It’s been quite a season for flamboyant “Dancing with the Stars” judge Bruno Tonioli. He’s raised the wrong paddle, been cussed out by his co-star Len Goodman, and just learned he will have one less night a week to gyrate on TV next fall. But he’s still bullish on the show that made him famous.
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Instead of downsizing “DWTS,” irrepressible Bruno thinks producers should put together a special featuring the worst celebrity dancers ever on the show!
"The best of the worst!" he laughed. "That could be a special. I'm for it. And then I'm going to get my 1s and 2s [paddles] and plenty of booze! We can dust off the '1' paddle that was never [used] and the winner is going to be the one that scores the lowest and gets the most insults from the judges. It would work!"
But instead, ABC announced that “DWTS” will switch to a once-a-week schedule starting in September. Still, the news hasn’t dimmed the enthusiasm that has long endeared Bruno to viewers.
"It's show business, things change all the time," the judge shrugged to xfinityTV. "It's called 'adapt to survive.' This show is doing very, very well. I was surprised, because I think, actually, this season was one of the best, so exciting - the cast, the dancers, you couldn't have done a better show. But I don't know. I'm only a performer. I do it for the public and that's what I like doing. I'm not a businessman. I'm not part of the decision-making, and my duty, which I take very, very seriously is to deliver the best show I can possibly do, and I really put everything I've got into it and I will continue to do so as long as they want me to.
"I always do exactly what I feel. I can't be pressured into anything. I call it as I see it," Bruno added.
But there have been some wild moments for Bruno on Season 16. For example, in a rare mistake, he held up the wrong paddle this week while judging Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough’s flamenco dance. Bruno said he was giving them a “9,” but held up a “10” paddle, throwing the live show into confusion.
"I got the wrong paddle," he laughed sheepishly to xfinityTV at Tuesday's "DWTS" 300th episode party. "The thing is, they're so close together under the desk and I took the 10 instead of the 9!"
Bruno was also attacked by his longtime fellow judge Len Goodman after they disagreed about Kellie and Derek’s Week 8 Paso Doble. Bruno stood up and yelled to the audience about Len being wrong to criticize the dance. That infuriated Len, who completely lost it, shouting at Bruno, “You can’t talk unless you stand up ’cause your vocal cords are stuck up your ass!”
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However, Bruno insisted to xfinityTV this week that there was no lasting harm. "We're very good friends. What happens on the show stays on the show. He knows me; I know him. I know I'm going to go off the handle one day. We tell each other off, then it's done. You can't carry it with you."
In fact, Bruno said he, Len, and Carrie Ann Inaba have a special chemistry that has lasted 16 seasons — unlike on other judge-revolving reality shows — “DWTS” has never replaced any judge on the original panel.
"I think you can not create chemistry," he said. "It sounds good on paper at times, X, Y and Z doing this and that, but it is not guaranteed and a lot of times, a show loses a lot because it can not recreate some kind of original chemistry that was there initially. It's something either you've got or you haven't. Especially when you work [on] live [TV] and you're unscripted to generate that quick-fire is actually not easy to do."
Which “DWTS” Star Has Been Stealing from the Set???
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Meanwhile, Bruno thinks “DWTS” has its perhaps strongest Final 4 ever in Jacoby Jones, Kellie Pickler, Aly Raisman, and Zendaya Coleman. According to Bruno, Olympic gymnast Aly has had the most interesting journey on the show this season. “She has become a performer. It’s wonderful to see a young girl who has discovered a new talent within herself and is growing so much.”
And he said of fan favorite Andy Dick, who exited the show earlier this season, “Andy brought incredible entertainment. I could watch him every week. Obviously, he wasn’t the best dancer, but he turned it on for the public and, of course, you respond to that.”
When asked if there should be a way for the more entertaining personalities to stay on the show longer, Bruno said no. "Ultimately, it has to be the best dancers to get to [the finale] because then you do a comedy show. There is no way you could have Andy in the final next to Zendaya."
Find Out Who Will Be Crowned the Next “Dancing with the Stars” Champion on the Season 16 Finale, Airing Monday and Tuesday nights on ABC!