Amanda Keller remains an optimist.
Always ready to flash a grin and drop a one-liner, she takes a somewhat more introspective tone when we meet in her dressing room. News events are playing on everybody’s mind, and aggressive reality shows are dominating the landscape. Through it all the show must go on.
“One of the things we saw the weekend was the culture of hate, the language of hate, the rhetoric,” she explains.
“I was wondering if the events in Christchurch might make us all take a deep breath and think ‘Who are we?’
“I’m really, really hoping that happy shows will be a breath of fresh air.”
Shows don’t come much more happy than 10’s Dancing with the Stars. The revamped show on 10 has attracted positive reviews including for Keller and co-host Grant Denyer. Aside from some Living Room episodes, DWTS is first time both have commanded a show together.
“That was a decision that was made before they even approached me.”
“My agent rang me and said I’ve had a call from Beverly McGarvey asking ‘Are you interested in co-hosting with Grant?’
“She said ‘You’re both equal partners.’ That was a decision that was made before they even approached me.
“I’m really impressed with Grant. He has a very style of looking casual, but he’s so thorough. His brain’s always working. And he’s very generous if I say something in a script meeting, he’ll make sure that I get to say that in the show.
“He’s a very interesting mix of being ‘showbizzy’ and very droll and casual and dark. It’s a very good combination and in a TV host, I think.”
“I’ve never done a big stadium show.”
The scale of the Warner Bros. show impresses the seasoned Keller, who is particularly daunted by the technical wizardry.
“This set is just so big. It’s extraordinary, there are giant mirrorballs. It’s like Superbowl. And the tricks that they can do with the floor, it is just amazing,” she continues.
“Between one dance and the next, a whole bank of lights will come in and then they disappear or the illusion of rain comes and then disappears.
“And to think that that’s all Live is just amazing. I think a lot craft has gone out of television. A lot of these really clever technicians who haven’t had a chance to do this stuff, with all the reality…”
“At the first the first dress rehearsal I was thrilled with excitement. I felt like I was as part of a circus, part of the Hugh Jackman show.
“I’ve never done a big stadium show. It was exciting.”
Keller’s busy showbiz weeks already includes breakfast radio and fortnightly recordings of The Living Room. Sundays entail a script meeting with Mondays panning out as a full day of rehearsals and Live broadcast.
“I don’t know whether he goes home and cuddles teddy bears”
But it wouldn’t be Dancing with the Stars without a villainous judge. While Craig Revel Horwood has delivered plenty of pithy lines, Keller says replacing a well-known judging panel was no mean feat.
“I think their character definition, very early on, fell into place and they all have things to say. I think even that people who boo Craig the meanie have now come to respect what he says,” she suggests.
“He’s a very nice man but he can be caustic in a second. So that is that is his act.
“He is a very highly qualified dancer and the professional advice he gives them is sound. I don’t know whether he goes home and cuddles teddy bears or anything.”
As the show passes its halfway mark, Olympia Valance became the latest elimination last night. Keller isn’t revealing her tip to win, but with some shock outcomes that may be an astute move.
“I do think towards the end everyone has to have a certain level of proficiency. It’s like the Melbourne Cup …. who accelerates the most at the end?” she asks.
“I think what the judges look for is improvement.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Live 7:30pm Mondays on 10.