“Dancing with the Stars” cast a wide net in its search for Season 28 celebrities revealing a field that ranges from former Trump aide (Sean Spicer) to supermodel (Christie Brinkley) to the latest “Bachelorette” (Hannah Brown).
ABC’s new “DWTS,” due Sept. 16, is a long time coming for fans who didn’t get a spring competition, the first time since 2006 the show had only one edition in the same TV season. “Dancing” seeks to make a bigger splash, given that time gap, and promises “one of the best casts we’ve had in years,” says executive producer Andrew Llinares.
“We’ve been off the air for a year, (so) we wanted to make it feel like a big annual event,” he says. “There’s something for everyone in the cast, young and old. There’s people from the world of sports, music, acting, all sorts of different areas.”
Spicer, 47, who reportedly turned down a “DWTS” offer shortly after leaving the White House in 2017, is a lightning rod for criticism – and attention – among those who object to how he handled his role as President Trump’s press secretary.
Asked if there is any concern that Spicer, whose presence at the 2017 Emmys blew up Twitter, will turn off some viewers, Llinares says he’s not courting controversy, but acknowledges Spicer’s notoriety as a “talked-about name.”
“It’s really fun for us to have people from all different walks of life, representing all different parts of this great country,” he says.
Host Tom Bergeron tweeted that he had hoped the show “would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from ANY party affiliations.”
Brinkley, 65, caused a social-media stir posting bathing-suit photos that testify to her fitness. And Brown, 24, is still breaking down her “Bachelorette” experience. Other Season 28 celebrity dancers:
- Actors James Van Der Beek, 42, of “Dawson’s Creek;” Kate Flannery, 55, of “The Office”; and Kel Mitchell, 40, known for Nickelodeon’s “Kenan & Kel” and “All That.”
- Athletes Lamar Odom, 39, a two-time NBA champ who struggled in a basketball comeback attempt this year, and pro football Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, 44.
- Singers Ally Brooke, 26, a Fifth Harmony member and solo performer; “American Idol” finalist and country artist Lauren Alaina, 24; and the legendary Mary Wilson, 75, a founding member of The Supremes.
“Queer Eye” culture expert Karamo Brown, 38, rounds out the dancing dozen.
“My kids are all super starstruck that I get to meet Karamo,” Van Der Beek says.
Van Der Beek, best known for “Dawson’s Creek” and most recently on FX’s “Pose,” says the timing was perfect, because he just finished developing a TV series and is eager to perform.
“I love to dance. I love music. I love to move. I love that expression,” says the actor, who never had formal dance training. “The idea of jumping on stage and having a direct connection with an audience again was way too much fun to pass up.”
Familiar faces and a couple of newcomers make up the group of professional dancers who will be paired with the celebrities. Unlike in past seasons, those pairings won’t be revealed until the season premiere.
The pros: Returning Brandon Armstrong, Lindsay Arnold, Alan Bersten, Cheryl Burke, Witney Carson, Val Chmerkovskiy, Sasha Farber, Jenna Johnson, Keo Motsepe and Peta Murgatroyd, along with newcomers Daniella Karagach and Pasha Paskov.
ABC hopes “Dancing,” a one-time ratings juggernaut that experienced a substantial viewership decline last fall, will be rested and rejuvenated when it returns. The network’s revival of “American Idol” has taken over primetime real estate the last two spring seasons; ”Dancing” aired a short four-week all-athletes edition in spring 2018.
For Flannery, who played hard-living Meredith on “The Office,” the competition offers a delightful change of pace.
“I feel like I spent nine years playing the least glamorous character on the most unglamorous show on TV, so the opportunity to be a little glamorous on TV really appealed to me,” she says.
Flannery, who had dance training as a youth and appeared in college musicals, expects to have “Office” colleagues like Angela Kinsey cheering her on at tapings.
“Dancing is an old friend, and we’ll see if we’re going to get along again,” she says. “Dancing might be mad at me. I’ll find out soon.”
Read more at usatoday.com.