddly, and nor do I have any particular cravings for anything that they’re not doing already.
Fox News: Well, then maybe that’s an idea. Maybe we need to create a game show for those who don’t regularly watch game shows.
Bergeron: *Laughs* Who don’t watch game shows. I was on “Celebrity Jeopardy” once, and I just did horribly, until we got to the entertainment topics. And I remember saying at one point, “Alex, my buzzer’s not working.” And he had this wonderful, dry sense of humor. And he just said, “Yeah, Tom, we hear that a lot.”
Fox News: In your opinion, what is it about the “Hollywood Squares” that has created such a lasting fan base over the years?
Bergeron: I’ll answer that in two ways. Number one, I’m surprised nobody’s brought it back. I mean, they’ve done “Hip Hop Squares” and other sorts of variations, but I’m surprised nobody’s brought back the actual “Hollywood Squares.” But for those who will remember it fondly, I just think number one, it was just really funny at its best. And it’s tic-tac-toe, it’s not exactly going to strain your brain that much. I mean, it’s like celebrity checkers. I mean, it’s really basic. So you can just sit back and have fun with it.
Fox News: What do you hope fans of “Hollywood Squares” will get from this special rendition?
Bergeron: Anybody who has fond memories of any version of the show is bound to be tickled by this. And I think if the one that I taped is any indication of how the others went, everybody was having a ball. It was such a great time and just sort of silly fun, and it raises money for a great cause, to keep The Hollywood Museum going.
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