Mr. T, Viall among Stars of new Dancing season


It's hard to believe, but Dancing With the Stars returns with Season 24 at 7 p.m. Monday on ABC. It will be the series' 400th episode.

The series, adapted from the British show Strictly Come Dancing, debuted June 1, 2005, with affable Tom Bergeron as host. It has been a top-10 favorite ever since, even though the format and celebrity lineup has gotten familiar in recent years with the potential winner easier to predict.

The show's highest ranking was No. 3 in seasons 6 through 12, with the most viewers topping out at just under 22 million.

Last season, DWTS earned a No. 8 ranking with 13.4 million viewers -- still strong by today's splintered-audience standards.

Whom do we have in the celebrity lineup this time? There are a couple of aging has-beens (bones tossed to the baby boomers at home), the usual jocks, reality show "stars," actors and two Olympic stars -- one old (figure skater Nancy Kerrigan) and one new (gymnast Simone Biles).

There also seems to be a ringer this year in former Glee star Heather Morris. Although she's best known for playing the ditzy Brittany on the Fox musical series, Morris was hired on that show for her dancing and choreography skills, not her singing.

You read it here first: The battle for the mirror ball trophy will come down to Morris vs. Biles.

Here's a quick look at this season's stars, with their professional partners in parentheses.

Bonner Bolton, 29, (Sharna Burgess). Bolton is a professional bull rider and model who once broke his neck falling off a bull and was given a 1 percent chance of ever walking again.

Charo, 65, (Keo Motsepe). The Spanish singer/actress was a ubiquitous presence on every variety show in the 1970s ("Cuchi-cuchi!"). By the '80s, she faded from view. Trivia: Her full name is Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza.

Chris Kattan, 46, (Witney Carson). The actor/comedian is best known for his seven years on Saturday Night Live (1996-2003) and his 1998 head-bobbing movie, A Night at the Roxbury, with Will Farrell.

David Ross, 39, (Lindsay Arnold). The retired major league catcher has been on the winning team in the World Series twice, with the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and the Chicago Cubs in 2016.

Erika Jayne, 45, (Gleb Savchenko). The reality TV star/singer is best known for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Heather Morris, 30, (Maksim Chmerkovskiy). DWTS never wastes one of its star pro dancers with unpronounceable names (such as Chmerkovskiy) on a celebrity who is likely to leave early. Morris should be still standing in the final two. A onetime backup dancer for Beyonce, Morris has been dancing since the age of 9.

Asked by Entertainment Weekly if she thought her professional dance background gave her an advantage, the mother of two said, "I don't think so at all! I think the competition is completely fair. There's a gold medal gymnast! Come on!"

By the way, Maks pronounces it MAX-im schmir-COUGH-ski. Or chuh-mare-COUGH-ski. Or maybe shermun-COFF-ski. I've heard it all ways.

Mr. T, 64, (Kym Herjavec). Known for his gold chains, Mandinka warrior hairstyle and signature catchphrase, "I pity the fool," tough guy Mr. T (real name Lawrence Tureaud) got his big break playing boxer Clubber Lang in Rocky III.

Nancy Kerrigan, 47, (Artem Chigvintsev). Despite winning a figure skating silver medal in the 1994 Winter Olympics, Kerrigan is best remembered for being whacked in the knee in an attack planned by rival Tonya Harding's ex-husband and a co-conspirator.

All together: "Why, why, why?"

Nick Viall, 36, (Peta Murgatroyd). The obviously addicted reality TV star -- The Bachelorette (twice), Bachelor in Paradise, The Bachelor -- just can't go back to actual reality and get a real job.

Normani Kordei, 20, (Val Chmerkovskiy). Who? Kordei is a singer and member of Fifth Harmony, a girl group formed in Season 2 of The X Factor.

Rashad Jennings, 31, (Emma Slater). The pro football running back (Jaguars, Raiders, Giants) was released by the Giants last month and is now a free agent with time to dance.

Simone Biles, 19, (Sasha Farber) The perky and personable 4-foot-8 gold medal Olympic gymnast has won a combined 19 Olympic and World Championship medals, making her the most decorated American gymnast ever.

Will Season 24 be a gymnastic repeat? Biles' Olympic teammate, 16-year-old Laurie Hernandez, won DWTS last season, but Biles has to dance her way past Morris this year.

Programming note. Season 2 of Into the Badlands premieres at 9 p.m. today on AMC. Warning: The 10 episodes are more sanguinary than ever. TV-MA.

The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:


Style on 03/19/2017

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