Tom Bergeron ABC photo
Tom Bergeron’s working his acting chops on the set of ‘Castle’ this week in an episode that, as he puts it, ‘takes a page out of the whole Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno imbroglio’ — with Tom playing the host of an 11:30 comedy and talk show ‘who believes that the guy with the 12:30 show is gunning for him.’
The back story on how the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and ‘America’s Funniest Videos’ host wound up on ‘Castle’ is as much fun as the episode sounds like it will be. Tom reminds that ‘DWTS’ is the lead-in show for ‘Castle,’ and that stars Nathan Filion and Stana Katic have been in the audience of the live dance competition to promote their series. Tom’s become friendly with them. ‘I told Nathan I was a fan of ‘Firefly’ and introduced him to my wife.,’ he tells us.
‘Independent of that, I ran into Jonathan Frakes and Genie Francis at the Starbucks near my house just about two weeks ago, after not having seen them for a couple of years. I told them I’d recommended them to our ‘Dancing With the Stars’ casting people, because with Jonathan’s sci-fi background and Genie’s in soaps, they bring in two different fan bases.
‘Then Jonathan said, ‘I can do you one better. I’ve been directing ‘Castle,’ and I’ve recommended you to the producers for an acting role.”
One call led to another — ABC head honcho Steve McPherson was quick to get on board — and Bergeron wound up center stage in the episode, airing April 12, called ‘The Late Shaft,’ with Fred Willard as his sidekick, and Bill Bellamy as his rival. Not only that, but all this camaraderie and mutual admiration has led to Bergeron serving as host of ‘An Evening With Castle’ with the producers and cast tonight (3/16) at the Paley Center for Media in L.A.. He’ll finish shooting his scenes as late night comic Bobby Mann on Thursday (3/18), then go right into preps for the new ‘DWTS’ season launch Monday (3/22).
MEANWHILE: Bergeron is excited not only by this season’s lineup of dance competitors — including Pamela Anderson, Niecy Nash, 80-year-old former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, pilot Jake Pavelka of ‘The Bachelor,’ Olympic Gold Medal-winning figure skater Evan Lysacek, Erin Andrews of ESPN, Kate Gosselin and Pussycat Dolls leader Nicole Scherzinger. He’s also looking forward to getting in step with his new cohost.
Tom was in on the casting of Brooke Burke to replace departing Samantha Harris. ‘Brooke, based on everything — her experience doing live TV, not only as a host, but her unique experience on the show as someone who has won — was a slam dunk. It will undoubtedly feel different since Samantha and I did eight of the past nine seasons together, but I have no doubt it will be good.’
CAN YOU SAY ‘WORKAHOLIC’?: Five episodes into shooting the third season of ‘In Plain Sight,’ star Mary McCormack says, ‘I could use some sleep. I’m not going to lie.’ The ‘In Plain Sight’ team keeps up an even more hectic pace than stars of broadcast network hour dramas, since the hit USA Network cable series is shot on a more compressed schedule. Add to that she has her five-year-old and two-year-old daughters with her in Albuquerque, where the show headquarters — while her husband, producer-director Michael Morris, toils away in L.A. on his show, ‘Brothers and Sisters’ — and it’s no wonder she’s sleep deprived.
‘I don’t know how we’re doing it,’ she says. ‘We haven’t had a vacation together, ever. Not one. One of us always working. And we’ve been together almost 10 years. Last year for my birthday, we planned a whole thing on the Mexican Riviera. We had our plane tickets. Then the swine flu hit and we couldn’t go. Who knows? Maybe when our girls go to college we’ll sit on a beach and do crosswords.’
Except for the swine flu, McCormack isn’t complaining, however. She’s actually all revved up about the new season, debuting March 31 — with guest stars including Donnie Wahlberg, Tess Harper, Allison Janney, Rita Moreno and Steven Weber. ‘It’s hard to walk that tightrope of doing a half-funny, half-dramatic hybrid. Sometimes we’ve gone too dark. I think it took us a while to figure out. But now we’ve got it. We’re doing it successfully. Our show has really grown up and gotten better and better,’ she says. They also have a new director of photography, ‘and he’s making it look like a feature, He’s lighting it different. The tones and the color are different, more real. It’s the edgiest show on USA. Now the look matches the content.’
ON ANOTHER FRONT: ‘Psych’ costar Corbin Bernsen is busy, busy, busy. He’s wedged a couple of promotional events in-between preps for his ’25 Hill’ labor of love — a movie he wrote and is producing. It’s based on the true story of a friendship between a boy who lost his military man father in Afghanistan, and an old veteran who lost his firefighter son in 9/11, and how the two team up to compete in a soap box derby. He’s wrapping up casting with shooting to get underway before month’s end.
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster