It was Tavis Smiley’s turn to bid farewell on “Dancing With the Stars” Tuesday night…and he didn’t go quietly.
The talk show host, who is currently touring the country promoting his new book, attributed the early elimination to lack of practice time.
“With all due respect to my competitors, one, they had 35-40 hours a week to rehearse. We had 10 hours in this last week. Thirty-five or 40 versus 10; that’s a big gap,” Smiley told reporters after he and his partner Sharna Burgess took their final bow.
Over the past week, Burgess and Smiley traveled to five different cities from Tuesday to Saturday because of the promotional tour for his latest book, “Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year.” They were only able to dedicate those 10 hours to perfecting his last cha-cha-cha before Tuesday’s second elimination of the season.
In a post-show interview with People, he took the blame game to the show’s producers for casting him in the first place despite knowing his busy schedule wouldn’t allow him to rehearse properly for the competition.
“Producers shouldn’t sign up people who can’t commit the time when they are told up front that the person is going to be on a book tour,” he told the magazine. “We gave them the entire book-tour schedule in advance!”
Smiley added, “This is not about sour grapes. It’s about saying I think the fans deserve to have stars on this show who have the time to commit to learning the dances so [pro partner Sharna Burgess] and other professionals don’t waste their time trying to do something that’s just humanly impossible.”
“I think part of what fans may have been saying tonight was, ‘Why keep Tavis around if he doesn’t have the time to really dedicate to this?’ ” he continued, pointing out that fans ultimately chose to keep contestants who are fully committed to the show. “Some people thought that Michael [Waltrip] didn’t have his best night last night. And he wasn’t the best. His scores were lower than ours, that’s the fact. But I think the fans can see that Michael is here, and he has time to actually commit to this. He’s not on a book tour.”
“I asked for the spring,” he went on revealing. “With all due respect to the producers, when they came after me, I said to them specifically I’m going to be on a book tour in September. Everybody on this show will tell you it’s harder than it looks. You have to spend time perfecting. I’ve been a talk show host for 20-something years and I’m still getting better at it. But you can’t perfect this in eight or 10 weeks.”