Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LARRY KING LIVE

"Dancing with the Stars" Finalists

Aired May 22, 2010 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the "Dancing with the Stars" finalists. Erin and Matt. Evan and Anna. And Nicole and Derek.

Plus judges Carrie Ann and Bruno.

BRUNO TONIOLI, JUDGE, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Enchanted by the dance.

KING: And the co-host Tom and Brooke. They're all here. With backstage scandals and romances. And the answer to this question -- do they really hate Kate?

KATE GOSSELIN, "DANCING WITH THE STARS" CONTESTANT: I don't get it.

KING: Next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Good evening.

We welcome the three celebrity finalists from Dancing With The Stars. Erin Andrews, ESPN sportscaster and reporter, Evan Lysacek, Olympic gold medalist and World Figure Skating champion, and Nicole Scherzinger. Nicole is the lead singer for the Pussycat Dolls.

She's in 10 of "Dancing with the Stars," kicked off on March 22nd with 11 celebrity contestants including a legendary astronaut, a reality TV mom, a former Playboy playmate. And then there were three.

Let's check out some of the memorable moments leading up to next week's finals. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "DANCING WITH THE STARS")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And don't lie. My dress is way too short.

TONIOLI: Flow the motion like a step (INAUDIBLE).

CARRIE ANN INABA, JUDGE, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Very charming foxtrot.

TONIOLI: Technically the best dance you've ever done.

LEN GOODMAN, JUDGE, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, you've come out and done that.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Okay. We'll start with Erin. The obvious question is why? Why'd you enter this?

ERIN ANDREWS, FINALIST, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": I wanted to be a part of this a couple of years ago. I loved just what it was all about -- a huge dance fan. My sister's a professional dancer so I've always grown up around it and I had a pretty hard nine months --

KING: I know.

ANDREWS: -- in my life. And I needed to get away from my life, my job, and I needed to find my smile. And actually, I watched the show last season where all three contestants were here.

You weren't here. Tom was filling in. And I was still trying to figure out if I wanted to do the show. And Kelly Osborne sat up here and said this gave me new confidence, this gave me a new family. And I called my parents and I said I'm doing the show.

KING: In fact, you interviewed me at Dodger Stadium --

ANDREWS: I did.

KING: -- a few years ago, right?

ANDREWS: You're a great interview.

KING: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You're not bad yourself. I don't want to go into any of the absurd things that happened to you, but did this help overcome that?

ANDREWS: Yes. This -- everybody I think on this cast has just said it. This is a really, really close cast and beyond that, the pro dancers have just been, you know, kind of like our moms and dads but our best friends as well.

And my partner, in particular, Maksim, I'd stole this line from a movie but this show and Maks has brought me back to life. So it's exactly what I needed.

KING: Now, Evan, you didn't need this. You're -- come on. You're a figure skating champion. You're a gold medal winner. What do you got to -- what do you got to wear shoes for?

EVAN LYSACEK, FINALIST, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Well, the Olympics was so intense for me and the preparation and lead up was all centered around skating. And so, for so many years, that's all I knew and when I got the offer to do this show I knew that it would be fun. And I knew that it would be just something different for me, a change of pace.

And I could train and keep the daily structure that I loved so much and gear up for competition every week but without the pressure that I was feeling before the Olympics. And it's been just that and more.

It's been such an incredible learning process for me. But like Erin said, we're a family and that's what I think none of us anticipated the closeness that we would have and the friendships and relationships and bonds that we'll carry with us the rest of our lives.

KING: So, it was equal to what you expected or did exceed it?

LYSACEK: It definitely exceeded it for me. I mean, I wanted to learn how to dance. I started having fun but once we really got to know each other as a cast and I think that's what has made this season so popular and so positive is the relationship that we all have. And we're our best when we're all together so this coming week should be great.

KING: Nicole, why'd you sign on?

NICOLE SCHERZINGER, FINALIST, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Well, music and singing is my life. I'm a huge fan of the show. When I watched it I was like wow, that's really amazing what they're -- they can do out there. I could never do that. That sounds terrifying.

I -- I would never want to be a part of that in any way. So that's exactly why I did it. Because I knew it would be such a huge challenge for me.

KING: Are you -- do you dance a lot?

SCHERZINGER: I have a dance --

KING: You're a singer, though.

SCHERZINGER: I'm a singer first and people get that confused. They say you're -- they say that you're a professionally trained dancer. I'm actually a professionally trained singer.

But it's different. It's different than what I've done in the Pussycat Dolls from what people are used to seeing me. And the technique -- it's like learning how to walk all over again.

So it's just been such an amazing experience to try something new that you're afraid of and to actually, like, surprise yourself all over again. And it's something that makes you work so hard.

I also did the show -- I'm not going to lie -- because of my mom, because it's really her favorite show and she's been asking me. I've been, like, on tour around the world. I'm like mom, I'm in, you know, like, Australia right now. I'm in Korea. And she's like that's really nice, honey. When are you going to do that "Dancing with the Stars" show? I actually was in studio with Sting doing a duet. I'm like singing with a legend, you know, I'm his biggest fan and I was like mom, I'm doing a duet with Sting today in the studio. And she still said the same. That's really nice, honey. When are you going to do that "Dancing with the Stars" show?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Erin, is it the hardest work of your life? No?

ANDREWS: Yes, I mean, it is. Just the time that you put into the studio with everyone, you know, six to seven hours and then -- I mean, these guys are amazing. And to try to even come close to how well they're dancing is very, very difficult. But yes, I mean, it's a lot of -- a lot of sweating, a lot of going back and forth with my partner.

But you know what's helped? Is being around athletes and just seeing kind of like how they act with their coaches. My guy's very, very hard on me but I kind of think, OK, he's kind of like an Irvin Meyer of Florida. He's kind of like a Mack Brown of Texas

I like to see, you know, I -- he makes me kind of feel like an athlete for once. It's cool.

KING: Are you surprised you got this far?

(LAUGHTER)

ANDREWS: After seeing how I did some of the weeks? Yes. But I really wanted to make it into the finals. This is where I wanted to be. I wanted to give myself this opportunity and Maks this opportunity.

KING: We've got lots more to come.

Now let's check in with the "Dancing with the Stars" host, my buddy, Tom Bergeron, who's going to tell us what's coming up.

Tom?

TOM BERGERON, HOST, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Thank you, Larry.

Here in the spray tan on deck circle, we have the painfully shy Maks Chmerkovskiy, the lovely Carrie Ann Inaba and the heavily medicated Bruno Tonioli. All coming up next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP, "DANCING WITH THE STARS")

KING: We're back with the lovely Erin Andrews, the ESPN sportscaster, and her professional dance partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. We'll call him Maks.

And the two judges join us, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. Two judges of "Dancing with the Stars."

All right, Maks, how's she doing?

MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY, ERIN'S PARTNER, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": She's doing great. I love it. I mean, I'm -- I'm in the finals so she must be doing something right.

KING: You were a finalist in season four with Laila Ali, right? And finished second in season five with former Spice Girl, Mel B.

CHMERKOVSKIY: Yes.

KING: How do you compare them to the lovely Erin?

CHMERKOVSKIY: I don't. It's very different and she's got about five feet on both of them. But --

ANDREWS: Laila?

CHMERKOVSKIY: No. I think Laila was tall, too.

ANDREWS: OK.

CHMERKOVSKIY: But no, I -- it's a different season every time and you know, we get to meet a different personality and click or not. And I hope we have. And that's why we're in the final.

KING: Is height a problem?

(LAUGHTER)

CHMERKOVSKIY: Well, when I'm met her first, I didn't understand -- I didn't look down -- didn't see she wore like 15 inch heels. But the first thing I saw was like OK, this is not going to work. But -- but it did and I'm comfortable now, you know, with -- we need time to adjust, too. So it's been a long, amazing season.

KING: All right, Carrie. You're the judge. How are they doing?

INABA: I think they are doing great. What's interesting about Erin is there's growth and it's steady growth. And I think that's part of what our show is about. It's not just a dance competition about who's the best dancer, but who makes the most -- most growth and has the biggest transformation and you've definitely done that.

TONIOLI: The thing is, you know, you know, is her nerves. She drives me crazy. I mean because she's got -- she's dancing are fantastic and then she goes oh oops! I got -- so I made it up.

(CROSSTALK)

TONIOLI: It's the truth. And because I do get really involved in what I see.

KING: I could tell. TONIOLI: And I know how good -- I know how good she can be. And when somebody just does something so amazing and there she just drops it even for a second it spoils the whole magic and she can do it. The girl can do it.

KING: That's of course short stops go behind second, make a great play and then throw wild to first.

TONIOLI: That's it. It's exactly like that.

KING: Let's take a look at their moves and we'll see what they're talking about. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHMERKOVSKIY: In the process, while we're doing this --

ANDREWS: You're driving me crazy. You got to listen.

TONIOLI: Slick, lightning fast and brighter than Len's tie.

ANDREWS: Do you know how hard I'm (INAUDIBLE) your hands?

CHMERKOVSKIY: Do you feel how annoying you are when you're not doing what I'm asking you?

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What's the best thing about her, Maks?

CHMERKOVSKIY: Oh gees. I think the fact that she is driving me crazy. You know?

(LAUGHTER)

CHMERKOVSKIY: It makes me -- it makes me learn a lot about myself and she's changed me a lot as a teacher and as a people person, I think. I've learned how to listen because she kind of made me. I had no choice. Didn't want to, but --

KING: I must ask one thing, Erin.

ANDREWS: Sure.

KING: With all you went through --

ANDREWS: Yes.

KING: -- being photographed against your will by some nut.

ANDREWS: Yes.

KING: Was there a hesitancy to go public like this?

ANDREWS: Yes, I was actually asked before that happened if I wanted to be a part of the show and I did. I'd known Tom. I worked with Spelling Bee with him. So I was like yes, I want to do it. And then after everything happened, the show came back and said would you like to do it? And I actually said no.

We just thought because there were people in the media, people saying oh, you're using this to get famous and you're using this. It was really hard. I went right back to work after everything happened and I just never allowed myself time to heal.

And then I watched the show that night and Kelly was sitting here and just talking to Louie, her partner, about the transformation she made. I just said I don't care what everybody thinks. I need to get happy. I was just in this -- I'm such a crazy, vibrant person and I just needed to get away from my life. And --

KING: Are you OK now?

ANDREWS: Everything's great. He's in jail. I had a wonderful lawyer who you know well.

KING: I sure do.

ANDREWS: And everything is good.

KING: Didn't even mention his name that he's good -- that good a lawyer.

ANDREWS: He is. Marshal Grossman.

KING: Marshal Grossman.

ANDREWS: He's going to love that. I should get money taken off now.

KING: You made -- you made his day.

Bruno, what are their chances?

TONIOLI: I think everybody really has a chance. Because they've all done amazing. This has been -- is the closest we've ever had. Any of these three could win. Is all what they're going to do next week. It's going to be really edge of your seat exciting.

I know exactly what you can do. And I'm going to -- I think I spend some time with you next week. I don't know.

ANDREWS: Oh, you are?

KING: By the way, there's never been a season of "Dancing with the Stars" without some kind of controversy. Earlier this month, "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck took a dig at Erin's costumes. A day later, she went on with a teary apology. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": I think in the -- in light of what happened and as a legal and as inexcusable as it was for that horrific guy to go in and try to peep on her in her hotel room, I -- I mean in some way, if I'm him, I'm like man, I just could have waited 12 weeks and seen this a little -- a little bit less without the prison time.

And thankfully she's five and so cute. She said to me, mommy, why don't you just call Erin and tell her you're sorry. So thankfully, I listened to her. She's a wise little girl and I did. So I'm really sorry and I wanted to offer that publicly to --

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You accept?

ANDREWS: Oh I listened. You know what? You can have an opinion of the show and of the costumes. First of all, being an employee of ABC, ESPN, Disney, they're not going to let anything unacceptable go on that air.

And we have an amazing wardrobe department. We have amazing people that help design the costumes. It wasn't about what she said about the costumes, it's about making light of a convicted felon. That wasn't funny.

KING: Maks, you're single. She's single. Are you two dating?

CHMERKOVSKIY: We're in a divorce process right now.

KING: Oh, it got that bad?

ANDREWS: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

ANDREWS: I got a prenup, though.

(LAUGHTER)

LARRY KING: Tom, what's coming up?

BERGERON: We have the founding members of the law firm Lysacek and Trebunskaya who will be joining you next, Larry, on LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Back with us is Evan Lysacek, the Olympic gold medalist. Joining us, his dance partner, that's Anna Trebunskaya. And remaining, the judges, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli.

This season's first perfect score, by the way, went to Evan and Anna for their Argentine tango. They earned another perfect score this week for the Paso Doble.

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK) KING: I don't want to say this but I used to do a mean Paso Doble. Here's Evan and Anna in action. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOODMAN: It's fun. It's fast. And it's energetic. And your hips are getting better.

INABA: What a perfect blend of artistry and technique.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Well, we know about his skating, Anna. How does he dance?

ANNA TREBUNSKAYA, EVAN'S PARTNER, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": He became a pretty good dancer over the weeks.

KING: Started poor?

TREBUNSKAYA: Started --

(LAUGHTER)

LYSACEK: More or less, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

TONIOLI: He was poor. He was poor.

TREBUNSKAYA: No, he -- you know, I always knew that he was -- I watched him during the Olympics so I knew he was a hard working athlete and he was coordinated. What I did not know that his rotations were always one way, which is to the left.

And when we started actually with our first dance, the waltz, and we had to turn both directions and once he was going to the right even half a turn made him dizzy. And then he was stepping all over his own feet and my feet. And I was like OK.

(CROSSTALK)

TREBUNSKAYA: Square one.

LYSACEK: I really had it together.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Like Indianapolis Speedway, they're always going one way.

TREBUNSKAYA: Yes.

LYSACEK: Exactly.

KING: All right. Did you learn from her?

LYSACEK: Absolutely. She's a phenomenal teacher. She's so patient. We've had the challenge of being on tour every week with "Stars on Ice" so we're in four different cities, four shows a week and training every morning.

And my partner never once said to me I'm tired, I'm hungry, I need a break. She gave 100 percent. And I can appreciate that as an athlete. She's a terrific athlete, a tremendous choreographer and has taught me everything I know on the floor.

KING: Great dancers are athletes.

TREBUNSKAYA: Yes.

LYSACEK: That's true.

KING: All right, Carrie. Rate this group.

INABA: Rate them?

KING: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Are they favorites?

INABA: I have to say that you guys, you do something special. Evan, when I watch you dance, there's something -- because there's the growth that you're always looking for but you have this -- like a star quality that -- and it comes with such ease when you're out there that it's really enjoyable to watch.

I always feel connected to you -- well when you're -- when you're being connected. Because you had to work on that last week, didn't you?

LYSACEK: Yes.

INABA: But when -- you know what's great is you listen and you actually take constructive criticism really well and you apply it. And then to see it, it kind of adds fuel. So -- and you're with a wonderful partner.

Anna, you've done great work.

TREBUNSKAYA: Thank you.

KING: Bruno, Kristi Yamaguchi won --

TONIOLI: Yes.

KING: Right? And she was an Olympic figure skater.

TONIOLI: Of course.

KING: How's he doing?

TONIOLI: He's doing incredibly well. He's got that kind of determination, hard work and he's a competitor. And what he does, he always had this amazing lyricism. And now he's switched on the sex appeal. Remember, sex appeal works. Never drop that.

INABA: Especially for him.

TONIOLI: No, not for me, for everybody.

(CROSSTALK)

TONIOLI: You have to be able to -- dance is a performing art. You have to express all --

KING: And you mentioned -- you mentioned something interesting. Of the three finalists, he's the only competitor.

TONIOLI: Of course.

INABA: Correct.

TONIOLI: And that really is an angle.

KING: An edge?

TONIOLI: I'm telling you. Look at -- most of our --

INABA: Most athletes, yes.

TONIOLI: -- finales have actors in it.

KING: Yes.

TONIOLI: Because of that frame of mind. But keep the sex appeal going.

KING: Does it make it harder --

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Anna, does it make it harder for you the fact that he is such a great athlete?

TREBUNSKAYA: No, I mean it helps me out a lot. What I really love about all the athletes is they know how to work. Their work ethic is impeccable. And as a professional teacher, I don't have to teach him how to work. I just have to actually teach him how to dance.

KING: Are you being fairly judged, Evan? Because you're judged --

LYSACEK: Yes, absolutely. And to go along with what they said, I love constructive criticism. And --

TONIOLI: Well, he's going to say that to (INAUDIBLE), is he?

(LAUGHTER) LYSACEK: That fed me, though, throughout the season. The judges have been great in pinpointing areas for me to work on. And though Anna and I have a new set of challenges every week, learning brand new dances, coming up with a theme and the idea and the character, just having those ideas that we have to constantly remind me, maybe foot work, maybe posture, maybe connection.

Those have made the entire process so much easier. And I want to show these guys. I want to show the judges every week that I've taken their advice to heart. And that's important -- that's been important my whole life and important in this competition.

KING: Do judges disagree, Anna, often?

INABA: Do we disagree? Yes.

TONIOLI: Yes.

TREBUNSKAYA: Yes.

TONIOLI: But is -- the thing is --

INABA: All the time.

TONIOLI: These three people, it's three different point of views. I think each one has a valid point. Sometimes with differ in interpretations but I think overall, we try to give like a guide for the public to follow. You know, we don't say I'm absolutely right. And this the way it should be.

KING: Is the winner --

INABA: Well, all that is objective, though.

TONIOLI: Yes.

KING: Of course. Is the winner always three out of three or does sometimes judges two out of two, do you split?

INABA: : Sometimes it's three out of three and then the audience takes it in a whole another direction.

TONIOLI: Yes.

INABA: That's -- as the fourth judge. Right? The audience judges.

TONIOLI: Yes, that is a thing.

KING: Thank you all. You'll be back.

Tom? Who's here after the break?

BERGERON: Coming up, we have a doll and a Derek or a hottie and a Hough. Either ways, they're coming up next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Nicole Scherzinger returns. Joining us is her dance partner, Derek Hough. He, by the way, and Brooke Burke, who will be here later, were the winners in season seven. Derek and Nicole have been at it or near the top of the leader board every single week this season. They also earned two perfect scores. Here are some highlights.

(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were like a divine enchantress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That was a perfect score of 30.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: OK, Derek, you won season seven with Brooke. How good is Nicole doing?

DEREK HOUGH, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Nicole is doing great, man. She is so fun to dance with, and she is so inspiring. I'll come up with a few moves, a few dance steps. And she kind of inspires me to do some great things. It's been a great season.

KING: How important is he, Nicole, to you?

SCHERZINGER: Oh, he is all right, you know. I just do my thing, Larry. No, I'm joking, I'm joking. He has been an unbelievable teacher. He has actually made this whole experience really fun. We have a lot of fun in the studio, learning everything. We're like kindred goofy spirits here. But he has the same work ethic and drive that I do.

KING: What is the hardest part of this, Derek?

HOUGH: The hardest part for me personally is coming up with all the choreography, with so many different routines.

KING: Are you the league choreographer?

HOUGH: Yeah, yeah. All the professionals do the choreography. Not just the physical strain, but the mental strain of coming up with stuff and trying to be innovative and creative. Because you feel like you're responsible for how well they do, because you're their mentor, their teacher. If they don't do well, you kind of feel responsible. That's the hardest part, I think.

KING: Do they say to you each week -- do they say, Nicole, this week the tango.

SCHERZINGER: Yes.

KING: You're given the dance you have to do? SCHERZINGER: You're given the dance you have to do and the song. And it's crazy, because as a musician, it's really hard not to choose the music. But we're given a dance and a song, and we make it work. Like when we did our 50s Paso, they're like, we're giving you the Paso and you have to choose an era. We it was the '50s. We looked -- it was basically Bo Diddley jamming out, having a jam session, and then we had to just do a Paso to it.

KING: Carrie Ann, is that considered the fairest, by giving each group the dance and the music?

INABA: I think it is fair because then it gives them a really interesting challenge. It's not just about their own artistic expression. It's also about how well do you deal with these challenges? Because the whole competition is about learning all these different dances under these certain conditions. It's not just your dream choice, you know.

KING: Bruno, do good dancers do every dance well?

TONIOLI: Yes. The thing is you have to take each dance and make it a unique experience and reinvent it each time. That's really the key. For me, as a judge, seeing something -- I say, OK, they're going to do that. And then they just hit me with something extraordinary. It's something that you actually have done. You've taken on some of the most difficult choreography I have ever seen since the show started. And you pulled it through. I'm sitting there, I said what are they going to do next.

KING: Does that put more pressure on you, Derek?

HOUGH: Pardon?

KING: Does that put more pressure on you? A perfect score, what are we going to do?

HOUGH: Yes, Absolutely. In fact, that was one of the hardest things about this reason. We did so well at the beginning, I was like, oh, man, how do we keep this up throughout the whole season. And that put a lot of pressure from the start.

But you know what? She is fantastic, because even when I get frustrated or tired or oh, my gosh, I can can't do this -- she has been a fantastic cheerleader, come on, Derek, I believe in you. You can keep doing this. As much as I'm helping her, she is equally helping me too, you know, through the process.

KING: You ever call your mother and say, what did you get me into?

SCHERZINGER: Yes. Every day.

HOUGH: Her family is fantastic. Whenever they come in town, though, they always bring us leis and goodies.

(CROSS TALK) KING: Do you sense the competition? Are you sense that you're against these other two?

SCHERZINGER: I definitely don't sense that.

KING: Don't?

SCHERZINGER: I don't sense it. I think Chad -- even though I found a banana peel the other day after Evan performed on stage, but -- just joking.

KING: Good line.

SCHERZINGER: No, I don't sense it. I think Chad said it best when he said I'm my own competitor, my biggest competitor. I compete against myself the most. Honestly, I'm rooting for Evan and Erin. When I see them, I'm just excited for them. I'm like -- sometimes I try to give them a come on, Evan, I want you to go out there and kill it!

KING: Can you make up for a mistake? Can you up, as a skater can fall sometimes and still win a competition.

TONIOLI: Of course. The thing is the truth of the matter is all of them have very, very special qualities. Anything can happen. Anything can happen on that night. And they really have to take it individually as the night of their life.

KING: You'll be back. Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke, see what is going on when the cameras are off. And they're here with that scoop next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We welcome back one of the best hosts in the business, Tom Bergeron, the master of ceremonies of "Dancing With the Stars," and the host now in its 21st year of "America's Funniest Home Videos," an incredible successful show. And Brooke Burke. She is in her first season as co-host of the show. And as we mentioned, Brooke was the season seven winner of "Dancing With the Stars." How is this season going, Tom?

TOM BERGERON, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": Well, this season has been -- not only because the lovely Brooke has joined me, but also because I think we learned from our season nine, which frankly wasn't our strongest, how to bring the show back to its basics, which was fewer couples, tighter production. And the response from viewers has been great.

I hasten to add that we have beaten "American Idol" in the ratings a few times.

KING: How do you explain that, by the way? Really?

BERGERON: More people watched us than them. Yeah, yeah, that was basically it. KING: You actually look at that?

BERGERON: Oh, yes. Obsessively.

KING: Brooke, did you want to become part of the show? You won it.

BROOKE BURKE, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": I did. It was an amazing experience for me as a host, professionally, to be able to come back to a place where I really have so much compassion for what the dancers are going through. It brings a whole another element to what I do, because I've been in their shoes.

But I think for a woman, as a host, this is the most glamorous gig on television. This is it.

KING: Is there a lot of back fighting backstage, Tom? Is this very competitive?

BERGERON: You don't see it, do you? If there is, they keep it from us. I've never seen any real -- you're more apt to get the tension in the back room, right?

BURKE: I think I experience something different than you experience. But I think people would be surprised at what a family affair it is really. Because when you take celebrities and you strip them down and they're so vulnerable, and they're doing something that they've never done before, there is a lot of support, actually. And I think many people are competing against themselves. And even though everybody wants to get that coveted mirror ball trophy, there is a lot -- there is support. There is a lot of love in the Celebretarium.

BERGERON: Sometimes it's a family affair. In isolated cases, it's just an affair.

KING: The quipster. A lot of this season's drama, by the way, seemed to center on reality TV star Kate Gosselin. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATE GOSSELIN, "DANCING WITH THE STARS": You're not hearing what I'm saying.

TONIOLI: Don't come back and then just do basically hardly anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kate and Tony.

GOSSELIN: I had the opportunity. I'm very, very honored to have been here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Brooke, did she have fun?

BURKE: I hope she had fun. I think this was such a challenge for her, that sometimes the emotions that go into really putting the dance together live consumes you. I think she probably learned a lot about herself. We had fun being with her. You know, there was so much negative press centered around Kate. And I actually think she was lovely. I think she was going through a really difficult time in her life. But I never saw that side of Kate that everybody wrote about, never.

KING: You too, Tom?

BERGERON: Yeah, I was totally charmed by her. I had never seen the "Jon & Kate Plus 8" show, so I didn't have that back story. And the Kate that we encountered, that I encountered, was self- deprecating, had a very easy smile, and was working through real anxiety about getting out there and dancing live. I think, by the end -- and I think her tears proved that -- she was emotionally invested.

KING: You and Ryan Seacrest, you have two similar roles here, hosting very popular shows that are competitive. What is your role?

BERGERON: I think to keep the trains running on time, basically.

KING: You're a time keeper?

BERGERON: Kind of, to keep the show on the rails. And also to -- I feel very protective of the couples. So if I feel like the judges have really come at them a little too strong, I go back at them.

KING: What is your role, Brooke?

BURKE: You know, I spend most of my time back in the Celebequarium with them. So I get them when they have just come out of performing live, either getting bashed or getting praised. I get the very emotional side of them. I really want to support them and kind of hold that together in there. Also, because I've been through the process, I completely understand what they're going through.

So I want people to see that side of them, what really goes on behind the scenes and what they're going through to make the show happen.

BERGERON: I think she has the toughest job, in all honesty, because you're trying to engage them in conversation.

BURKE: Yes.

BERGERON: -- when they're either still bristling about the judges' comments.

BURKE: Sometimes they might not want to talk. I remember after I would come off the dance floor with Derek, your adrenaline is so high, sometimes you couldn't even hear the question, because you're in your own zone. So I'm very, very sensitive to all that. But it's delicate. Sometimes I just want to hug them and maybe not talk to them. Sometimes I want to let them vent. Sometimes I want to let people know what is going on. And I need to get those votes for them because they're all working so hard.

KING: Tom and Lawrence Taylor competed. And he has problems now, the great football player. Did you get friendly with him?

BERGERON: Not friendly. To the extent that I knew LT on the show, it was clear he also thought it was going to be easier. You would talk about some contestants think it's going to be easy. When he was voted off, I said to him off the air -- I said LT, we'll see you at the finale, because everybody always comes back for finale. His response was oh -- and I can't use the expletive he used. But he wanted to be on the golf course more than back.

BURKE: -- doesn't realize how difficult it is.

BERGERON: That's it exactly. When you're in an environment where you're suddenly not the top dog anymore, and you don't know it all --

BURKE: Especially with the athletes, because they're so used to being supreme at what they do, and they come into another situation.

KING: We'll have more with Tom and Brooke, and we'll have tonight's 25th "LARRY KING LIVE" moment. It's got a dancing theme, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Be right back with Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke. We've had a lot of interesting guests and experiences here over the 25 years. Hard to believe. "LARRY KING LIVE" moment, we look back at some of them with a bit of alarm, like this one, my attempt to dance with a star. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I can't believe all that has happened to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And push it out. No, push this out.

(INAUDIBLE)

KING: I like live TV, and I like unpredictability. You react to unpredictably. You react unpredictably. There is nothing wrong with that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're being inappropriate, OK?

KING: OK.

Inappropriate King Live continues.

Did you hear the question. Don't you want to speak out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

KING: Oh, my god. Do we -- do we -- Blabbo (ph), whatever his name was, jumping on my head. Whatever happened to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: King Toads, now those right here are poison glands.

KING: With the two boys who are now much bigger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not going to hurt --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get him away from me.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: The look on Cannon's face, who thinks his brother is about to perish, like a poison toad. Just seeing how cute they are and how important they are in my life --

Where is your right hand?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It ends just below the knee.

KING: It feels like a leg.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're in the dog house, you and me.

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's for you. That's the king hat.

KING: We're back in the world's most famous box. Two guys from Brooklyn in a box.

Is there going to be a whole week of crocs?

This machine.

SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER: Didn't I tell you to turn left?

KING: Those were wonderful moments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I dance, too, with Janet Jackson. Pick your top five moments at CNN.com/LarryKing. We'll count them down beginning May 31st, our silver anniversary week here at CNN. Don't forget, enter our contest. The winner will watch the show in person, and we'll take them to dinner, too.

Tom, when you're on for a lot of years, doesn't it amaze you, where did it start?

BERGERON: Absolutely. I'm so with you on the live element. That's what I love most about "Dancing With the Stars." There's nothing like it. Going out there, knowing there's no second take, knowing that anything could happen, and you've got to be able to respond to it is energizing.

KING: "American Idol" has been criticized some this year for kind of running over on its performance shows, special guests and stuff. Do you agree with that? Do you agree with the criticism?

BURKE: I think it's really challenging on who you can get to come on to your show.

BERGERON: We always get off on time.

BURKE: Yes.

BERGERON: I'm only saying. We've never run over, Ryan.

BURKE: It's not easy. It's not easy.

KING: It's not an easy show to do, is it? "Dancing With the Stars" is not an easy show.

BERGERON: In the interest of our next contract negotiation, Brooke, I think you'd agree with me, it's hell.

BURKE: There's so much more that goes into it than people realize.

BERGERON: It's so tough.

BURKE: There's so much to accomplish, never enough time.

KING: Tom Bergeron, Brooke Burke. We'll come back with Even, Anna, Nicole, Derek, Erin and Maks, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the three finalist couples competing for the coveted Mirror Ball Trophy on next week's "Dancing With the Stars," Erin and Max, Evan and Anna, Nicole and Derek. All right, it's down to this. Erin, you got a shot?

ANDREWS: You know what, these guys came on stage right away and got tens and nines. We were the only ones that got sixes. How does that feel? I'm kidding. This is going to be a new week for him, because I'm actually probably going to be pretty chill. I don't feel like the pressure is on us. I think everyone is expecting us to kind of come in third. We'll see how that strategy works out.

CHMERKOVSKIY: I can't wait for that week.

KING: Are you saying, Maks, that you are the comeback kids?

CHMERKOVSKIY: I don't know. Last to first? You know what, I'd love to see that happen. Come over here.

KING: You're back together again. Are you back together again? CHMERKOVSKIY: We had a talk backstage.

KING: I don't want to deal with it. It's your business. It's your business. You're back together again. All right.

CHMERKOVSKIY: We're working it out for the kids.

KING: You're a competitor. Come on, you're the competitor. You going to win?

LYSACEK: Well, I think, actually, both of these other girls are extremely amazing competitors in this competition, and they've delivered under pressure week after week. And for us, our goal all along was to make it to the finals. We're glad to be here.

KING: The old humble bit.

LYSACEK: The old humble bit? It's true, though.

ANDREWS: Women, not girls.

LYSACEK: Women, girls, whatever.

KING: Inappropriate.

ANDREWS: You're inappropriate, Evan.

(CROSS TALK)

TREBUNSKAYA: Larry, I just want to point out that all of these people, Maks, Erin, Nicole, Derek, Evan and I somehow got here, too, it's the most amazing final you're going to see. And it's going to be so much fun.

KING: What are you dancing Tuesday night?

HOUGH: We're dancing the Rumba, because the judges want to see us dance the Rumba again.

KING: You did it before?

HOUGH: We've done it before, but they want us to redeem ourselves.

SCHERZINGER: It's a new song and new choreography.

HOUGH: And then we're dancing the freestyle, which is like the dance, I guess In the past seasons, it's really come down to that one dance. People might be leading the pack all season, but they've fallen short at that one dance and lost it all.

KING: What are you dancing, Erin and Maks?

ANDREWS: Take it.

CHMERKOVSKIY: We're redoing our Samba because Lin didn't like me taking my shirt off. So I'm going to take my pants off.

ANDREWS: Oh, no.

CHMERKOVSKIY: No, I'm kidding. We're going to do a traditional Samba and then we have to also do the freestyle routine, which is, like Derek said, make it or break it dance. If you make it in the final, and you pull off this one with flying colors, you can take it.

KING: What are you going to do?

LYSACEK: We're doing the Viennese Waltz again, which was our first dance in the competition. We'll get a chance to raise our score.

TREBUNSKAYA: That's right.

LYSACEK: I get Viennese and Vietnamese confused, the Waltzes.

KING: Viennese.

LYSACEK: And then the freestyle, obviously. We're going to just put in the moves that we like. And we spent the whole season learning different techniques and different styles. We're going to kind of collaborate and put together the things that suit our taste the best.

KING: OK. How up are we? Nicole? Are we raring?

SCHERZINGER: Brooke just said, wow, it has happened so fast. So we've only got four or five days left. So we're in the home stretch.

KING: It's Tuesday night, the finals. A winner will be announced on Tuesday night. Help me with this. What do you win, Erin?

ANDREWS: A mirror ball trophy. It's equivalent to the Heisman, Stanley Cup and --

LYSACEK: Olympic gold.

ANDREWS: Why wouldn't it be, right?

LYSACEK: Bragging rights more than anything.

KING: Putting this in the class with Olympic gold?

LYSACEK: I think just -- it's a prestigious award and there's been so many amazing people that have come and compete in this competition, and won the mirror ball. So I think to join that group would be an honor for anyone of us.

KING: I salute you all, Erin, Maks, Evan, Anna, Nicole, and Derek. Good luck to whoever wins.

(CROSS TALK)

KING: Whoever loses -- (CROSS TALK)

KING Good luck to all of our stars. Have a great weekend. "AC 360" starts right now.