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Sean Spicer responds to 'Dancing With the Stars' backlash

Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Sean Spicer attempted a somewhat diplomatic approach when addressing the backlash surrounding his recent casting on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," saying that he hoped the show would give people "another opportunity to see a side of me that is different."

Donald Trump's former White House press secretary was the source of both internal criticism at ABC News and external eyebrow-raising across America on Wednesday when the dozen new "DWTS" contestants were announced on ABC's "Good Morning America."

"I think this is an entertainment show. I look forward to having some fun. And if people are looking for news, I suggest they tune into a news program," Spicer told CNN Business on Wednesday. The outlet reported that enlisting Spicer, whose checkered track record included inflating Trump's 2017 inauguration turnout and claiming that Adolf Hitler didn't use chemical weapons, felt like "a slap in the face" to some ABC News journalists.

"Dancing" host Tom Bergeron was among those who voiced their disapproval of Spicer's casting, saying Wednesday that he had hoped the show would avoid "divisive bookings from any party affiliations." But it didn't.

"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," the Emmy winner said in a statement released on Twitter. "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."

ABC, for its part, stood by its decision.

"We've got a great and diverse cast. We are excited about the season," said "Dancing With the Stars" executive producer Andrew Llinares in a statement to The Times.

Given his comments to CNN, Spicer, who had been rumored to join the cast since his 2017 White House departure, also seemed fairly certain that he would win over Bergeron and hoped for unity rather than division.

"I firmly believe when the season is over, he's probably going to realize bringing a diverse group of people together, who can interact in a fun, civil and respectful way, is actually a way we can move the country forward in a positive way," Spicer said. "And it will make this show an example of how Americans can disagree about politics and tune into good entertainment shows and keep their politics at bay."

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The new season of the show also features NBA champ Lamar Odom, actor James Van Der Beek, supermodel Christie Brinkley, the Supremes' Mary Wilson and "Queer Eye" star Karamo Brown. Brown was among those who came to Spicer's defense after the casting brouhaha, though the culture expert was dragged for doing it.

"I have no say who is on the cast and didn't find out till this morning that he is on!" Brown wrote in a tweet replying to a disappointed fan. "But I'll tell you this ... I'm excited to sit down w/ him and engage in a respectful conversations. Only way things get better is if we try to educate those who have different POV than us."

In a separate interview with "Access," Brown called Spicer a "really sweet guy" and said he was excited to meet him.

"People would look at us and think that we're polar opposites," Brown told the outlet. "But I'm a big believer that if you can talk to someone and meet in the middle, you can learn about each other and help each other both grow."

Season 28 of "Dancing With the Stars" debuts on ABC on Sept. 16.

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