An all new cast of celebrities hits the dance floor on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” with the highly anticipated two-hour season premiere MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2009 (8:00-10:02 p.m., ET) on ABC. Season Eight introduces us to 13 new stars including the youngest competitor to date, an NFL legend, a computer icon, a female rapper, three music artists, and a “Wildboy.” Additionally, “love is a battlefield,” when for the first time three real life couples take the ballroom floor. Husband and wife, Ty Murray and Jewel, compete for bragging rights while newly engaged professional dancers, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff, go head-to-head. To top it off, country crooner, Chuck Wicks teams with girlfriend and two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champ, Julianne Hough.
Following is the schedule for season eight (dates and times subject to change):
* “Dancing with the Stars,” two-hour performance show, MONDAYS beginning, MARCH 9 (8:00-10:02 p.m., ET) through MARCH 30
* “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show,” one-hour, TUESDAYS beginning, MARCH 17 (9:00 – 10:02 p.m., ET) through MAY 12
* “Dancing with the Stars,” ninety-minute performance show, MONDAYS, beginning APRIL 6, (8:00-9:32 p.m., ET) through MAY 11
* “Dancing with the Stars,” one-hour performance show, MONDAY, MAY 18 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET)
* Season Finale, TUESDAY, MAY19 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET)
“Dancing with the Stars” returns with new surprises and all the elements viewers have come to know and love including the Kids Ballroom competition. “Macy’s Stars of Dance,” which features some of the most renowned dancers and choreographers of our time will also be back on “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show” along with its hugely popular “Design a Dance” competition. “Design a Dance” is sponsored by Macy’s and made its debut last season. In addition, couples will once again take part in a team dance, group dance and face off as well as perform the Argentine Tango and East Coast Swing; a first in the series. And in an exciting new twist, the bottom two couples facing elimination will “Dance Off” to determine who is dismissed in the first weeks of competition.
As announced this evening on ABC’s “All Night Name Drop,” in alphabetical order, the 13 stars making their ballroom dancing debut are:
BELINDA CARLISLE – Belinda Carlisle is not only known as the lead singer of the Go-Go’s, the most successful all-female band of all time, but also as one of the late 80’s most glamorous adult pop soloists. The Go-Gos’ 1981 multi-platinum hit debut, “Beauty and the Beat,” spawned mega hits “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got the Beat” and made the Go-Go’s the first all-female band (who wrote their own music and played their own instruments) to achieve a #1 album. The following years saw continued success for the girls with hits “Vacation,” “Head Over Heels,” and “Turn To You.” Belinda led off her solo career with the gold debut “Belinda,” and followed with huge mainstream hits “Mad About You,” “Heaven Is A Place On Earth” and “I Get Weak,” to name a few. Since then, Belinda has released 5 more albums, including 2007’s French pop collection, “Voila,” and continues to tour internationally, both with her Go-Go’s sisters and as a solo artist.
DAVID ALAN GRIER — Grier is often recognized for his work in television and film – in TV he is known from roles in “In Living Color,” “Life with Bonnie” with Bonnie Hunt, “DAG,” and most recently, “Chocolate News” for Comedy Central. In the feature film world, Grier has played memorable characters in numerous feature film roles, including “Baadassss!”, “The Woodsman” opposite Kevin Bacon and Mos Def, “15 Minutes,” “Boomerang,” “Bewitched,” Jumanji,” and Robert Altman’s “Streamers.” A multi-talented and Yale School of Drama trained actor, Grier began his professional career on Broadway as Jackie Robinson in “The First,” for which he earned a Tony nomination. He then joined the cast of “Dreamgirls,” went on to star opposite Denzel Washington in “A Soldier’s Play;” both actors continued their roles in the film version, “A Soldier’s Story.”
JEWEL — She grew up on a remote ranch in Alaska where her family were original pioneers. From poverty and teen homelessness, to the triumph of international stardom, the three-time Grammy nominee has enjoyed career longevity rare among her generation of artists and has sold twenty-seven million albums worldwide. Her debut album Pieces of You, became one of the best selling debut albums of all time, going platinum twelve times. Last year, singer/songwriter Jewel released her first country record Perfectly Clear which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. In May 2009, she will release an album of original and traditional lullabies. Jewel lives on a working ranch in Stephenville, Texas with her husband, World Champion bull-riding superstar, Ty Murray.
SHAWN JOHNSON – The youngest ever competitor on “Dancing with the Stars,” 17 year-old Olympian Shawn Johnson was the gold medalist in balance beam at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing where she also earned 3 silver medals in the team, floor exercise and individual all-around categories. The current two-time National Champion and high-school Junior Johnson appeared on a limited edition Cheerios box in early 2009, led the pledge of allegiance at last year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, was a headliner of last fall’s Tour of Gymnastics Superstars and was named Choice Female Athlete at the 2008 Teen Choice Awards. Her debut biography Shawn Johnson: Olympic Champion: Stories Behind the Smile was released in December.
LIL’ KIM – Born Kimberly Denise Jones, Lil’ Kim, is a Grammy Award winning multi-platinum rapper, singer, actress, and fashion icon. She is one of three female rappers to have a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit with 2001’s Lady Marmalade, featuring Christina Aguilera, Pink, & M_a. As an actress, she appeared on television shows such as “Moesha” and “The Game,” and on her own reality series “Countdown to Lockdown,” which has the hightest-rated premiere in BET’s history. On film, she has appeared in “Zoolander,” “She’s All That,” “Juwanna Man,” and “You Got Served.” She is currently working on her 5th studio album is expected to be released in 2009.
GILLES MARINI — Gilles Marini exploded onto the scene as Dante, the Casanova living in the beach house next door to Kim Cattrall’s Samantha in the “Sex and the City” movie, a role which has earned him international recognition. Born and raised in France, Gilles joined the French army and was stationed in Paris, where he acted as a fireman for the famous Brigade des Sapeurs Pompiers de Paris. After fulfilling his military duties, Gilles decided to go to the United States to learn English while working as a model. Gilles, who has appeared in series such as “Ugly Betty,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” and “Criminal Minds,” will next be seen as Vanessa Redgrave’s husband on FX’s “Nip/Tuck.” Gilles currently resides in California with his wife Carole, son Georges, and daughter Juliana.
TY MURRAY — Ty Murray has been labeled the most accomplished rodeo athlete in the century-long history of the sport. With a record-setting seven All-Around World Championship titles and two bull riding world titles under his belt, Murray has truly earned his nickname as “King of the Cowboys.” Now retired from competition, Murray spends his time with his singer-songwriter wife, Jewel, on their 2,100-acre private ranch in Stephenville, Texas. Murray may have retired in the arena but he hasn’t slowed down as a cowboy. In 2004, Murray helped shepherd National Day of the Horse unanimously through the U.S. Senate, encouraging Americans “to be mindful of the contribution of horses to economy, history and character of the United States.” He runs his working cattle ranch and trains horses throughout the year. Additionally, he remains active with the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR), an organization he and 19 other elite bull riders founded in 1992. Murray serves as a board advisor, promotes a top level bull riding event in his hometown, and provides TV commentary for PBR events on NBC and VERSUS.
STEVE-O — Determined to build a career in television and film, Steve-O, a.k.a. Stephen Glover, sent his self-produced videos to anyone he thought might watch them including Jeff Tremiane (MTV’s “Jackass” creator/director/producer). Steve-O wrote himself a “mile of work” to do for Tremaine and “Jackass.” When MTV rejected his more dangerous ideas, Steve-O produced his own “too hot for TV” video series and stage show with the “Don’t Try This At Home Tour”. Steve-O also starred in his own show for MTV – “Wildboyz.”
NANCY O’DELL – The co-Anchor of Access Hollywood, O’Dell has contributed reports to NBC’s Today Show and Dateline NBC. Beyond covering events such as The Oscars, The Emmys, The Grammys and The Golden Globe Awards, O’Dell has been chosen by NBC for the last eight years to host two of their big annual network broadcasts, The Golden Globes Arrivals Special and The Tournament of Roses Parade. Not only is O’Dell one of the country’s most respected and leading entertainment journalists, she has also appeared in numerous films including: Thank You For Smoking, Scream 2, Scream 3, Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat, and television series: 30 Rock, Project Runway, Charmed, Joey, Third Watch, Beverly Hills, 90210, Days of Our Lives, Melrose Place, General Hospital, Just Shoot Me and Ally McBeal among others. Although O’Dell maintains a busy work schedule, she regularly makes time for philanthropic endeavors. The Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Red Cross, the March of Dimes, Best Buddies, Best Buddies, and Childhelp USA have all benefited from her time and efforts. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband Keith, their daughter, Ashby, and two stepsons, Tyler and Carson.
DENISE RICHARDS — Known for her roles in films such as “Wild Things” and “Starship Troopers,” Denise Richards got her start as a fashion model before making her way into television and movies. She was cast as Bond girl and geo-physicist “Christmas Jones” in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough as well as appearing in films such as “Drop Dead Gorgeous,” “Undercover Brother,” and :Scary Movie 3.” In addition to her film work, Richards has made regular appearances in comedies Spin City, Two and a Half Men, Friends and Seinfeld. She is currently working on her second season of her own reality television show, Denise Richards: It’s Complicated airing on E! Entertainment Television.
LAWRENCE TAYLOR – Widely regarded as the greatest defensive player in the history of the National Football League, Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor rewrote the record book and built a legendary following during one of the most storied careers in the history of American sport. Taylor spent his entire career with the New York Giants, leading them to two Super Bowl titles. Taylor was the first player in the history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in ten consecutive seasons. He was also an unanimous selection to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary team, which honored the top players in the history of the game, was the NFL’s Rookie of the Year in 1981, Most Valuable Player in 1986 and was the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. LAWRENCE was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1999. “LT” has written two best selling books (“Living on the Edge” and “Over The Edge”), has appeared in feature films (including “Any Given Sunday,” “The Waterboy” and “Shaft”) and is an avid golfer and philanthropist.
CHUCK WICKS – A gifted songwriter and vocalist, Chuck Wicks made a compelling impression with his Top 5 smash, “Stealing Cinderella,” the fastest-rising single by a debut country act in 2007. By the time his first album, Starting Now (RCA Nashville), was released in January 2008, he had begun a year-long 750,000 fan-packed tour opening for superstar Brad Paisley. Chuck Wicks co-penned 10 of the 11 songs on his debut CD, including his 2nd hit, “All I Ever Wanted,” and the new single, “Man of the House,” a touching story-song about a boy taking on beyond-his-years responsibilities as his father is on military assignment. For more information, please go to: www.chuckwicks.com or www.myspace.com/chuckwicks.
STEVE WOZNIAK — A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for the past three decades, Steve Wozniak, a.k.a. “The Woz,” helped shape the computer industry with his design of Apple’s first line of products, the Apple I and II, and influenced the popular Macintosh. After leaving Apple Computer Inc. in 1985, Wozniak was involved in various business and philanthropic ventures, focusing primarily on computer capabilities in schools and stressing hands-on learning and encouraging creativity for students. In 2000, he was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment. Wozniak is also a published author with the release of his New York Times Best Selling autobiography, iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon, in September 2006.
Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday night during and up to 30 minutes after the “Dancing with the Stars” performance shows. AT&T subscribers may also text message their votes by texting the word “VOTE” and entering the number that corresponds to the team they want to support (standard text message rates apply). Viewers may also vote online at www.abc.com starting from the opening of each episode on the East Coast and until 12:00 Noon, ET the following day.
Hosted by Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Samantha Harris (“E! Entertainment”), the celebrities will perform choreographed dance routines which will be judged by renowned Ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
“Dancing with the Stars” is the U.S. version of the international smash hit series, “Strictly Come Dancing.” This version is produced by BBC Worldwide Americas. Conrad Green serves as executive producer and Rob Wade and Matilda Zoltowski are co-executive producers. Alex Rudzinski directs. “Dancing with the Stars” is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound and Spanish audio via SAP.