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, MARCH 9 (8:00-10:02 p.m., ET) through MARCH 30
* “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show,” one-hour, TUESDAYS, MARCH 17 (9:00-10:02 p.m., ET) through MAY 12
* “Dancing with the Stars,” 90-minute performance show, MONDAYS, 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, MAY 19 (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.” One of the Macy’s Stars of Dance performances will be the hugely popular “Design-A-Dance” which 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; 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.
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 ’80s’ most glamorous adult pop soloists. The Go-Go’s’ 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 No. 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.” Since then she has released five more albums, including 2007’s French pop collection, “Voilà,” and continues to tour internationally, both with her Go-Go’s sisters and as a solo artist. She teams with Jonathan Roberts, who returns for his sixth season.
DAVID ALAN GRIER — David Alan Grier is recognized for his work in television and film – in TV he’s 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 world he has played memorable characters in numerous films, 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, David 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,” and 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.” Davis is paired with Kym Johnson, who returns for her sixth season.
JEWEL — She grew up on a remote ranch in Alaska, where her family were 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 27 million albums worldwide. Her debut album, “Pieces of You,” became one of the best selling debut albums of all time, going platinum 12 times. Last year the singer/songwriter released her first country record, “Perfectly Clear,” which debuted at No. 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. She teams with 2006 U.S. National finalist Dmitry Chaplin, who makes his “Dancing with the Stars” debut.
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 three silver medals in the team, floor exercise and individual all-around categories. The current two-time National Champion and high-school junior, Shawn 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. She teams up with former “Dancing with the Stars” champ Mark Ballas, who returns for his fourth season.
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 No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit with 2001’s “Lady Marmalade,” featuring Christina Aguilera, Pink and 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 had the highest-rated premiere in BET’s history. On film she has appeared in “Zoolander,” “She’s All That,” “Juwanna Man” and “You Got Served.” She’s currently working on her fifth studio album, expected to be released in 2009. Lil’ Kim teams with reigning champ Derek Hough, who returns for his fourth season.
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 served as a fireman for the famous Brigade des Sapeurs Pompiers de Paris. After fulfilling his military duties, he decided to come 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.” He currently resides in California with his wife, Carole, son Georges and daughter Juliana. He teams up with two-time champion Cheryl Burke. Cheryl returns for her seventh season.
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, he has truly earned his nickname as “King of the Cowboys.” Now retired from competition, Ty spends his time with his singer-songwriter wife, Jewel, on their 2,100-acre private ranch in Stephenville, Texas. He may have retired from the arena, but Ty hasn’t slowed down as a cowboy. In 2004 he helped shepherd National Day of the Horse through the U.S. Senate, encouraging Americans “to be mindful of the contribution of horses to the 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. Ty 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. He joins 10 Dance Youth National champion Chelsie Hightower, who makes her series debut.
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 Tremaine (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, he 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.” 2006 U.S. Youth Latin champ and 2007 World Swing Dance champ Lacey Schwimmer returns for her second season to team with Steve-O.
NANCY O’DELL — The co-anchor of “Access Hollywood,” Nancy 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, Nancy 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 she 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 the 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. Nancy is also an author; her new book, “Full of Life: Mom to Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I was Pregnant,” for publisher Simon Spotlight Entertainment, will be in stores April 14, 2009. Although she maintains a busy work schedule, Nancy regularly makes time for philanthropic endeavors. The Muscular Dystrophy Association, American Red Cross, March of Dimes, 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. She teams with Tony Dovolani, who returns for his seventh season.
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, Denise has made regular appearances in the comedies “Spin City,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Friends” and “Seinfeld.” She is currently working on the second season of her own reality television show, “Denise Richards: It’s Complicated,” airing on E! Entertainment Television. She teams with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who returns for his sixth season.
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. He spent his entire career with the New York Giants, leading them to two Super Bowl titles. He was the first player in history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in ten consecutive seasons. He was also a 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 bestselling 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. He teams with Edyta Sliwinska, who is the only pro to compete in all eight seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.”
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 co-penned 10 of the 11 songs on his debut CD, including his second 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 while his father is on military assignment. For more information, please go to: www.chuckwicks.com or www.myspace.com/chuckwicks. Chuck teams with girlfriend and two-time champ Julianne Hough, who returns for her fifth season.
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, he 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 Steve was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment. He is also a published author with the release in 2006 of his New York Times best-selling autobiography, “iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon.” He teams with Karina Smirnoff, who returns for her sixth season.
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 (“The Insider”), 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 Productions. 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.