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Dancing With The Stars Season 21: preview and predictions

Written By | Sep 12, 2015

SAN DIEGO, September 12, 2015 – “Dancing With the Stars” launches Season 21 with a brand new cast of competitors including a celebrity chef, R&B superstar, Internet star, former boy band heartthrob, and the first jockey to win the Triple Crown in three decades among the lineup.

No matter the mix of stars and returning pros, fans can always count on a dramatic 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.

DWTS has launched and re-launched too many careers to count: 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. Competitors Amy Purdy and Noah Galloway 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 called it for Rumer Willis last season. But we love the surprises most of all. Who would have thought Tommy Chong would dazzle the fans week after week including one of the best Tango routines ever seen, and nearly making it to the finals?

Our pre-season predictions return in our traditional three categories: The Also-Rans, The Jury Is Out, The Contenders.

Chaka Khan gets a little DWTS advice from her fellow diva and competitor Patti LaBelle. Photo: ABC

Chaka Khan gets a little DWTS advice from her fellow diva and competitor Patti LaBelle. Photo: ABC

The DWTS Also-Rans: Paula Deen, Kim Zolciak Biermann, Victor Espinoza, and Chaka Khan

Divas never fare too well on the show, so it’s likely Chaka Khan will survive weeks 1 and 2, but not much more. Same story with the Housewives: neither Lisa Vanderpump or NeNe Leakes distinguised themselves, and Kim Zolciak Biermann will make it three for three. Jockey Victor Espinoza is a terrific athlete but he’s used to someone else providing the fancy footwork.

Paula Deen is a longtime fan of the show and she’s already lost a great deal of weight just to get on the show, but she isn’t likely to find the winning recipe on this show.

Last season's teen competitor Willow Shields offers a little advice to this year's teen on the show, Hayes Riley, with partner Emma Slater. Photo: ABC

Last season’s teen competitor Willow Shields offers a little advice to this year’s teen on the show, Hayes Grier, with partner Emma Slater. Photo: ABC

The DWTS Jury Is Out: Alek Skarlatos, Gary Busey, Andy Grammer, Hayes Grier, Tamar Braxton

This group is a wild grab bag, starting with Alek Skarlatos. A few weeks ago he was a guy minding his own business on a train in France until someone showed up with a gun. Now he’s an American hero and the Army National Guardsman is on DWTS. We all know zero about him but he’s bound to be better than most of the Bachelors who have been on the show.

Singer Andy Grammer will probably be better than Michael Bolton, but maybe not much better than Gavin DeGraw. Singer Tamar Braxton would seem to have a lot more potential, but when her sister Toni competed in Season 7, she was eliminated right in the middle of the pack. Cloris Leachman stayed on the show longer than Toni. Hayes Grier is the second online celebrity on the show, but it’s hard imagining a 15 year old boy getting very far.

I don’t think for a second Gary Busey will turn out to be a swell dancer, but fan votes will probably keep him on the show longer than his dancing skills. Think Andy Dick with more mileage and more crazy.

Things might get wild this season on Dancing With the Stars. Bindi Irwin and her friend meet Val Chmerkovsky and Derek Hough. Photo: ABC

Things might get wild this season on Dancing With the Stars. Bindi Irwin and her friend meet Val Chmerkovsky and Derek Hough. Photo: ABC

The DWTS Contenders: Bindi Irwin, Nick Carter, Carlos PenaVega, Alexa PenaVega

DWTS has its first married couple competing against each other. Carlos and Alexa PenaVega are multi-talented: they act, they sing, and they have musical theatre experience. They’ve performed on TV and on tour. It would be a shock if they don’t make it into the final group, and one or the other could be a Season 21 winner.

Adorable teenage reality TV stars have a super track record on DTWS. And you can never bet against any competitor lucky enough to draw Derek Hough as a partner. Bindi Irwin has the formula for success and she should be still be competing the final week of the show.

But it’s hard to bet against a Backstreet Boy. Nick Carter has all the skills to do well, and a whole lot of fans who will vote, vote vote for him week after week. The formula worked for Carter’s boy band buddy Joey Fatone didn’t do so bad, placing second in Season 4.

Three months from now, don’t be surprised to see Nick and his pro partner Sharna Burgess vying against Derek and Bindi for the Mirror Ball Trophy in the finals. You read it here first.

Our Communities disco ball is nice and shiny in its spot above the virtual ballroom floor, ready for our first live chat of Season 21 on Monday, March 16 at 8 p.m. How will the fresh new competitors react when they are hit with the bright lights and the music? Who storms out on to the floor with confidence, and who needs more rehearsal time?

“Dancing With the Stars” debuts Monday, September 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time on the ABC Television Network.

Competitors in Alphabetical Order

Alek Skarlators and Lindsay Arnold: Foxtrot. “Ten Feet Tall” by Afrojack feat. Wrabel

Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas: TBA, “Whistle (While You Work It)” by Katy Tiz

Andy Grammer and Allison Holker: Foxtrot, “Marvin Gaye” by Charlie Puth feat. Meghan Trainor

Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: Jive, “Crocodile Rock” by Elton John

Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson: TBA, “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown

Chaka Khan and Keo Motsepe: Cha Cha Cha, “I Feel for You” by Chaka Khan

Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya: Cha Cha Cha. “Dancing in the Street” by Davie Bowie & Mick Jagger

Hayes Riley and Emma Slater: TBA, “Cheerleader” by Omi

Kim Zolciak Biermann and Tony Dovoloni: TBA, “Hey Mama” by David Guetta feat. Afrojack, Nicki Minaj, & Bebe Rexha

Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: Cha Cha Cha, “I Don’t Like It, I Love It” by Flo Rida feat. Robin Thicke

Paula Deen and Louis Van Amstel: Quickstep. “Hey Good Lookin’” by Carol Welsman

Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovski: Quickstep,“Do Your Thing” by Basement Jaxx

Victor Espinoza and Karina Smirnoff: Salsa, “G.D.F.R.” by Flo Rida

Las Vegas oddsmakers mostly agree with us.

Voting information: Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite couples via phone on Monday nights during the show and up to one hour after the end of the DWTS broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at and on Facebook at is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and closing at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on Tuesday evenings.

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 +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  


Copyright © 2015 by Falcon Valley Group

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award-winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.