Sunday, January 21, 2018
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Erin Andrews talks Tampa, sports and 'Dancing with the Stars'

Erin Andrews is entering a new season in her life.

Her name made headlines for the past two weeks as she and her family testified — sometimes emotionally — about nude video taken illegally through her hotel room peep holes that spread across the internet.

Jurors awarded Andrews, who grew up in Tampa, $55 million in damages Monday. It possibly draws the curtain on an eight year saga that has seen her move from a job as a college football sideline reporter to covering the NFL.

Now, Andrews is gearing up for the next season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars, the reality ballroom dance competition that pits athletes, celebrities and reality stars against each other in a quest to hoist the mirror ball trophy.

Andrews, 37, talked to the Times in a phone interview last month, before her trial started. She didn't discuss the legal matters, keeping the conversation geared toward her TV jobs and life.

"They keep the cast list secret until the reveal," she said of DWTS producers. "Even from me. I find out who will be on the show during the reveal like everyone else."

The cast was announced on Good Morning America Tuesday morning. Andrews will join co-host Tom Bergeron for performances from Mischa Barton, Geraldo Rivera, Marla Maples, Jodie Sweetin and others during the March 21 season premiere.

"Our dancers are some of the best athletes out there," she said. "It's very much like a football game, but when you fall or forget your steps it's like running the wrong route. It's a lot more like sports than we think."

Andrews should know. She danced in Season 10 with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy and admitted she ran a few wrong routes.

"I'm really an open book," she said. "I said while we were on air that I blanked out on a samba routine. I took a wrong turn and he pushed me the other way, but it was hard to get back."

Andrews finished third behind winner Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls and the runner up, figure skater Evan Lysacek. Even though professional athletes have only taken home half the wins, Andrews said they always do well.

"I think (athletes) have an advantage because they are used to being coached and they understand the rigors of practice," she said. "They're used to grueling schedules and used to getting in shape. And by the way, they have a innate sense of rhythm."

She joined the show as co-host in 2014, the same year she became lead NFL sideline reporter for Fox Sports.

"On Sundays where there was a 1:20 p.m. kick, I'm still at the field all day. As soon as the game is over, I hop on plane to L.A. to have an early script meeting the next morning at 8 a.m. with Tom Bergeron," Andrews explained. "Then we go into dress rehearsal and then straight into a two-hour live show. It's a pretty chaotic 48 hours."

Adjusting to DWTS took some getting used to.

"During games, I'll tell anybody, I'm a no frills girl. I'll do my own hair and makeup in the porta-potty and I won't use the bathroom for hours until the end of the game. With Dancing With the Stars, I'm in hair and make up for hours and someone is pouring me into Spanx and spraying me with bronzer and gluing on my eyelashes and touching you up every few minutes," she said. "I'm more of a Sunday girl."

But she considers DWTS another platform to show off the skills she honed during her career in sports journalism.

"It's an unpredictable setting and you're dancing on a featured team," she said. "People get injured during their routines. Someone pulled a neck and I remember the producers were asking 'Can you go live from backstage while she's getting ready to go? We've called an ambulance.' And I said, 'Yeah. I do this all the time.' … It's just like when Tony Romo left the field with a broken clavicle in 2011. So I still have to think on my feet and be comfortable."

Sports will always be Andrews' first love. Her father, WFLA-Ch. 8 reporter Steve Andrews, got her into sports as kid — specifically his favorite team, the Green Bay Packers. The Bloomingdale High and University of Florida grad has married her sports fandom with a reverence for her father's investigative journalism career.

"Right before I go live (at football games) I sit there and ask myself a ton of questions like, 'What do I really want to hear?' I ask my dad in Tampa what he thinks. We have a running text chain during the game. My dad is so dead-on in all this because he's so distinguished and credible and I trust him. Sometimes he's got too many questions. I'll have to be like, 'Dad, I can't give you every single detail about what's going on on the Packers' side. It's all, 'Check out Eddie Lacy. He's limping. Something's wrong.' And I have to say, 'Not right now, I'm checking out the Cowboys.' "

When she's not traveling, Andrews can be found in a barre fitness class or vegging out to reality TV.

"I watch Real Housewives and the Kardashians. I like to watch sports. People say 'What do you do to get away from sports?' But I don't ever want to get away from sports. I don't have interests outside of sports. When I wake up I'm watching ESPN's SportsCenter. I only shut off occasionally to watch mindless reality TV as something to laugh at and get away."

Now she's ready for the start of the 22nd season of DWTS and all the surprises that come with live television.

"The cool thing you see evolve is the teamwork of the star and the dancer. You get out there and you don't want to let your dancer down because they make you look so beautiful. So, sometimes people just get frustrated with themselves for screwing up because they are the only person who knows how hard their dancer works."

   
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