In all of commercial TV, which shows have had the longest prime-time runs? The list has some high-profile shows -- "60 Minutes" (47 seasons), "Monday Night Football" (44), "20/20" (37) and Walt Disney (34). But right behind those -- wedged between "The Simpsons" (26) and Ed Sullivan (24) is the quiet success of "America's Funniest Home Videos," which just started its 25th season. Hosting is Tom Bergeron, who proved two decades ago that he's a quietly clever guy. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
This seemed like endgame duty – closing the shop, pitching
the final inning.
When Tom Bergeron took over “America’s Funniest Home Video,”
it had already been around for a dozen years. Its early whoosh (with Bob Saget
hosting) was gone. “It was a series of specials, with Daisy Fuentes or John
Fugelsang hosting,” Bergeron recalled. “ABC would just order a few episodes at
Clearly, it was shutting down … except that never happened.
“AFHV” has just started its 25th season and Bergeron’s final one.
“It just felt like the right time,” he said. “I really wanted to go out in the
Afterward, he won’t have to spend his time whittling and
grumping. Bergeron also hosts “Dancing with the Stars,” guests on other shows
and jets cross-country. “My heart is always on the East Coast,” he said.
But his work is in California, where “AFHV” seems to last forever.
“There’s the eternal joy of slapstick,” he said. “It’s what (Charlie) Chaplin
and (Buster) Keaton did, long ago.”
In this case, it involves the sight gags of our daily lives.
At first, Bergeron recalled, things were recorded by “camcorders the size of a
small refrigerator.” Picture quality was low and mailing the videotapes was
difficult. Now “it looks a lot better; the show has changed a lot.”
The hosting style has also changed: Saget liked to add
comments during a video; Bergeron prefers to introduce and step aside. “It’s
like how Johnny Carson would just kind of dial it back.”
That reflects opposite roots. Saget, as a stand-up comic,
looks for quick laughs. Bergeron started in radio, where there are hours to
He started at 17, at a station in his home town of
Haverhill, Mass. Then came radio and TV work in New Hampshire and Boston and
beyond. Along the way, he studied mime (there’s that sight-gag thing) and improvisational
acting and more.
Then came the national leap in 1994: “Breakfast Time” (on
FX) and “Fox After Breakfast” (on Fox) were amiable daily shows, with clever
people winging it. “That was my favorite job ever,” he said.
It folded after two years, but Bergeron kept getting more
jobs, daily (“Hollywood Squares”) and annually (“A Capitol Fourth,” Muscular
Dystrophy Association telethon). He showed the rare ability to be clever, yet
quiet. And next year he’ll take it slightly easier.
Bergeron has said he once had anger issues, none of which
seem apparent. He’s the easy-going guy at 59, married to a former producer for
32 years and (next year) quitting a show that just won’t quit.
“America’s Funniest Home Videos,” 7 p.m. Sundays,
Started its 25th season Oct. 12. The second
episode, Oct. 19, has a Halloween theme.
Will be pre-empted Oct. 26 by the animated “Star
Wars Rebels,” but returns the next week.
Also, reruns on cable. Weekdays, that’s 11 a.m.
on TBS and 6 and 7 p.m. on WGN America, sometimes moving into prime time.