Mel's Diner: Tom Bergeron: Whispers With America's Most Underrated TV Host

Who: Tom Bergeron, Host, ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and America’s Funniest Home Videos

Where: The Whisper Lounge, The Grove, Los Angeles

When: late lunchtime, April 24, 2010

The Dish: The irony of meeting the low-key Tom Bergeron at The Whisper Lounge at The Grove in L.A.’s Fairfax District, at the same moment throngs of people dressed in green lined up for a Ryan Seacrest-hosted Shrek screening at the movie theater at the other end of the outdoor mall is even more delicious than the perfect chowder special I had for lunch.

See, one of the reasons I wanted to talk to Bergeron was the fact that while DWTS is one of the biggest shows on television — it beat Idol in total viewers for the week three times this season — Bergeron gets nowhere near the kind of media attention Seacrest or any of the latenight hosts get.

Leading up to the interview, I almost couldn’t believe it when I heard from the DWTS publicist that Bergeron wanted to meet at Whisper’s following his Saturday meeting at nearby CBS Television City. I had just seen a tweet by @ryanseacrest that the American Idol host has a small role in the next Shrek and that the first 250 people who showed up in green by 4 p.m. Saturday would get into a special screening.

When I tell Bergeron about the Seacrest-Shrek screening coming up in a couple hours across the way he says, “That’s funny.” When I ask if he wants to head over there he says simply, “No.” Well, “no” with a good-natured laugh — and an anecdote about the time Seacrest told Bergeron what his weekly schedule was like. Bergeron says he got “claustrophobic” at day two.

In response to questions about his relatively low profile, Bergeron offers numerous words of wisdom, many of which I include in my Q&A with Bergeron that appears in the May 3 edition of B&C and you can read here:Quietly Dancing to the Top.

He also says Johnny Carson was the role model for a lot of people in his generation of broadcasters. Says Bergeron: “Carson kinda did the work and went home.”

This is not to say Bergeron does not feel the fan love. Everyone at Whispers knows him. Some shake his hand when they bring things to the table. Soon after he started coming to the restaurant following DWTS tapings, others started coming with him or saw him sitting on the patio and joined; now it’s essentially the official after-party on Mondays and Tuesdays with the restaurant offering a discount to folks coming over from the show.

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