MSNBC’s ‘Dancing’ Fool

Aug 21, 2006  •  Post A Comment

The Insider grilled MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson last week about what possessed him to compete in ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” At the time, the once famously bow-tied host of “Tucker” had survived about 20 hours of practice with his professional dance partner, Lena Grinenko, and a photo shoot in which he was dressed at the far end of the scale from his usual sartorial style. There’s no telling what he’ll endure once the show debuts Sept. 12 and he’s working double time, doing his 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. (ET) weekdays show from Los Angeles.

The Insider: What is this man thinking?

Tucker Carlson: I’m a reckless man

T.I.: No, you’re shameless.

T.C.: I couldn’t resist. It was so weird. I just thought: “Dancing With the Stars”? I literally could not resist.

T.I.: Okay, but you’re in the same group as Jerry Springer. Preceding you last year was Giselle Fernandez. Does the company you’re keeping bother you at all?

T.C.: Noooo. I work in a medium that has a lot of foolish people in it. I share the bandwidth with Nancy Grace. I don’t think that demeans me. Or maybe it does. I don’t care. I’m not insecure about that.

T.I.: I’m thinking you had dance lessons as a kid.

T.C.: No, apart from some rehearsal dinner episodes I have not had any dance experience.

T.I.: Did you watch “Dancing With the Stars”?

T.C.: They sent me all the DVDs. I thought the show was intelligently produced. They know what they’re doing. I thought, “Wow, this is pretty smart.” There were a couple of reality shows I’ve seen before that I thought were well done.

T.I.: Examples?

T.C.: I’ve seen one episode of “Survivor” that I thought was pretty smart. And I have to say there was one called “My Big Fat Dumb Fianc%E9;.” I thought that was pretty clever the way they put that together.

T.I.: You know the guy who played the big fat dumb fianc%E9; is the bartender on “Gray’s Anatomy.”

T.C.: No way! Did he lose the weight?

T.I.: He lost some weight, but he’s still a chunky monkey.

T.C.: That’s so cool.

T.I.: So you’re not going to concede any moments when you thought, “Maaaaybe I shouldn’t do this?”

T.C.: It’s always good to do stuff you’ve never done. “Dancing With the Stars” is an adventure. I don’t really think everything through, in terms of my career or anything like that. This is basically like sky-diving. I’ll do that.

T.I.: Have you sky-dived?

T.C.: No, but I would.

T.I.: I’m playing parent. If your friends said they were going to jump off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff?

T.C.: Yeah, I probably would. If I thought there was a chance I’d survive and it would be interesting, I would probably do it. I think you should collect as many experiences as you can.

T.I.: At any point, did you say to yourself, “I forfeit all my rights to be taken seriously”?

T.C.: Oh, no. No-o-o. I don’t think I have anything to prove. You know, I missed the first two weeks of rehearsal because I was in Lebanon.

T.I.: Which of the dances or costumes did you think looked harder to carry off?

T.C.: When I went to L.A. for the photo shoot, I had an undershirt on, I had a black mesh undershirt on for the first time in my life.

T.I.: How tight were the pants? And what color?

T.C.: They were skin-tight, black, 100 percent Dacron-polyester, pleated. A bright brown silk shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest.

T.I.: How high were the heels on your dancing shoes?

T.C.: Really high. Like multiple inches.

T.I.: I saw what you claim is your pre-show [dance] warm-up, and you apparently start from deep in the hole.

T.C.: Oh, yeah. I don’t mind. I am not afraid. You can basically divide people into those who are live and cat-like and those who are, like me, dog-like.

T.I.: Did you take notes on how to manage expectations?

T.C.: I think just by virtue of who I am, expectations will be pretty low. The key, clearly is just to just let go.

T.I.: So you wouldn’t be this year’s Grandmaster P.

T.C.: No. Any self-consciousness is death.