'Dancing With the Stars': Drama before it even debuts (2023)

It's been crazy this season on Dancing With the Stars, and it hasn't even started yet. Well, it's starting now! You probably heard that Nancy O'Dell and Jewel had to drop out due to injury, and there's been all kinds of mystery about who was going to take their place.

Well, not that much. It was reported today that Holly Madison (from The Girls Next Door) and Melissa Rycroft (just dumped on The Bachelor) would be joining the cast. ABC wouldn't confirm it, but their web site does -- sort of.


First up are Lil' Kim and Derek Hough. She says she first watched the show when she was in prison. Also, she says she's Lil' Kim, but man, she hardly looks like her old self. Upon meeting Derek, she says, "I'm going to look like black Barbie, and he's my Ken." Then she dedicates her performance to the women in the Federal Detention Center. They dance the cha cha to "Nasty Boys," and she seems pretty comfortable on stage, which will put her ahead of some of her competitors, no doubt. Head judge Len Goodman says it was the first night, first dance and overall "first class." Bruno Tonioli says she's "nasty but tasty" and that she works "wonders with that tushy." Carrie Ann Inaba says she was a little shaky, and she needs to not think of it as another style of dance, "but just let it out." Scores: 7-7-7, for a 21/30.

Next are Belinda Carlisle and Jonathan Roberts. Belinda is from the Go-Gos. She gets off to a rough start because every time they spin, she gets disoriented. Their first dance is the waltz to "What the World Needs Now." She's a touch wobbly, but she's clearly giving it her all. Bruno says her first spin she looked like Julie Andrews, and after that she looked like Cloris Leachman. Whoops. He calls out her heavy footwork. Carrie Ann says it wasn't great, but it certainly wasn't Cloris. She adds that Belinda needs to trust Jonathan and let him lead. Len says they saw some grace and elegance with some moments of awkwardness. Scores: 6-6-5, for a 17/30.

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Lawrence Taylor and Edyta Sliwinksa are next. When they first meet, Edyta tells him that football players always do very well, and he says everyone has been telling him that. Their first dance is the cha-cha, which is a little stilted because you can see him counting the steps out loud, and Edyta is clearly leading him. But he's having fun with it, so that's a plus. Carrie Ann asks if he lived up to the legend of other football players on this dance floor, and he says, "Not yet." Len says he had a nice natural, casual approach and it was well done. Bruno says he needs to attack it, to come out and perform. I guess Bruno has decided he is the Simon Cowell this season! Scores: 6-5-5, for a 16/30.

Steve-O and Lacey Schwimmer are partnered up. Steve-O says he is on the show to prove that even though he's sober, "I haven't lost my mojo." He says he has "disadvantages for days: I'm very Caucasian." He also mentions his bad balance. They dance the waltz, and they begin with a handstand by Steve-O, which is more elegant than it sounds. Some of his footwork looks a little wonky, but they do a better job than I anticipated. Len says he came out fully commited, and it was not as bad as he thought. Bruno says it was a big pile of slapstick that did make him laugh -- really? I didn't think they were trying to be funny. Carrie Ann says she was oddly mesmerized by the beauty, the weirdness, and the awkwardness. Scores: 6-5-6, for a 17/30.

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Gilles Marini, who is pretty much only known for being naked in the Sex and the City movie, is partners with Cheryl Burke, who wants to be three-time champion. Their first dance is the cha-cha. Cheryl says she wants them to make it so sexy that it makes people uncomfortable to watch them, and I don't think they exactly get there. Partly because it seems like Cheryl is dancing twice as hard as Gilles is. Carrie Ann gives them a woo-hoo and says he has great potential. Bruno says he knows how to strut his stuff and that Cheryl "has something to play with this time." Len thinks Gilles pulls off the choreography. Scores: 8-8-8, for a 24/30.

Country star Chuck Wicks is dating Julianne Hough, and they are also partners on the show. They discuss that it's tough to figure out their teaching relationship since they have a pre-existing relationship. They waltz to "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" They look very graceful, especially with his tux's tails, but some of his footwork is kind of spotty, and his shoulders are up around his ears. As they head to the judges, Julianne says she's never seen him this nervous. Bruno says they looked good at times, but at other times, he was trying to chase a whirlwind. Len says it was hectic here and there, but he had good footwork. He adds, though, that his posture was "bizarre." Carrie Ann says he is one of the "most graceful men" they've ever had on the show, but dings them for a slight lift. Scores: 6-7-7, for a 20/30.

Tom Bergeron briefly talks with Jewel and Nancy O'Dell, who won't be dancing.

Jewel's substitute is Holly Madison, who has been a Playboy cover girl and starred on The Girls Next Door. Her partner is Dmitri Chaplin (who along with Chelsie Hightower, who just joined DWTS this season, and Lacey Schwimmer is making me that that So You Think You Can Dance should be renamed So You Think You Can Dance With the Stars -- all three of them are alums of the Fox show). Holly has five days to learn as much as the other dancers hae learned in weeks. She says she doesn't have any dance experience. That would be terrifying! They do the cha-cha to "Just Dance." It's OK, but it's pretty clear she is playing catch-up, and there is a part toward the end where it looks like she gets lost for a bit, but by the end, she's doing the choreography. Well, Dmitri had a lot of fans from his time to SYTYCD, so that should help, too. Len says it wasn't bad and hopefully it was enough to get them through to next week. Carrie Ann says she has a lot of charisma and she went for it. Then she compares her to a newborn deer, hee. Bruno says some of the sections were good, but she lost timing a few times, "but there is hope, my darling." Scores: 6-6-6, for an 18/30.

Nancy's substitute is Melissa Rycroft from The Bachelor, but they aren't dancing yet.

First are Jewel's husband Ty Murray, "king of the cowboys," and Chelsie Hightower, who actually gets to acknowledge that she's from So You Think You Can Dance, unlike Lacey and Dmitri. They are also dancing the cha cha. Well, Chelsie does. Ty tries really, really hard. Bruno says it looked more like an Army drill, and that he got into a "terrible muddle." "There is always next week," he closes. Len says he came out and tried. Carrie Ann, who had her head down on the table when Bruno was talking, says he is a cute cowboy and he attacked the dance. She adds that he let go and had fun. Scores: 5-4-5, for a 14/30.

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Next are Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas. During their training, Mark talks to her about connecting with the emotion of the dance, and she says it's tough for her because "in gymnastics, you're taught not to show emotion because emotion is weakness." She's also having trouble because she keeps smiling and giggling, which doesn't work well with the waltz. However, while she might not have dance experience, she obviously has grace and extension and flexibility thanks to gymnastics, and she seems to have gotten her giggly jitters out in rehearsal. Carrie Ann says she was "truly moved." She says she has dynamism. Bruno says it was surprisingly refined for someone so young. He does tell her to watch out for "gymnastic arms." Len says he found it very appealing and that they did a great job. Scores: 8-8-7, for a 23/30.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is partnered with Karina Smirnoff, who says she can bring the sexy side out of any partner. I'm not really sure I want to see that. In rehearsal, he looks hilarious in a giant T-shirt, black socks and black shoes and black shorts. They're doing the cha-cha, which begins with Steve wearing a giant boa for some unknown reason. Oh, Lord, it's so bad. I mean, he's giving it his best shot (and Karina's trying to get them some votes in an outfit that might actually offer the least coverage of any in DWTS history, and you know that's saying something). But no, Woz, I'm sorry. Len says the good news was it held his attention, and he was fascinated. "But overall, it was a disaster." Bruno says it was "like watching a Teletubby going mad." "That's almost a compliment," Woz says. Carrie Ann says he's what this is about, going on a limb and doing something new. "You make us want to cheer for you," she says. He says he had so much fun they're testing him for drugs tomorrow, and then he has to explain that it was a joke. Well, Ty, you might be safe thanks to Woz is all I'm saying. Scores: 5-4-4, for a 13/30.

David Alan Grier and Kym Johnson are partners this season. She says she thought at first, he was in this for a joke but that he is 100 percent serious about doing well. They are doing the waltz this evening. He's working hard to sell it, but it's quite lovely, and it actually looks like David is leading. Bruno says he had some good lines, but when he leaned toward her, his posture was weird. He also says his face was all over the place. Carrie Ann says he needs to keep his face in check so it doesn't distract from his move. Len says he did a commendable job, but he needs to work on keeping his "bum" from sticking out. Scores: 6-7-6, for a 19/30.

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A little clarification: Next week, the couples will dance for another set of judges' scores and votes, and on Tuesday, the bottom two will compete in a dance-off. So I guess the judges will choose who goes home. So that means no results show tomorrow. Hooray, I might get to sleep!

Denise Richards is partners with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the bad boy of the ballroom and Karina's fiance. They, too, dance the cha-cha tonight. They do all right, but something seems clunky or off-kilter, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe the judges will help. Carrie Ann says Denise looked terrified, which was weird because she has great potential. Len says she gave it a real shot, but it was all a little bit loose, and it looked like Maks was pulling her around. Bruno says she has it all but she doesn't know what to do with it. Scores: 6-6-6, for 18/30.

Last are Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani. ABC shows the footage of her being dumped again. Tom Bergeron: "Two words, Jason: people skills." She just started training on Saturday morning. Yikes, that's scary. But she apparently has ballet training and a cheerleading background, so that helps. A lot. They do a great job, though she has a smile pasted on her face the whole time like a beauty pageant contestant. Nancy O'Dell risks her meniscus to give a standing ovation. Len says the Bachelor's loss is Dancing With the Stars' gain. He points out her balletic footwork and says she needs to work on it. Bruno says he doesn't know the Bachelor guy, "but he's a LOOOOOSER." Carrie Ann says she has great lines and is a beautiful dancer. She does mention that she needs to have more emotional connection to the dance itself instead of just being happy to be there. During the interview, she points out that she was a Cowboys cheerleader and did ballet when she was younger. Tony says he took all the ballet moves he knew and put waltz around it since they had so little time. Scores: 8-7-8, for a 23/30. Oh, she's not going anywhere for a while. First, she can dance, and even if she couldn't, there's an angry public out there pulling for something good to happen to her after last week's mess.


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What did you think of the season debut? Who'd you vote for?

P.S. In case you doubted that all of this was last minute and stressful for the network, check out what ABC's Dancing With the Stars site looked like just before tonight's 8 p.m. premiere. (I promise these are undoctored screen shots I took just before 8):


1. Sasha Alex Sloan - Dancing With Your Ghost (Lyric Video)
(Sasha Alex Sloan)
2. SAYGRACE - You Don't Own Me ft. G-Eazy (Official Video)
3. NEVER BEFORE SEEN footage of One Direction's formation | The X Factor UK
(The X Factor UK)
4. Ed Sheeran - The A Team [Official Music Video]
(Ed Sheeran)
5. Gymnastic FAILS That SHOCKED The WORLD..
(Sports Dive)
6. Five - Until the Time Is Through
(Five Official)
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