Chaz Bono and “Dancing with the Stars” aren’t done with each other just yet.
For one, he’s a non-competing guest on next week’s finale, already having rehearsed a couple of times for the big show.
“I’m really excited, [because] I don’t have to stand in front of the judges afterward — which is the worst part of it,” said Bono, the transgender author, activist and son of Cher. “So I can just have a good time.”
Then, a few days later, viewers can take a much closer look at Bono’s rollercoaster last few months, through “Being Chaz,” the follow-up to the network’s Emmy-nominated documentary “Becoming Chaz” (Nov. 27, 8 p.m. Eastern).
Naturally, it’s about much more than Bono’s late-in-the-season dust-up with judge Bruno Tonioli. It’s “a nice, private look” at what it’s like to be on the show, displaying the highs and lows of the experience — which featured much controversy, including numerous anti-transgender protests — plus its strain on his relationship with fiancee Jennifer Elia.
Plus, it features a brief — ever-so-brief, really — cameo from Cher.
“You’re going to hear her,” Bono said, “not see her.”
Here are some other things Bono touched upon during his Thursday conference call with reporters:
On his relationship with Elia:
Bono said “DWTS” and all that went with it made things “kind of difficult” with his fiancee.
“They were smoother for quite a long time,” he said, “but I think that when things got just a little bit complicated again. You kind of have to watch it; it’s hard for me to explain, but Jen and I are really different people, and we always handle things really differently, and I think that Jen kind of started to feel some pressure with what was happening in my life and with my public profile getting a little bit bigger, and also with having cameras on us.”
That said, the two remained “happily just engaged” — no set date or plan, but certainly still together.
On whether he expected all the DWTS drama:
In short, no. “I was prepared for something,” he said, “but I think it became larger than I expected. Not just the criticism, but the supportive response to that was moreso completely overwhelming to me.”
But would he trade it?
Nope. It might have been “mentally and physcailly the toughest job I’ve ever done,” something about which he said, “You really can’t understand it until you do it” — and remember, this is a man who has struggled with being a transgender person in America — but it still was an almost entirely positive experience.
“I definitely have made lifelong friends doing the show,” he said. “[I enjoyed] the opportunity to overcome things that you don’t think you can overcome, both physically and emotionally.
“I left definitely having more confidence in myself than when I started.”
What about Bruno?
Has he patched things up with the man who called him “cute little penguin”? Kind of. Bono said they spoke “very briefly,” and that he understands why such friction occurs — even if he doesn’t support it.
“Ultimately this is about entertainment,” Bono said. “But I think sometimes that can be at odds with thinking about the contestant’s feelings.
“For the time that I did the show, I didn’t do antyhing else. It became my whole life. I dedicated myself absolutely 100 percent. So when I’m giving that much, I expect [to be] treated with some respect. So I would hope that any show would find a way to entertain but also remembering you’re dealing with a human being.”
On his mom:
They’ve crossed paths on TV before, but have the two considered a joint production? “No, not really,” Bono said. “She has her projects, I have my projects, sometimes they intertwine for a second, but I think for me it’s always been important to be my own person and be my own man.”
But the two are on good terms, he said, better terms, despite their struggles — struggles also to be shown on OWN right after “Being Chaz” (through “‘I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition”).
“I don’t think it’s ever been about changing her mind or that she has fundamental difficulty with transgender people in any way; I think it’s just difficult for parents,” Bono said. “Over time, things become better and more comfortable. [So] nothing specifically happened. Time has happened.”