Ox Notes: DwtS 8 Premiere Edition

Dancing with the Stars 8 debuts tonight on ABC at 8 ET. Here’s some last minute news before the big two-hour premiere.

Last week, it was reported that Holly Madison would take the place of Jewel, who had to drop out of the competition after fracturing both tibias during rehearsal.

Now People reports that the spot left open by Nancy O’Dell, who has a torn meniscus in her knee, will be filled by Melissa Rycroft, the woman who got dumped by The Bachelor last week. O’Dell spoke with Access Hollywood about her injury.

A source inside DwtS confirmed to People that Madison and Rycroft will dance during tonight’s premiere, even though they’ve only had days to practice. Since there is no Results Show this week, Madison and Rycroft won’t be penalized for having had less time to rehearse than the other couples.

What do you think of the latest additions to DwtS 8? Melissa Rycroft was certainly cast because she dominated headlines last week, and Holly Madison has had her fair share of publicity recently as well, after leaving Hugh Hefner and dumping Criss Angel. If newsworthiness was the main casting requirement, I assume that Rycroft and Madison were cast only after Rihanna and the Octomom rejected ABC’s offers.

EW.com ranked the DwtS 8 contestants before Jewel and O’Dell confirmed that they’d be leaving the show; TV Guide’s reader poll ranks the contestants without them. Which of the dancers do you think will burn out early, and who’s in it for the long haul?

ET caught up with Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff in rehearsal and recorded a video interview. Us Weekly has a photo gallery of all of the couples in rehearsal.

In another video, The Insider filmed DwtS co-host Samantha Harris, Denise Richards and the female pro dancers as they enjoyed a pre-show spa day. Is it just me, or did Edyta Sliwinska seem a little nervous about her chances this season?

If you’re still hungry for more Dancing with the Stars news, feast upon these interviews with Shawn Johnson, Gilles Marini, Derek Hough and the wonderful Tom Bergeron.

A link to the MOIB chatroom is already posted on the homepage; you’re welcome to gather there during the East Coast live broadcast of DwtS to chat with other fans. Greg and I may check in on the chat (which is often much more fun than the show itself), but we won’t make a point of watching the show live, as we have in the past. I’ve been disappointed in the last two seasons, so I plan to record the show and watch the routines later that night.

Consequently, I won’t be posting full recaps of the show this season. After the East Coast broadcast airs, I’ll post a thread with the night’s scores and space for comments. Tuesday morning, I’ll post what videos of the routines I find on YouTube. And, of course, I’ll still be posting DwtS news throughout the week in Ox Notes.

Here’s hoping Dancing with the Stars 8 returns the show to its former glory.