'Dancing with the Stars' reveals seventh-season cast and pairings
By Steve Rogers, 08/25/2008
ABC has revealed the identities of the 13 celebrities and accompanying professional partners -- the show's biggest cast yet -- who will be waltzing their way into primetime when Dancing with the Stars' seventh season premieres with the first part of a special three-night debut on Monday, September 22 at 8PM ET/PT.
The 13 celebrities who will be competing for Dancing with the Stars' seventh mirror ball trophy will be former 'N Sync member Lance Bass, Grammy-winning singer and actress Toni Braxton; model, actress and former Rock Star host Brooke Burke; celebrity chef, former The Restaurant star and upcoming Rocco Gets Real star Rocco DiSpirito; two-time Olympic gold medalist track star Maurice Greene; Keeping up with the Kardashians star Kim Kardashian; award-winning actress and former The Mary Tyler Moore Show star Cloris Leachman; teenage Hannah Montana actor Cody Linley; legendary All My Children actress Susan Lucci; two-time Olympic gold medalist beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor; former Happy Days and Married with Children actor Ted McGinley; comedian and actor Jeffrey Ross; and recently retired NFL player Warren Sapp.
Nine of the season's 13 professional partners will be previous Dancing with the Stars participants, including all four of the show's previous champions -- first season champion Alec Mazo, second and third season champion Cheryl Burke, fourth and fifth season champion Julianne Hough, and sixth-season champion Mark Ballas.
Three new professionals will be participating in the show for the first time -- former third-season So You Think You Can Dancefinale finalist Lacey Schwimmer; World Latin Champion Corky Ballas, Mark Ballas' father; and current U.S. Amateur 10 Dance Champion Inna Brayer.
For the first time ever, all of the season's couples will have to prepare two routines for the first week of competition, one of which they'll perform on Monday night. Then, after the broadcast's home viewer votes votes are combined with the judges' initial Monday night scores, one couple will be eliminated and only 12 pairs will be given the chance to perform their second routine on Tuesday night.
The lowest-ranked couple from Tuesday night's broadcast will then be eliminated on a special Wednesday broadcast of Dancing with the Stars' initial seventh-season results show, after which the show will settle into its usual Monday night performance show and Tuesday night results show schedule.
Although siblings Julianne and Derek Hough have both competed in each of Dancing with the Stars' last two seasons, Corky Ballas' participation will mark the first time that the show's professional cast has included both a parent and their child.
Julianne -- who was paired with radio personality and former The Man Show co-host Adam Carolla last season -- will be paired with 18-year-old Linley, the youngest celebrity to ever compete on the show. Hough won the series' Spring 2007 fourth season with Apolo Anton Ohno and its fifth season with Helio Castroneves.
Julianne's older brother Derek -- who finished fourth with Jennie Garth during the show's fifth installment and in sixth place with now real-life girlfriend Shannon Elizabeth on last spring's edition -- will be paired with Brooke Burke.
Mazo will be paired with Braxton and hoping that taking last season off succeeded in ending his recent run of bad luck. After winning Dancing with the Stars' inaugural season with Kelly Monaco, Mazo didn't participate in the show's second and third seasons. He then returned and became part of the first team eliminated from the show's next two installments -- cut first during the fourth season with Paulina Porizkova and again in the fifth season with Josie Maran -- before once again skipping last spring's sixth season.
Cheryl Burke will team with Greene. Burke won the series' second season with Drew Lachey and its third season with Emmitt Smith but hasn't been able to reclaim the mirror ball trophy since. She was paired with Ian Ziering for the show's fourth season and Wayne Newton during the show's fifth season. She and Cristian de la Fuente made it to the show's finale last season, however they came up short and finished third.
After deciding he needed "a break" and taking last season off, Chmerkovskiy will return and be paired with May-Treanor. Chmerkovskiy was partnered with Tia Carrere for the show's second edition; finished sixth with Willa Ford during its third installment; finished third in the fourth season with Laila Ali; and suffered a similar fate on last fall's fifth edition, where he and Melanie Brown finished as the season's runner-ups.
Dovolani will be paired with Lucci. He was paired with Stacy Keibler during the show's second season; Sarah Evans during its third; Leeza Gibbons during its fourth; Jane Seymour during the fifth season; and finished fourth with Marissa Jaret Winokur on last season's competition.
Sliwinska -- who is married to Mazo and the only professional to compete on all seven Dancing with the Stars editions -- will be paired with Ross.
After receiving unfavorable pairings with Evander Holyfield and George Hamilton in the show's first two seasons, Sliwinska got lucky and did well with Joey Lawrence in the third season. However lady luck turned a blind eye to Sliwinska in the fourth, when her original partner, The Sopranos actor Vincent Pastore, quit the competition and she was instead paired with Cheers actor John Ratzenberger. She finished fifth with Cameron Mathison on the show's fifth season and finished second with Jason Taylor last season.
Smirnoff will compete with DiSpirito. Smirnoff made her Dancing with the Stars debut during the third season and was the runner-up with Mario Lopez, whom she proceeded to date until this summer. She was then paired with Billy Ray Cyrus for the fourth season, Floyd Mayweather for the fifth season, and Mario Barrett last season.
Schwimmer will be paired with Bass. ABC's announcement brings an end to recent talk that Bass -- who came out of the closet and confirmed he was gay when reports that he was dating fourth-season The Amazing Race co-winner Reichen Lehmkuhl began to break two years ago -- may be paired with a male partner.
Corky Ballas will be competing with Leachman -- who at 82, will be show's oldest competitor ever -- while Brayer will be paired with McGinley.
According to ABC, Dancing with the Stars' producers take several factors into consideration when determining each season's pairings, including height, personality and personal compatibility.