SAN DIEGO, September 14, 2014 – Season 19 of “Dancing With the Stars” will get underway Monday with a new judge and 13 stars including athletes, TV and film stars past and present, and for the first time, a fashion designer and a YouTube celebrity.
The only thing fans can count on for sure is the intriguing mix of successes and failures, surprises, disappointments, overcoming the odds and a hot mess or two. It is the most fun part of the season.
It’s the fish out of water element that fans love most about “Dancing With The Stars” especially when combined with a comeback story. DWTS has launched and re-launched careers: Candance Cameron Bure, Kelly Osborne, and Kirstie Alley credit the show for their current success. Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is still introduced as “Dancing With The Stars” champion before his racing is mentioned. Season 17 winner Amber Riley proved you don’t have to be stick thin to win. Season 18 competitor Amy Purdy proved you don’t have to hold the Mirror Ball Trophy at the end to be a winner.
CDN has a great track record predicting the winners. We got the top four dead right in Season 16, and called the winner in Season 15, 17 and 18. But admittedly, we were a little off with our top group in Season 18. Who knew Charlie White and Danica McKellar would be out so fast, while Candace Cameron Bure pulled a Bill Engvall, staying in week after week? Still, If you’re a betting person, keep our list handy.
We fearlessly make our predictions in our traditional three categories: The Also-Rans, The Jury Is Out, The Contenders.
The Season 19 competitors are Randy Couture and Karina Smirnoff; Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas; Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke; Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy; Betsey Johnson and Tony Dovoloni; Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd; Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker; Lolo Jones and Keo Matsepe; Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev, Bethany Mota and Derek Hough; Tavis Smiley and Sharna Burgess; Alfonso Ribiero and Witney Carson; and Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater.
The DWTS Also-Rans: Tommy Chong, Betsy Johnson, Randy Couture, Tavis Smiley
It’s pretty tough to give the two 70-somethings in this category any chance. Tommy Chong is 76, and has spent more time as an activist over the past few decades than as a performer. But he seems to have the right attitude for the show, and partner Peta Murgatroyd is an oddly good fit for Chong. But it’s likely he is the Billy Dee Williams of Season 19.
If any 70-something has a shot at sticking around a few weeks, it’s fashion designer Betsey Johnson, who is infamous for her cartwheels and splits at her runway shows. She’s a goofy good time. But when she gets to the more serious ballroom dance styles it will be hard to see past the Raggedy Ann doll on acid persona. We want the DWTS producers to let Johnson run the costume department for one week and dress all the competitors. Pretty please?
Tavis Smiley might be better than the bride’s father dancing with her at her wedding, but perhaps not a whole lot more. He’ll enjoy himself and pro Sharna Burgess will do what she can. But expectations are low, and fans of his radio and TV talk shows aren’t a built-in fan base who will prop him up for a few weeks with votes. They may be a little too “highbrow” for this pop culture stuff.
Randy Couture and pro Karina Smirnoff will be an impressive looking couple, until they start moving. Combat sports competitors have been a big disappointment on the show to date. They aren’t used to refined movement, it’s all about strength and power. Their fans aren’t watching ballroom dancing since there are no takedowns involved. If you’re a fan of The Natural, enjoy him while you can.
The DWTS Jury Is Out: Michael Waltrip, Lolo Jones, Alfonso Ribiero, Bethany Mota, Jonathan Bennett
Among all the celebrities on Season 19, Alfonso Ribiero generated the most response from DWTS fans. Beloved for his role as Carlton on the TV series “Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” Ribero will have a lot of people rooting for him. He was a tap dancer as a kid and has performed on Broadway. But it was all decades ago. His age (42) is working against him, and while Witney Carson did a super job with Drew Carey last season, she’s still new as a DWTS pro. If the partnership works and Ribiero’s fans keep him on the show long enough to improve, he could stick around.
Actor Jonathan Bennett has a compelling personal story. His father Dr. David Bennett, died in April of brain cancer. Bennett told his hometown newspaper The Toledo Blade that the only TV show his father wanted to watch while he was in hospice care was “Dancing With The Stars,” because “it made him feel good.” So Bennett is dancing in honor of his father, and his mother who also died in the past year. He is best known for his role in the 2004 film “Mean Girls.” Paired with Allison Holker, a former competitor on “So You Think You Can Dance,” if their story catches fire and he’s any good, he could be a pleasant surprise.
NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip has an athlete’s competitive edge and work ethic and he won’t take himself too seriously. Waltrip and pro partner Emma Slater are sure to show fans a good time. But it’s a little early to say whether he’ll be as successful as his Indy car counterpart Helio Castroneves who won Season 4. Waltrip is also one of the older competitors at 51 and it’s a long grueling season. If he holds up physically, he could be a surprise.
It’s hard to bet against an Olympian, and Lolo Jones has the will to win. She’ll look smashing in her costumes, and she’s dancing with a new pro sure to turn fan heads, Keo Motsepe. Several factors need to come together for Jones to succeed. Motsepe needs to be a good coach and teacher; Jones needs to be able to emote and perform without being self-conscious; and both need to get some fans on their side as they don’t have the established fan base of other competitors.
Bethany Mota is a complete wild card. She never sees the millions of fans who follow her on YouTube. Without any experience on stage in front of a live crowd, she may find it intimidating. But she is only 18, and might not have a nervous bone in her body. She’s also got the show’s secret weapon: her partner is Emmy award winning dancer/choreographer Derek Hough, who is nothing short of genius as a teacher and partner. Mota will have a lot of her YouTube fans voting for her and Hough has a huge following, too.
The DWTS Contenders: Janel Parrish, Antonio Sabato Jr., Sadie Robertson, Lea Thompson
If you are a cute young actress and singer on a popular TV series on an ABC network, you’ve got a head start on the competition. If you get to dance with one of the most popular pros with fans who get out the vote, that’s another plus. Add dance training? Ringer City. Janel Parrish’s fellow competitors are already pointing at her as one to beat, and there isn’t any reason to disagree.
Another ABC alumni is soap star and Calkin Klein model Antonio Sabato Jr. The Latin Lover personalites who have danced with Cheryl Burke over the years have an outstanding track record: Christian De La Rosa, Gilles Marini, and William Levy. Sabato starred in “General Hospital” in the 1990s. His fans then are DWTS fans now. A guy who modeled underwear for a living has a lot of confidence. If he has even the slightest dance skills, he could go a long way.
Lea Thompson remains well-loved by fans for her role on in the “Back to the Future” movies and her series “Caroline in the City.” Those fans are the age that watches DWTS is droves, and they will vote for her. Thompson does have ballet training although it was 30 years ago. She has drawn a popular new pro who has been a member of the troupe for years, Artem Chigvintsev. Chigvintsev is part of the Val/Maks/Tony “family” and their fans will be solidly behind him. This pair is a sure thing for the finals.
Sadie Robertson has youthful energy on her side, the youngest competitor at age 17. Her “Duck Dynasty” ties will generate a lot of votes. She will dance with pro Mark Ballas, who has a significant fan base. Early rehearsal video shows that Robertson has a good attitude and seems able to shake her hips and get sassy. Without any obvious ringers except Parrish, Robertson could be another Zendaya.
The Communities disco ball is polished to a fine shine, ready for our first live chat of Season 19 on Monday, September 15 at 8 p.m. How will the fresh new competitors react when they are hit with the bright light from the disco ball? Who storms out on to the floor with confidence, and who needs more rehearsal time?
“Dancing With the Stars” debuts Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time on the ABC Television Network. Dress in your finest ball room attire, get those dancing shoes on and join Communities Digital News and Gayle Falkenthal for tonight’s first of the season chat!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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