ABC's 'Dancing with the Stars' to feature 'Bachelorette' Trista Sutter among its celebrities
By Reality TV World staff, 05/10/2005
ABC has announced the identities of the six celebrities competing in Dancing with the Stars, its previously announced six-episode adaptation of the British Strictly Come Dancing ballroom dancing competition series that the network will premiere Wednesday, June 1 at 9PM ET/PT. And in a move that is bound to polarize reality fans, the network has cast former original Bachelorette Trista Rehn, now known as Trista Sutter, as one of the show's participants.
Rounding out the rest of the show's celebrity cast will be former heavyweight boxing champion of the world Evander Holyfield, one-time New Kids on the Block member Joey McIntyre, actor John O'Hurley (best known for his portrayal of Seinfeld's J. Peterman character), and Kelly Monaco, an actress on ABC's General Hospital daytime soap opera.
An unusual reality concept, Dancing with the Stars will feature six celebrities paired with leading professional dancers and training to compete -- complete with dazzling costumes -- in a live knockout ballroom dancing competition. Similar to Fox's American Idol, Dancing with the Stars will have an audience participation element, with each episode allowing viewers to vote for the dancer that they feel has best learned to master and execute the difficult dance moves.
"I am fully aware that this may sound like the craziest show anyone has ever heard of," ABC executive Andrea Wong stated in last month's announcement of the network's pickup of the series. "But in a world where it's easier for reality series to imitate than innovate, I just loved how fresh this format is. And the show's global success just shows how audiences around the world find it to be surprising, and undeniably fun."
Given that ABC recognizes that the odd series is likely to need all the help that it can get if it hopes to connect with viewers, the stunt casting return of Trista -- arguably the network's biggest reality star -- is, in retrospect, unsurprising and consistent with the "Romber" approach that CBS recently used for its burgeoning The Amazing Race series. Then again, given that newlyweds Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich will soon join Trista and her husband Ryan Sutter in having their wedding televised, perhaps Trista simply felt that turnabout was fair play (after all, coming on the heels of Trista and Ryan's appearance on February's NBC Fear Factor: Reality Stars special, neither reality couple appears particularly anxious to leave the spotlight anytime soon.)
ABC has also announced the identities of each celebrity's partner. Trista will be competing with Louis van Amstel, a Latin dance world legend. Hunter will be competing with Jonathan Roberts, the 2004 USA Rising Star Latin Champion and the twice-undefeated USA Pro-Am 10 Dance Champion. Holyfield will be competing with Edyta Sliwinska, who won the 2001 International Grand Ballroom Competition and the 2001 Holiday Ball. McIntyre will be competing with Ashly Delgrosso, who has won several Amateur Ten Dance titles with her ex-husband. O'Hurley will be competing with Charlotte Jorgensen, a Danish beauty who has held several titles, including 1999 U.S. Open Champion and 1998 Japanese Open International Ballroom Champion. Monaco will be competing with Alec Mazo, a former Emerald Ball Latin Champion who also placed first in the 2001 International Grand Ball and the 2001 Holiday Ball. Alec also recently began competing professionally with his girlfriend of four years, Edyta Sliwinska -- the woman who is serving as Holyfield's partner during the competition.
With production of the series having already begun, the couples are already undergoing the intense training and preparation that will be required for Dancing with the Stars' first live show. During live shows, judges will give a score based on several factors, including technical execution, however as mentioned earlier, the judges' scores alone will not decide a couple's fate. Instead, the judges' scores will be combined with those of the show's home viewers, with the combination forming the ultimate score that will determine each couples' ranking.
At the end of each episode, the couple with the lowest score will be eliminated (although no couple will be eliminated in the first show.) When the final two couples remain, the ultimate dance-off will determine which couple wins the show's first prize trophy.