“Dancing with the Stars” will have a new host for Season 29.
If you’ve watched any TV lately – and face it, who hasn’t? – you’ll probably recognize some of the celebrity dancers on Season 29 of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” premiering Sept. 14 (8 EDT/PDT). They’ve been on some of the biggest hits of the pandemic TV season.
This fall’s star lineup includes animal activist Carole Baskin, who became a household name on “Tiger King.” There’s Chrishell Stause, who created a recent splash on “Selling Sunset.” Charles Oakley, whose basketball talents were on display in “The Last Dance,” will try his footwork on the dance floor. And Monica Aldama of Netflix’s docuseries “Cheer,” shifts from cheerleading coach to dancing competitor.
The quartet joins 11 other celebrity dancers announced Wednesday. (Their pro dancer pairings will be revealed during the Season 29 premiere).
Tyra Banks takes over as host for Season 29 of ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ (Photo: Ian Tuttle, Getty Images for Breakthrough P)
“We felt it was important to have a very relevant cast, to feel like people that we’re talking about now,” co-executive producer Deena Katz tells USA TODAY. Even if there are no controversy magnets like Bristol Palin or last year’s Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s first press secretary, “We have a lot of people that are on current television shows and in the news. There’s a little more sense of timeliness.”
This year’s dancers will take to a ballroom floor featuring changes. There’ll be no studio audience because of the pandemic, but the show will have a new host: Tyra Banks, who replaces longtime co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews. There will be plenty of familiar “Dancing” faces, too, as judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli return, along with many of the audience’s favorite pro dancers.
“Tyra is going to bring a new energy to the show. She’s a fan and I think she will bring a real warmth and compassion to the couples,” producer Andrew Llinares says.
Carole Baskin of ‘Tiger King’ fame will be one of the celebrity dancers on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ which premieres Sept. 14. (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)
As for why Bergeron and Andrews were replaced, Llinares says changes are necessary for a long-running series, which Bergeron has hosted since its summer 2005 premiere: “It’s always a challenge with any show that’s been on for many to keep the audience excited and engaged. It’s part of the evolution of the show.”
The full list of contestants:
- Carole Baskin, 59, “Tiger King”
- Kaitlyn Bristowe, 35, “The Bachelor” (Season 19), “The Bachelorette” (Season 11).
- Jeannie Mai, 41, “Holey Moley” sideline correspondent; host of daytime talk show “The Real”
- Anne Heche, 51, actress
- Nelly, 45, rapper
- AJ McLean, 42, Backstreet Boys
- Monica Aldama, 50, head cheerleading coach, “Cheer”
- Charles Oakley, 56,former NBA star
- Johnny Weir, 36, Olympic figure skater
- Vernon Davis, 36, former NFL star
- Justina Machado, 47, actress, “One Day at a Time”
- Chrishell Stause, 39, “Selling Sunset”
- Jesse Metcalfe, 41, actor, “Desperate Housewives”
- Skai Jackson, 18, actress, Disney Channel’s “Jessie”
- Nev Schulman, 35, host, “Catfish: The TV Show”
Producers are mum about pandemic-related production changes, although they say the pairs won’t be wearing masks or dance socially distantly, if that were even possible.
“One of the things that helped bring the cast together was being able to reassure everybody that we had great safety protocols in place,” Llinares says. “We really thought about every element of the show in terms of how we do this in a safe way.”
Stause, who’s new to dancing and just started practicing with her partner, says the health protocols make her feel “very safe” but are just one sign “that the season is going to be very different” from earlier editions.
“It’s sad that you won’t get the full effect of a live audience,” she says. “But then there’s a part that’s positive, where it’s like, ‘Well, maybe that will make me less nervous.”
COVID-19 created casting challenges for “DWTS,” but it also provided opportunities. Grammy-winning rapper Nelly and Backstreet Boy McLean would have been too busy touring if the pandemic hadn’t shut concerts down, Katz says.
“There are certain people who would be very busy normally and not able to do the show who are actually available because of the situation we’re in and are doing the show,” Llinares says. “And there are people who were nervous about doing the show because of this and maybe didn’t come on board for that reason.”
The pro dancing field: Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burgess, Cheryl Burke, Artem Chigvintsev, Val Chmerkovskiy, Sasha Farber, Jenna Johnson, Daniella Karagach, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Pasha Pashkov, Gleb Savchenko, Emma Slater and Britt Stewart.
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