The TV Column: Bristol Palin to be on 'Dancing With the Stars'

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, September 1, 2010; C08

Bristol Palin agreed to join ABC's dance competition series "Dancing With the Stars" to get out of Alaska and to get in shape, she said during a whirlwind of interviews Monday night and Tuesday morning.

"When you got the phone call . . . what were you thinking?" Robin Roberts of "Good Morning America" gushed at Bristol Tuesday morning, as though she were talking to a convenience store clerk who'd just won a $10 million Publishers Clearinghouse sweepstakes, instead of the daughter of the woman who ran for vice president of the United States in 2008 on the GOP ticket and is the subject of rampant speculation about her interest in a 2012 presidential bid.

Bristol responded coolly that she was "excited" to "be part of something that's positive and fun."

"Did you ask your parents' advice? Or did you tell them, 'Hey, Mom, Dad, I'm going to be on "Dancing with the Stars" '?" Roberts asked.

Bristol revealed she gave Sarah and Todd Palin "a little bit of a heads-up: 'Hey, Mom, Dad, I signed a contract with "Dancing With the Stars" and I'm going down there in a few weeks.' "

"You are 19. You don't have to ask permission. You can do what you want to do," Roberts said, as though sensing that either:

(a) Bristol needed reassuring.

(b) Viewers needed reassuring that Sarah Palin had not arranged or endorsed the deal.

But "GMA" had not snagged the first interview with Bristol after Monday's announcement. Immediately after "Dancing" ringmaster Tom Bergeron announced the entire new lineup, he and a select group of invited reporters from celebrity suck-up shows got to put questions to the new celebrity hoofers, including: pop singer Brandy; "Dirty Dancing's" all-grown-up Baby, Jennifer Grey; "Drop Dead Diva" super-assistant Margaret Cho; The Dumb One from "The Hills," Audrina Patridge; "The Brady Bunch's" made-for-TV mom, Florence Henderson; faded "Baywatch" hunk David Hasselhoff; retired NFL quarterback Kurt Warner; ex-NBA player (and former Mr. Vanessa Williams) Rick Fox; and "That's So Raven" kid brother Kyle Massey. (Crooner Michael Bolton and "Jersey Shore's" Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino could not attend Monday's cast unveiling, though they, too, have agreed to put on spangly outfits and pasodoble for ratings on ABC this fall.)

"What made you decide to do this?" Bergeron asked Palin.

"I wanted to get out of Alaska for a few weeks," Bristol said, adding, "I just wanted to get in shape and have a good time."

Reality TV star and former "Dancing With the Stars" celebrity Kate Gosselin was in the audience, but explained she was attending not in her capacity as "Dancing's" worst dancer ever, or even as America's Most Put-Upon Mom, but as a working journalist.

"I'm actually here with 'Entertainment Tonight' this evening," she said.

Then Gosselin proceded to do what she does best: make it all about her.

"My question: Would anyone like to learn any dance moves from me?"

Only Massey raised his hand.

"Just raise your hand -- don't be shy," Gosselin said, looking right through him.

"Could you do a little of 'Paparazzi' right now for us?" Bergeron said, sensing the uneasiness in the room. He was refering to the Lady Gaga tune Gosselin had stomped and scowled her way through during her time on the show last spring.

"You know, it's a lot of hair and makeup, Tom, and I don't think we have time," Gosselin simpered.

Afterward, Bristol had chatted with a correspondent from tabloid RadarOnline.com, in which she was asked what she thought about her baby-daddy Levi Johnston having said she's going on "Dancing" to seek fame -- like he meant it to sting.

"I haven't heard anything -- I don't pay attention to tabloid stuff," Bristol said dismissively to -- not to put too fine a point on it -- the tabloid Web site correspondent.

This from someone who, with Levi and their adorable son, Tripp, sat for a photo shoot with Us Weekly and gushed, "We're Getting Married!" -- and who, less than three weeks later, tearfully gave an interview to People magazine in which she announced, "It's over," because, she told the magazine, the same day their Us Weekly engagement announcement came out, Levi had told her he may have gotten another girl pregnant.

"I want to get in shape. I want to learn these dance moves, and I want to step out of my comfort zone," Bristol told RadarOnline.com, ticking off her non-fame-seeking reasons for going on the reality-competition series, which is attracting "American Idol"-size crowds.

But Bristol's most revealing interview, since being named "Dancing's" New Big Get, was with an "intern" sent by Ryan Seacrest to talk to her after Monday's announcement.

"Bristol, congratulations on being on the cast. Are you excited?" the intern (whose name, Seabiscuit said, is "Nelson") asked.

Bristol confirmed excitement.

"You revealed a little bit about moving to L.A. while the whole process is going through, right?" Intern Nelson asked. Let us translate for you: He wanted to know if she's moving to Los Angeles to do the show.

Bristol confirmed she is going to do the dance competition, which is held twice a year in Los Angeles, from Los Angeles.

"Okay, L.A. is a very crazy town," Intern Nelson said, now that he was sure of his facts.

"You did do a little bit of acting on 'The Secret Life of a Teenage . . . ' 'of American Teenage . . . ' " Intern Nelson said, struggling to remember the one fact with which he'd come armed for this career-making interview.

" 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager,' " Bristol jumped in helpfully.

"Are we going to see any more acting from you?" Intern Nelson finished, gratefully.

"I doubt it. Acting is just not me at all," said Bristol.

Having seen that performance, we can report she spoke the absolute truth.

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