What would “Dancing With the Stars” be like if the celebrity dancers weren’t novices?
The answer begins Monday, Sept. 24, when ABC debuts the show’s 15th season as an “All-Stars” edition with returning contestants. The cast includes several past winners of the competition: Kelly Monaco, Drew Lachey, Emmitt Smith, Helio Castroneves, Apolo Anton Ohno and Shawn Johnson. Also back for another round are Joey Fatone, Gilles Marini, Melissa Rycroft, Pamela Anderson, Kirstie Alley, Bristol Palin and (chosen by fans) Sabrina Bryan.
Emmy-winning “Dancing” host Tom Bergeron tells Zap2it the situation “a target-rich environment. The nice thing about it is most every other season, I had to be a bit more tentative with the stars, because they were just learning and they were nervous and they were sort of finding their way. All these guys know how to do it, so I don’t have to be as nice.”
The perpetually nice Bergeron is joking, of course, adding that he expects “an element of camaraderie that I think will be evident right out of the gate.” So does returnee Lachey, who acknowledges that his first “Dancing” stint during Season 2 “was six years ago, so I almost have something to prove. The competition has stepped up every season since then. I want to see how I stack up against the best from every other season.”
Executive producer Conrad Green foresees “an intensely competitive season in terms of dance ability, but I think it also will be a very warm season. All the people were such beloved characters on their own seasons, I think the idea is that while there’s competition, there’s friendly competition on this show. That’s what it’s about, and I think this cast really reflects that.”
Before becoming Bergeron’s co-host, Brooke Burke Charvet won Season 7 of “Dancing With the Stars.” From experience, she says the “All-Stars” contest is “a second chance” for the rivals, “knowing so much more now than you knew back then. We’re never going to see another competition at this level. I think this is amazing.”