[09/09/09 - 12:08 AM]
Interview: "So You Think You Can Dance" Host Cat Deeley
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

"We are definitely meeting audience demand and it is great," said Cat Deeley, host of Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," about the short gap between season five, which just ended last month, and season six, which premieres tonight. "It's great that Fox has shown this level in confidence in promoting the show again and doing the next season straight off the bat. I love the fact that Fox has so much confidence in the show and that the audience is so passionate about it," she said.

Meeting audience demand is one thing but does the Brit host have any qualms about a possible over-saturation of the show? "I am approaching it with a little trepidation. You just don't know if it's all a bit too much too soon but I have to say after going out on the road and meeting the new kids that we have coming through, the new contestants, I have to say that the standard of dancing is higher than ever."

While audiences turned out in droves this summer for season five of the competition series, Deeley offered some thoughts as to why she thinks the show is hotter than ever. "I think there's definitely a case of everybody knows the format now and everybody knows how the show works and they feel very comfortable with the format and they know exactly what's going to happen every week. And then you just throw in the new characters with the different personalities and different strengths and weaknesses, and I think that's what people find intriguing. But I think they also like that sense of familiarity, so I think that has just kind of kicked in now."

Ever since Paula Abdul announced she would not be returning to "American Idol," the rumors and tweets have flown with news that Abdul could end up on "So You Think You Can Dance." What does Deeley know? "I know that both Paula and Nigel [Lythgoe, who co-created the show] are very good friends and I know that prior to even Paula leaving 'Idol' I know that they talked about it a little bit, because obviously she's a world renowned choreographer and dancer. This is a talent that's not really exposed on 'American Idol' and I think would actually fit very well on 'So You Think You Can Dance.' I don't know quite what capacity she's going to be involved in but I have to say I would love to see her on the panel... she's always been a great lady whenever I've met her and she really cares about the kids and her background is absolutely flawless, so I think she would be an incredible asset to the show."

While the series has scoured many cities looking for its roster of contestants for the new season, for Deeley it all comes down to what she sees in one U.S. city. "To be honest, all the cities that we went to were brilliant. There isn't one particular person that stands out for doing bad, actually, because what happens is as soon as we've done all the cities we then bring the kids back to Vegas and we just had a Vegas week so to me they're all the same. Do you know what I mean? I can't remember back to the auditions because those were the step before, so we've already done Vegas. But what I can say is we've had some amazing, amazing people come to Vegas, and I think they're going to be very, very hard pushed to find their top ten guys and top ten girls this year."

While dancing prowess is what gets the contestants on the show in the first place, Deeley shared that there's one other attribute that is hugely important in getting far on the show. "I think a lot of it is going to be down to personality, actually. We're looking for people with that star quality, with stories, with a sense of humor, somebody with a bit of sparkle, that certain kind of je ne sais quoi that you can't find in just anyone -- that's what we're looking for."

Even with the intensity of the competition that occurs each season, it's what the show can offer to those competing week after week that truly makes Deeley happiest about her job. "I really love the show. I think pretty much the show proves that the American dream is alive and kicking and as long as you have talent and as long as you're prepared to work hard and as long as you're prepared to give it 110% commitment... we certainly take the dancers that come from obscurity and put them on a world stage where people like Mariah Carey ring you up and say, 'Yes, I'd like to take them on tour,' or 'I'd like to put this person in a movie,' or 'This person is going to [appear in] Fame,' or whatever. And that's what I like about the show; it proves that you can come from any background, any race, religion, color, creed. It doesn't matter. As long as you have talent and you're prepared to work had you can be anything you want to be, and that's what I like about the show."

Asked if there was a similar attribute she had seen amongst all the contestants during every season of the show, Deeley explained, "I think the one absolutely consistent thing is the sense of camaraderie between them all, and it doesn't matter what year you're talking about or what particular area of the competition, be it the auditions or when it gets down to the final three or whatever. There is a sense of camaraderie that happens between dancers that's almost unexplainable. Before I started the show I thought it would be hugely competitive and I thought there would be lots of arguments and fights and everything else. There really isn't, and I think it's because dancers are normally the team players. They're normally the back-up guys. Do you know what I mean? They're very rarely the person that's in the spotlight so very much they act as a team. That, to me, is what runs through the show every single season."

There are numerous reality TV hosts on television these days but Deeley does not feel the need to make comparisons. "I think the closest person that you could compare me to is Ryan Seacrest and he's a guy so there's not really that much comparison there. I think the only comparison that can really be made is we both do reality shows and both do live shows and they're incredibly popular and they get huge ratings, and I think that's why people compare. But I don't think I really get compared to anybody else. I certainly don't try and emulate anybody else because I think then you're on a slippery sled to nowhere. I just kind of do my own thing, and I feel really lucky that Fox has just turned around and let me do it. They never comment on my clothes or my hair or my make up or my accent or anything like that. They just say, 'Yeah. Fine. Get on and do it. Do it exactly like you're doing it.' So while they're not complaining I'm not going to change anything."

One thing is certain, if anyone is angry with Deeley not nabbing an Emmy nomination for her hosting duties, it is not the Brit herself. "To be honest, I hadn't even thought about it. I really hadn't. I don't think I've been around long enough in America to really justify it and to be part of people's consciousness. Do you know what I mean? To be perfectly honest, I think it's going to take a couple more years before I even get a nod." Asked if she was pulling for peers Ryan Seacrest from "American Idol" or Jeff Probst from "Survivor" and Deeley admitted, "I do love Seacrest [and] I think he does a great job and I don't know a man who works harder. He's indestructible, that man. He's literally like a machine. He gets up first thing in the morning, does the gym, does the radio show, does E! and yet he does it so impeccably, beautifully well. I think he's a bit of a genius."

"So You Think You Can Dance" kicks off season six tonight at 8:00/7:00c on Fox.

  [september 2009]  


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