Erin Andrews is four weeks into her new gig as co-host of Dancing with the Stars, and while her presence in the ballroom has been a breath of fresh air for viewers in Season 18, the transition period has not exactly been bump-free.
Last week, some tabloid reports surfaced, quoting anonymous sources who accused Andrews of "diva" behavior on the set, and speculated that ABC might already be looking to replace her. (Executive producer Conrad Green has vehemently denied that there's any animosity behind the scenes.)
"I've got to be honest. ... It kind of got me worried and scared," Andrews told TVGuide.com last week, noting that she immediately called producers to do damage control. "I just went back and forth with the producers like, 'Are we good here? Please tell me what I need to work on. Please tell me what I need to do. 'And they're like, 'We couldn't be happier.'"
A former contestant on the show, Andrews also said she's gotten unequivocal support from the pros. "They're kind of the vets and I wanted to do well by them," she admits. "So as long as I have people like that saying, 'Great job,' and the executives ... I guess I'm [all right]. But I'm not going to lie, I buy a lot of those magazines that are saying that stuff. And I'm like, wait, this stuff isn't true? ... My boyfriend and my family have said all along, 'Stop reading it.' They're right."
Of course, Andrews has other things on her mind than keeping up with media gossip. When TVGuide.com spoke with the Fox Sports reporter on Thursday, she was on her way to a photo shoot, brushing up on baseball stats to cover a Dodgers-Giants game on Saturday, and preparing for Monday's switch-up on Dancing.
"I'm not happy unless I'm crazy and doing 18 different things anyway," Andrews said. "I guess that's maybe not so smart, but it's just kind of how I roll and how I'm wired."
Read our full Q&A with Andrews to get her thoughts on being back in the ballroom, as well as which contestants she's been most impressed by:
You've had a few weeks to settle in now. How are you enjoying the new gig?
Andrews: I'm loving it. It's good to be back home ... and it's neat, because it's all the same hair people, same wardrobe people, and those are the people that you spend a lot of time with besides your dance partner. I really missed dancing. Not that I'm doing any of the dancing, but just watching what the partners and the pros are coming up with, and all the creativity and using different parts of the stage and the set. And I really love our cast. I thought last week's show was one of the best shows, really, in 18 seasons. The stories were so powerful. ... It's been great.
What's the biggest difference between doing Dancing with the Stars interviews and interviewing athletes on the field?
Andrews: I don't think there's much. Actually, after the first show, I was kind of down on myself because I felt like maybe I was a little aggressive, looking for answers right away and [asking] how people felt. ... I'm my toughest critic, and I'm really never happy, unfortunately, with what I do. ... In my world, in sports, you can't be playful, because it's almost looked at as flirty with the athletes. So you kind of have to be stern and to the point. Michael Strahan is somebody that I've looked up to and really gone to for guidance about doing both entertainment and sports, because as we have seen, he is doing it quite well and getting ready to take over the world here. But finding a playful balance. I can be serious in some parts, especially when you're talking to somebody like Amy Purdy and everything she's been through, but also finding the playful fit with Dancing as well. I'm trying to find the mix of it. The producers have been very supportive and told me not to change anything, so that's good and encouraging.
Was there any hesitation on your part when they approached you to replace Brooke Burke-Charvet?
Andrews: There was a little bit. I think it was more so, can I fit this into my everyday duties with Fox? Because they're the priority. They're the ones I first started with and I've been with the past two years. So, a lot of kudos and a lot of thanks goes to the president of Fox Sports, Eric Shanks, because he gets it. ... He understands, there's really something cool and very smart about having us on different networks, us reaching different demographics. Because somebody like Strahan is now bringing women to football. And hopefully somebody like me could bring different demographics to football and different demographics to Dancing. So Fox was a concern, and just seeing if I could fit it in with my personal life. ... And both Fox and my family just said, 'Yeah, do it.' And the fit seemed great. I had done the show. ... Doing that show as a dancer was one of the best times in my life, so it really felt like the right fit.
Next week is the switch-up. As a former competitor, how would you have felt about switching partners?
Andrews: Oh, I wouldn't have liked it, but I like that the show's doing it. I think every little twist and turn they can add to the show and spice it up — it's been on for 18 seasons, so you've got to do something to keep it new and fresh. But I wouldn't have liked it. You get in such a comfort zone with your pro dancer, and you know they know your weaknesses and your strengths. Somebody like Amy, who has been obviously going through so much with Derek [Hough], and Derek really seems to understand her. Not that the other pro dancers wouldn't, but it gets you out of your comfort zone. You're already out of your comfort zone doing ballroom dancing in front of millions of people on prime-time television, so it just adds one more element of like, oh God, what am I doing here?
Which celebs have you been most impressed with this season?
Andrews: Well, I think right off the bat most impressed and most surprised would be Amy. I don't think any of us really knew what to expect. And to say that we've all been moved to tears pretty much every week is an understatement. ... You know, she was already a very inspiring person, but [Derek's] just kind of peeling off these layers for her and showing her, and showing all of us, what is possible, and that's so special. And I just get choked up every single time I think about it, because I'm so proud of her and I don't even really know her very well. I'm so thankful somebody like her is showing really all her strengths. You would think they would be weaknesses, and they're not. Danica [McKellar] has been unbelievable. She's really talented. And I think Candace [Cameron Bure] too. A lot has to be said about somebody who hasn't taken a dance class before. Mark is a very talented and special choreographer, and he's really playing to her strengths and I think that's very cool to see as well. [Charlie White's] personality is really starting to come out. I saw it especially last week. He's so sweet. ... And Meryl [Davis], I think she's like a Disney princess. She's just so graceful and so gorgeous, and I'm so glad she was paired with Maksim [Chmerkovskiy] for so many reasons. I've really enjoyed both of them.
It seems like the competition is especially stiff this season.
Andrews: My mom said that the other night. My mom watches the show, she loves the show. ... I think with my year, you could kind of see that Nicole Scherzinger, was going to blow everybody out of the water. But this year, the competition [is fierce], and the stories behind it — and that's exactly what the show wanted and needed. It's been a really fun journey.
Are you happy Maks decided to return to the show this season?
Andrews: The ballroom needs Maks. I couldn't be more overjoyed that he came back. I didn't know he was coming back. The day that it broke that I was coming back to the show, he texted me and I just said, 'Please come back, please come back.' And he said, 'Keep this quiet, but I am.' And I called my parents right away, because they adore him and they're very thankful for how wonderful he was to me. He's very much part of our family. Yeah, I couldn't imagine doing this season without him.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC. How do you think Andrews is doing as co-host?