Tony Dovolani, Dancing With The Stars

Tony Dovolani didn't get the Kate Gosselin hate before their Dancing with the Stars time started — and he still doesn't. "I really just do not understand why people pick on someone they don't know and someone who is doing the best she could do to provide for her kids. It's truly amazing to me that more people pay attention to the negative comments," he tells TVGuide.com. "If they really take the time to hate on somebody else, I wonder what their lives are like." Contrary to reports claiming otherwise (and his infamous rehearsal walkout), the pro says he and Gosselin got along famously on Dancing with the Stars — and still do. Find out what else Dovolani had to say to Gosselin's haters, what the hardest part of teaching the mom of eight was and his picks for the final three.

TVGuide.com: There are a lot of viewers who wanted Kate to get eliminated earlier, like the first week. How does that make you feel?
Tony Dovolani:
Why would they want that? That's just mean. I don't even understand. ... I don't have anything to say to those people because I don't waste my energy on them. Those people are going to hate no matter what. Dancing is something that's so beautiful. Kate was a perfect example of an everyday person who wondered what it would be like to be on Dancing with the Stars and she tried it. She was challenged, but so what? So is everybody else in their own way. Do you think everybody who walks into the studio is a great dancer? No, if they were, then studios wouldn't exist. You're supposed to learn.

Dancing's Tony Dovolani: What's with all the Kate hate?

TVGuide.com: There were a ton of reports and cover stories about you hating her and wishing you were off the show.
Dovolani:
Why would I ever want to be off the show? I love our show. I love being able to teach. I love being able to show that I can take somebody who's never taken a dance step in her life and teach her to dance. I had to teach her how to walk in the first lesson! Kate and I get along wonderfully.

TVGuide.com: Your walkout during rehearsal didn't help things. What happened there?
Dovolani:
That was a five-minute clip that I wish I could have back. That's one thing I regret. Everybody's walked out of rehearsal, but no one had said "I quit." I said "I quit." I quit for the day! [Laughs] I didn't look upset. It was like, "Let me relax for a little bit." Then I came back and said, "Let's do this again." Ten seasons, we've had someone walk out almost every episode, and no one has made a big deal out of it until now. Now they're making a big deal because it's Kate Gosselin? C'mon! It's sad because this is somebody who just went through a publicized divorce. Her ex-husband's in the media; she's in the media. Their kids have to read all kinds of stories about their parents. While she's down, people are still kicking her? I just don't think that is right. If this is what our country's turned into, that saddens me.

TVGuide.com: In your last rehearsal package, you said you have to motivate her every day and it's exhausting. What did you mean by that?
Dovolani:
It's because of everything she has to read about herself every single day. Dancing was supposed to be a positive experience for her, and it seems like everybody put a bull's-eye on her and started shooting. That demoralizes everybody no matter who you are. How am I supposed to motivate her when she looks at me and goes, "Every media outlet hates me." I have to give her props. She's an incredible mom and she's an example for single moms out there. She handles herself to the best of her ability because she's constantly under fire by everybody. ... People hang on every word she says. I experienced that for the first time when [reporters] would ask me questions in a provoking way to get me to say something negative about her. I don't have anything negative to say about her. I had a great time teaching her. Whatever drama you saw on TV, that's exactly how long it lasted. Five minutes, that's it. We laughed until I had her in stitches. She was on the floor laughing.

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TVGuide.com: We never saw any of that, though. Does it bother you your fun moments weren't included?
Dovolani:
Well, that's why I'm a dance teacher; I'm not a producer, but obviously our show is successful for a reason. Those producers are doing an incredible job. They brought drama. Everybody was talking about the show, so they did their job. The truth be told, the hardest part of teaching her was keeping her motivated because of all these things that everyone was saying about her. She was demoralized. Every 15 minutes, somebody would send her a new article that was written about her in a bad way. You have no choice but to read it because you want to know what is being said about you so you can protect yourself when questions come up in interviews. I don't blame her. I would look at her and go, "I'm so sorry you have to read that." When tabloids took my words and twisted it, I told her, "I have no idea what you deal with!" Being followed by paparazzi so you're afraid to play with your kids in your yard because God forbid you make a serious face and people misconstrue that as you being a mean mom? What parent hasn't had a serious face in front of their kid at one point or another?

TVGuide.com: Maks said he thinks Kate resisted you. Do you feel that way?
Dovolani:
No. Every couple has struggles and everybody resists in the early weeks because you're doing something completely new with someone you just met. Maks [Chmerkovskiy] and Erin [Andrews] had some issues, so did Derek [Hough] and Nicole [Scherzinger]. We don't know anything about the other person, so of course there's going to be resistance. You just have to earn trust and learn to trust, and eventually, Kate started doing better. Her tango was good. Even though they picked the foxtrot apart, she did a good job.

TVGuide.com: Have you been keeping in touch?
Dovolani:
Pretty much every other day we're on the phone with each other. I ask how she's doing, how the kids are doing. She asks about all the meetings I've been taking. ... The timing hasn't worked out, but we are going to have a playdate because I want our kids to meet and her kids are just adorable. My daughter and her kids would just have a blast.

Read Maks' Dancing blog

TVGuide.com: What are you going to perform on the finale?
Dovolani:
We don't know yet. The producers are going to have a meeting with me in a couple days to let me know what we're dancing. It'll just be fun to have her around again because she was a lot of fun to be around. I just want to see her smile because when she smiles, she lights up a room.

TVGuide.com: What are you predictions for the rest of the season?
Dovolani:
I can probably predict the final, but as far as winning, I have no idea. I think the final would be Nicole, Erin and Evan [Lysacek]. That would be a very entertaining final three. ... [Maks] is my best buddy, so of course I'm pulling for him. I want one of us to win! [Laughs] Derek's already won! So Anna [Trebunskaya] or Maks.

TVGuide.com: You're doing some acting now?
Dovolani:
Yeah, I'm taking some meetings for a few things. I'm really excited. ... People are starting to realize that I have acting experience. It sets me a little apart because I've actually studied it. I'm kind of glad they're trying to recognize that. We're working out which direction we want to go. As long as I'm performing and providing entertainment, that's all I care about. I'm not afraid to make fun of myself.