Geraldo Rivera and Dancing with the Stars: Close encounters of the first kind

How will Geraldo fare on Dancing with the Stars? My guess is he will dance his way at least into the late season finalists.

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, March 21, 2016 – When the curtain rises on the new season of “Dancing with the Stars” tonight, Geraldo Rivera will be among the contestants.

My brief, very brief, encounter with Geraldo came in September 2011 at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Truth be told, the only place better for meeting celebrities, other than a national political convention, would have to be on the red carpet at an awards event.

As a matter of full disclosure, I did spent most of my celebrity shopping energy hoping to “accidentally” happen upon Megyn Kelly while I was there. I even managed to hang out near the door of her convention hall studio on two occasions hoping she might appear. No such luck.

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Other “stars” were more accessible. Jesse Jackson had a perpetual entourage around him. In contrast, every time I saw Lanny Davis he looked as though he was trying to find someone to talk to.

Both times I came across Andrea Mitchell she was scowling about something.

I discovered that the best place for “bumping into” celebrities, for the average person anyway, was at the NASCAR Hall of Fame where “FOX & Friends” did a live broadcast each morning. Not only could you speak with Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy and Gretchen Carlson, but there was always a parade of well-known guests standing nearby for interviews.

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The former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, was quiet and soft-spoken, almost humble, when I met him. Journalist/commentator A.B. Stoddard appeared focused upon the all things political, perhaps due, in part, to the event at hand.

While standing around observing the scene, I was even asked to sit at a table as part of the background “audience,” which I happily did because it meant a free breakfast in the process.

My contact with Geraldo was more incidental than anything else. While making my way around the venue, I passed reporters row, where radio media were located with all manner of tables filled with electronic equipment, telephones and other machinery that was sequestered behind a single rope lining the perimeter of the area.

I was surprised to see Geraldo standing there talking on the phone because I had always imagined him as a television journalist. On the other hand, perhaps he was simply accessing the technology. Whatever the reason, Rivera appeared to be concentrating heavily on whatever his concern of the moment happened to be.

I stood there and voyeuristically watched for a few moments. Suddenly, Geraldo turned sharply and, in the process, knocked a piece of equipment from the cluttered table beside him. The electronic device crashed to the floor, separating in the middle and sending a small round battery rolling across the floor beyond the rope line.

Geraldo threw one hand in the air, palm up toward the ceiling, in frustration and continued his conversation. I rushed over and retrieved the battery and brought it back to the place where Rivera was still deeply engrossed in his call.

I handed the battery to Geraldo, who silently mouthed the words “thank you” before reaching out to shake my hand.

That was it. Nothing more. Nothing earthshaking or magnificent. Just an acknowledgement of thanks and a quick handshake.

I did have time to notice however, that Geraldo was remarkably small in stature. Though he appeared fit, and not someone you would want to meet in a dark alley, he was hardly an imposing figure.

Oddly enough, his diminutive size in real life made his trademark mustache appear even larger than it does on television. It seemed to me, anyway, that it almost swallowed his face.

From those few outward observations, it occurs to me now that given Rivera’s propensity for competition and his low center of gravity, he will likely be a well represented contestant on DWT.

How far he goes in the chase for the Mirror Ball Trophy is a matter of speculation, but my guess is that he will likely dance himself deep into the competition.

It will be fun to watch and to see the “other side” of Geraldo emerge. And like that little battery that rolled across the DNC convention floor, I will get a “charge” out of that.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

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