Dancing With the Stars Season 29 may have found a new host in Tyra Banks, but the cast lineup is still a mystery. Following this week's major shakeup, which saw long-time host Tom Bergeron booted in favor of Banks as the series "embarks on a new creative direction," the former America's Next Top Model host dished on those swirling rumors that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and the lead doctor on the White House’s coronavirus response team, could be sashaying his way onto the dance floor.
Speaking with Entertainment Tonight just after news of her position on the show was confirmed, Banks said that she "cannot confirm or deny" whether Fauci was among the celebrities approached for the chance to vie for the mirrorball trophy. Although she said that she doesn't "know if he would do this right now," she did express hope that he could "come on and do a little cha-cha-cha to celebrate" once "we have our cure, once we have our vaccine."
Rumors that Fauci could be among this season's competitors were sparked in late June after the Daily Mail reported that Dancing With the Stars producers approached Fauci with the offer. The decision to seek Fauci out, the outlet reported, was due to the fact that he has become a beloved public figure thanks to his frequent appearances at White House press briefings regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the many people, including the producers, who are hoping to see him lacing up his dance shoes, Fuci reportedly turned down the offer.
According to a statement from a spokesperson for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci did "not received a formal invitation from" the series. If he did, Fauci would be "flattered," but would ultimately "respectfully decline."
A separate statement from a show source said expressed hope that Fauci would reconsider a spot on the series. Again referring to Fauci's newfound public status, the source called Fauci "a lightning rod" who is both "looked to as an inspiration" and "could be good for ratings." The source added that due to those factors, "it was a natural step for show executives to reach out to him." The source said that producers "are aware that he has work responsibilities, but given that the show is likely to be recorded remotely it allows him the opportunity to train and dance in Washington." The statement added that producers "will be sad to hear he's not interested, but they still hold out hope he will change his mind."