Hollywood’s biggest celebrities came out for tonight’s premiere of Dancing with the Stars. Actor Harry Hamlin watched wife Lisa Rinna waltz her way into America’s hearts. Singer Nick Lachey cheered on brother Drew, who set out to prove that there’s more to him than boy-band good looks. And TV legend David Carradine? Maybe he didn’t realize they’d already cast the show.
Tom Bergeron has taken time from his strenuous hosting duties on America’s Funniest Home Videos and returned as Dancing with the Stars’ host. ABC saved a little Christmas cheer for its viewers and canned former co-host Lisa Canning in favor of the E! Network’s Samantha Harris. Judges Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno have also returned for another season of bickering. Perhaps David Carradine was really on hand to use his Kung Fu in case the fighting got out of hand.
Tonight’s two-hour premiere featured each couple performing one dance. Male celebrities danced the Cha Cha Cha, while female celebrities danced the Waltz. Here’s how each couple did:
George Hamilton and Edyta Sliwinska – Professional dancer Edyta is back after her ill-fated partnership with Evander Holyfield last season. Perpetually tanned film star George looks like he’s made for ballroom dancing, but he’s 66 and has four broken ribs. His acting skills showed as he mugged his way through a somewhat sedate routine. He’s this season’s answer to John O’Hurley, and he’ll be fine until some of the more physically demanding dances.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7, Len – 5, Bruno – 6. Judges Total = 18/30
Lisa Rinna and Louis van Amstel – Louis is back with a new haircut, looking for redemption after he and Trista Sutter were last season’s first couple eliminated. Lisa’s got some free time after her character on Veronica Mars commited suicide, so what better way to kill time than competitive ballroom dancing? Husband Harry Hamlin also stars on Veronica Mars, but his character’s in jail, so he should be able to attend most of his wife’s performances. Lisa’s flexibility should prove useful (that’s what Harry said, Hey-O!), and she and Louis will be strong competitors once she gets over her nervousness.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 5, Len – 7, Bruno – 7. Judges Total = 19/30
Kenny Mayne and Andrea Hale – Former Sportscenter anchor Kenny may have signed on to this show as a lark, and Andrea’s got the difficult task of getting him to take the dancing seriously. It doesn’t help that Kenny’s the whitest man in America. He dances as poorly as the guys featured in the embarrassing wedding videos shown on Tom Bergeron’s other show. These two don’t stand a chance unless Kenny loosens up a bit. His jokes are the only things that may keep them in it until next week.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 4, Len – 5, Bruno – 4. Judges Total = 13/30
Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani – Professional wrestler Stacy is this year’s ringer. She’s beautiful with long legs and graceful arms, and she’s about 20 years younger than any of the other female celebs. Stacy’s partner, Tony, is too short for her and came off as a jackass when he kept ogling her. As long as they stop dancing at arms length and start interacting with each other, this couple will win.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 6, Bruno – 8. Judges Total = 22/30
Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke – Drew is best known as the brother of Jessica Simpson’s soon-to-be ex-hubby, Nick Lachey. Drew’s got some dance experience from his time in the pop band 98 Degrees, but he’s never had to master the disciplined moves required for ballroom. When in her dancing makeup, Drew’s partner, Cheryl, is a doppleganger of the girl who plays Angela on Bones. Cheryl’s too intense to let Drew slack off, which bodes well for this team. They danced the best Cha Cha Cha of the night, and they could make it all the way to the finals.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 8, Bruno – 8. Judges Total = 24/30
Tia Carrere and Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Wayne’s World babe Tia had a child three months ago and hopes that dancing will quickly take off her pregnancy weight. Her partner, Maksim, is a frightening Russian mafioso whose highest compliment for Tia is that her dancing is “not disgusting.” But he made her look beautiful during the waltz, so this duo could be a force to be reckoned with.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 6, Len – 7, Bruno – 7. Judges Total = 20/30
Master P and Ashly DelGrosso – Ashly’s back after a respectable run as Joey McIntyre’s partner last season. Master P is a fill-in after his son, hip-hopper Romeo, withdrew due to injury. P doesn’t seem that interested in dancing and is treating this merely as a job to be done. He gave the night’s most unenthusiastic performance as Ashly did all the work. Too bad we won’t get to see much more of you, Ashly. You’re a class act. Maybe next season you can dance with Survivor’s Stephenie LaGrossa. Who could stop DelGrosso/LaGrossa?
Scores: Carrie Ann – 4, Len – 4, Bruno – 4. Judges Total = 12/30
Giselle Fernandez and Jonathan Roberts – Jonathan, Rachel Hunter’s partner last season, is back for another go-round. TV journalist Giselle grew up with a famous flamenco dancer for a father, and dancing ability looks like it may be genetic. Jonathan’s a great choreographer who excels at letting his partner shine, so they should remain competitive.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7, Len – 6, Bruno – 8. Judges Total = 23/30
Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya – Former 49er Jerry is looking for another physical challenge now that his football career is over. His partner, Anna, may be more demanding than any of Jerry’s football coaches ever were. With the pressure of his teammates watching him, Jerry put in a lot of work to make sure he didn’t look foolish on the dance floor. Apart from Drew, Jerry’s the only male celeb with any moves.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7, Len – 7, Bruno – 7. Judges Total = 21/30
Tatum O’Neal and Nick Kosovich – Tatum brings a lot of baggage to the dance floor as a former child star with a history of drug problems. (Is there any other kind of former child star?) Her Aussie partner, Nick, looks like the Wayne Newton of ballroom dancing. If Tatum would just shut up for a minute, it might be easier to appreciate her dancing. The audience may lose its patience for her long before she loses a step.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 7, Len – 6, Bruno – 8. Judges Total = 23/30
1 – Drew and Cheryl
2 – Giselle and Jonathan, Tatum and Nick (tie)
4 – Stacy and Tony
5 – Jerry and Anna
6 – Tia and Maksim
7 – Lisa and Louis
8 – George and Edyta
9 – Kenny and Andrea
10 – Master P and Ashly
Audience votes will determine half of the overall score for each couple, and results will be aired during a live show tomorrow night. Also on tomorrow’s show, Burt Bacharach performs. Look forward to a lethargic performance of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” by the house band’s unenthusiastic male singer.
My vote tonight: George and Edyta. He earned it in Zorro, The Gay Blade.