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Dancing With the Stars: Sean Spicer Responds to Casting Backlash, Hopes for 'Politics-Free Zone' in Season 28

DWTS Sean Spicer

Despite significant criticism of his casting on Dancing With the Stars, Sean Spicer wants his time in the ballroom to spark “civil and respectful” discourse.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the former White House press secretary — whose presence on Season 28 prompted swift backlash on social media Wednesday — said that he hopes the ABC series will be a “politics-free zone,” regardless of his ties to the Trump administration.

“My hope is that at the end of the season, [DWTS host] Tom [Bergeron] looks back on this and realizes what a great example it was of being able to bring people of really diverse backgrounds together to have fun with each other, engage in a real civil and respectful way, and maybe show millions of Americans how we can get back to that kind of interaction,” Spicer said.

Shortly after Spicer’s casting was announced, Bergeron was among those who expressed concern with his presence on the show, revealing in a lengthy Twitter post that he had hoped Season 28 “would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliation.” Though Bergeron had made that suggestion to a DWTS executive producer, “a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, ‘go in a different direction.'”

Bergeron continued, “It is the prerogative of the producers, in partnership with the network, to make whatever decisions they feel are in the best long term interests of the franchise. We can agree to disagree, as we do now, but ultimately it’s their call. I’ll [leave] it to them to answer any further questions about those decisions.”

In response to the backlash, DWTS EP Andrew Llinares told TVLine, “We’ve got a great and diverse cast. We are excited about the season.”

The Season 28 cast also includes James Van Der Beek, The Bachelorette star Hannah Brown and Queer Eye‘s Karamo Brown, who tweeted on Wednesday that he is “excited to sit down w/ [Spicer] and engage in a respectful conversation. Only way things get better is if we try to educate those who have different POV than us.”