Here's what to look for when ‘Dancing With the Stars' returns Monday
The Orlando Sentinel (MCT) - The most popular series on ABC returns at 8 p.m. EDT Monday, and the Disney-owned network needs the ratings lift from "Dancing With the Stars." The producers have enlisted a wide range of celebrities from rapper Lil' Kim to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to gymnast Shawn Johnson. Executive producer Conrad Green provided a preview:
Olympic gold-medalist Johnson and "Access Hollywood" co-anchor Nancy O'Dell.
Johnson is a quick study who is picking up ballroom quickly, Green said. She is paired with former champ Mark Ballas, who can do a back flip. "They'll be pushing the envelope physically," Green said.
O'Dell has incredible long legs. "When she extends, she looks regal, glamorous, elegant," Green said.
_Who is being challenged?
Football great Lawrence Taylor. "I think he was completely thrown by it," Green said. "He hadn't watched the show much. He just thought it'd be fun." Green says the contest is going to be difficult for Taylor, although he has trained more than any other football player at this stage.
Belinda Carlisle of The Go-Go's has had an issue getting dizzy during the waltz. "Can she get through the routine without throwing up on live television?" Green asked. "That's a first I'd rather not have."
_Who's the Cloris Leachman in this bunch?
The Oscar-winner generated headlines with her antics. This time around, the show has reality star Steve-O. "He's so crazy. It's a family show, but he's sobered up," Green said. "He wants to prove he can entertain people without being self-destructive." Steve-O also has physical skills after training as a clown.
Funnyman David Alan Grier will perform well and carry the audience along with him, Green predicted. Dancing doesn't come naturally for Wozniak, but Green called him "a sincere, lovely bloke."
_What about injuries?
Singer Jewel hurt her knee while training. "She will be able to perform," Green said. "Her doctors told her not to overdo it. She was working eight hours a day. Her husband was telling her, 'You've got to calm down, love.'"
Her husband is rodeo star Ty Murray, who is also competing. "You can't get more masculine and cowboy than Ty," Green said. "This is very fish out of water. He's getting into it." Murray is dancing with Chelsie Hightower, and Jewel is performing with Dmitry Chaplin. Both pros are newcomers to the show.
_The couples with the sizzle factor
Rapper Lil' Kim will be with reigning champ Derek Hough. Green called her funny and upbeat. Their routines? Dynamite, Green said.
Actress Denise Richards asked to be paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. "They've got great chemistry," Green said. "I'm hoping she'll really be good. The difficult thing for her has been balance and finesse."
"Sex and the City" actor Gilles Marini is paired with two-time champ Cheryl Burke. "With Cheryl, it will be sheer sexiness," Green said. "Gilles is enormously charming and fun. Every woman who meets him goes red in the face."
_Partners who are a couple
Country singer Chuck Wicks will dance with girlfriend Julianne Hough, a two-time champ. Don't think they have an advantage. They didn't start training until after everyone else because Wicks was performing across the country, Green said. "It's an interesting dynamic to see a couple talking to each other about dance," Green said. "It feels very intimate. It's nice to see that side of Julianne. He's one of the funniest people we've ever had on the show. I don't know how good he'll be as a dancer."
© 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
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