This season’s cast of celebrity dancers includes a fashion icon, a YouTube sensation, a NASCAR legend, and a movie star, to name a few. The stars will grace the ballroom floor for the first time on live national television with their professional partners during the two-hour season premiere of Dancing with the Stars, which airs MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. One couple will be eliminated on the Dancing with the Stars results show the following day, on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET).
Pro Derek Hough talks about what it's going to be like being judged every week by his sister, Julianne
The thirteen professional dancers teaching the celebrity cast how to bring heat to the dance floor are Mark Ballas, Cheryl Burke, Sharna Burgess, Witney Carson, Artem Chigvintsev, Valentin Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani, Allison Holker, Derek Hough, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Emma Slater and Karina Smirnoff. Two-time Mirrorball champion and movie star Julianne Hough joins Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba at the judges’ desk.
As announced this morning on ABC’s “Good Morning America” by “Dancing with the Stars” hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, the 13 celebrities with their professional partners heading to the dance floor this season (in alphabetical order) are:
JONATHAN BENNETT -- Though his striking good looks may have made Jonathan Bennett an object of affection for the ‘plastics’ in “Mean Girls,” his talent and commitment are what have led him to become one of the most sought after young actors in Hollywood. Bennett’s first foray into feature films was in Paramount’s smash hit “Mean Girls” from producer Lorne Michaels and writer Tina Fey, in which he starred opposite Lindsay Lohan. In the romantic comedy “Lovewrecked” for the Weinstein Co., Bennett transitioned into the love interest of Amanda Bynes. He has since starred as Bo Duke in Warner Bros. prequel to “The Dukes of Hazard,” the comedy romp “Bachelor Party Vegas,” in Fox’s sequel to the hit comedy “Cheaper by the Dozen,” as Steve Martin’s antagonistic son-in-law, and as the title role in“National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: Freshman Year.”
More recently, Bennett executive produced and starred in the film “Authors Anonymous” opposite Kaley Cuoco. He continues to wear his producing hat, as well as carry a supporting role in the feature “Pawn” with Ray Liotta and Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker. More recently, Bennett wrapped the dramatic thriller “Submerged,” the comedy “Do Over,” the crime thriller “Paid in Full,” and the Lifetime telefilm “Romantically Speaking” opposite “Glee” star Heather Morris. Originally from Ohio, Bennett currently resides in Los Angeles where he continues to hone his craft. JONATHAN BENNETT partners with new “Dancing with the Stars” pro ALLISON HOLKER.
TOMMY CHONG -- Grammy Award-winning comedian Tommy Chong is legendary for his invaluable contribution to comedy and American counter culture as part of the legendary comedy team Cheech & Chong. During their reign, the twosome recorded six gold comedy albums, including the 1974 Grammy winner “Los Cochinos,” and starred in seven films, most of which Chong co-wrote and directed. After “Up In Smoke,”Cheech and Chongstarred in a string of successful films that remain hugely popular via the rental market. The duo are together again for their third tour since reuniting – the “Up in Smoke Tour,” with select shows with legendary musical group WAR. Tommy also recently just shot the indie film “It’s Gawd!,” scheduled for release later this year.
Chong wrote the book The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint that went on to become a New York Times bestseller. The book chronicles Chong’s arrest for shipping bongs across the country, his days in jail, and the humorous encounters of his 9-month prison stint. The film “I Chong” is a unique chronicle of one man’s life and how his humorous and spiritual point of view saved him during his wrongful incarceration at the hands of an administration without boundaries. The film has won awards such as: Jury Award, Best Documentary -- US Comedy Arts Festival, Audience Award, Best Documentary -- SF Independent Film Festival and was an official selection for the Toronto International Film Festival. TOMMY CHONG partners with PETA MURGATROYD.
RANDY COUTURE -- As a 6-time World Champion and Hall of Famer in the fastest growing sport in the world, Randy Couture is a true icon in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In addition to his stellar standing in combat sports, Randy is also a successful businessman, best-selling author and action movie star. Randy’s growing career in acting includes the hit films “The Expendables” and “The Expendables 2,” opposite Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis, and he reprised his role as Toll Road in “The Expendables 3.” On the television front, as a part of his multi-year talent, development and production deal with Spike TV, Randy served as a coach on the first season of “Fight Master: Bellator MMA” in summer 2013 and Spike’s new reality show “Gym Rescue,” for which he also serves as an executive producer.
Born in Lynnwood, Washington in 1963, Randy served 6 years in the U.S. Army attaining the rank of Sergeant in the 101st Airborne. Having completed his service, Randy became a three-time Olympic team alternate (1988, 1992 and 1996), a semifinalist at the 2000 Olympic Trials, a three-time NCAA Division I All-American and a two-time NCAA Division I runner-up (1991 and 1992) at Oklahoma State University. By December of 1997, at the age of 33, Randy made his debut into the world of professional fighting claiming victory in the Heavyweight division of his first appearance in the UFC and soon earned the moniker “Randy ‘The Natural’ Couture.” Randy eventually moved down a weight class to the Light-Heavyweight division, where he would spend the remainder of his UFC career. Randy is, to this day, the first of only two UFC competitors to hold titles in both the Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight divisions. In June of 2006, Randy became the 4th professional fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame and that same year also retired. In March of 2007, Randy came out of retirement at the age of 44 shocking the world by re-capturing the UFC Heavyweight belt and becoming the first man in UFC history to win the Heavyweight title a total of three times. “The Natural” retired once and for all at the age of 47 but continues to be a highly respected presence in combat sports. Randy also dedicates time to running his own chain of gyms, Xtreme Couture MMA, a thriving clothing line, Xtreme Couture MMA Clothing, a supplement company, Xtreme Couture Pharmaceuticals (XCAP), and giving back through his foundation, the Xtreme Couture GI Foundation dedicated to honoring the veterans of America’s Armed Forces. Randy currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada and is an avid outdoorsman with a passion for motorcycles, hunting and poetry. RANDY COUTURE partners with KARINA SMIRNOFF.
BETSEY JOHNSON --Known for her over-the-top celebration of the exuberant and the embellished, Betsey has been rocking the fashion industry with her unique and original designs since the 1960’s. Her commitment to remain true to her one-of-a-kind vision has afforded Betsey continued success in an industry known for its fickleness. Her ability to change with the times while keeping her designs pure has not gone unnoticed.
Betsey was born in Connecticut and spent her childhood in dance classes. Her aspirations to be a dancer and her love for costumes laid the foundation for Betsey's creativity and inspiration, which is still evident in her designs today. In 1964, Betsey entered the New York fashion scene by winning Mademoiselle magazine’s “Guest Editor Contest.” One year later, she landed the top designer position for Paraphernalia, a clothing boutique that at the time housed the hottest young British designers.
Betsey Johnson, both the woman and the label, is constantly moving forward and continues to keep a strong foothold in the fashion industry with no signs of letting up anytime soon. Her love of detail and design is evident in everything she does in life and in business. Her enthusiasm, creativity and boundless talent that have kept her at the forefront of fashion for the past 45 years will keep Betsey going for years to come. BETSEY JOHNSON partners with TONY DOVOLANI.
LOLO JONES --Lolo Jones, born in Des Moines, Iowa, is one of the greatest track athletes of her generation and one of the greatest American hurdlers of all time. The American record holder at 60 meters, Lolo was a three-time national champion at Louisiana State University (which led to being named All-American 11 times). After college, she only got faster, winning the U.S. indoor national championship three times, and then she topped that by winning gold medals at the indoor World Championships twice. In addition to appearances at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics for hurdles, Lolo became just the 10th American in history to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, as a member of the U.S. Bobsled Team for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. LOLO JONES partners with new “Dancing with the Stars” pro KEO MOTSEPE.
BETHANY MOTA --In only five years, youtube.com sensation, fashion designer, and beauty expert, Bethany Mota has become one of the most recognizable names on social media. Today, Bethany’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/macbarbie07) has over 7 million subscribers, and her videos have been viewed almost 500 million times. Bethany got her start when she created a channel on YouTube under the moniker Macbarbie07 in June 2009. Originally intended as a fun outlet for a tween girl to share her opinions on fashion and style, Bethany's charismatic personality and unique eye for popular trends have earned her a devoted following on multiple platforms.
At the age of 19, Bethany regularly travels across the country and the globe to mentor and help build other social networks. In late 2013, Bethany designed and launched her first ever collection for apparel brand Aeropostale. Targeted at teens between 14 and 17 years old, the line can be found in over 900 stores around the country and includes apparel, accessories and jewelry. She most recently launched her new scent Bethany Mota fragrance. BETHANY MOTA partners with DEREK HOUGH.
Val discusses what he would look for in a perfect partner. Does Janel Parrish fit the bill?
JANEL PARRISH --Born in Hawaii, Janel started her career with a love for music. She entered and won a statewide singing contest at age 6 and soon followed that with being cast in the National Touring Company and Broadway Company of “Les Miserables” as Little Cosette. It wasn’t long before Janel’s Broadway experience and recognition led to acting auditions in Hollywood. While studying acting, Janel continued to train vocally, eventually adding piano to her repertoire. She also began writing her own music, which led to becoming the lead singer in a 3 girl pop group called “Impulse” as well as a recording deal with Geffen Records.
Currently, Janel can be seen as “Mona” in the top-rated ABC Family TV series, “Pretty Little Liars.” For her role she won the “Choice TV Villain” award at the 2012 and 2013 Teen Choice Awards as well as a TV Guide Award nomination. Her love of musical theater also remains. In 2012, Parrish returned to her theater roots in Over the Moon Productions' intimate presentation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Spring Awakening” as Anna. In 2014, she hit the stage in “For the Record: Baz Luhrmann” as well as “For the Record: Tarantino.” Other television credits include “Drop Dead Diva,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Heroes”, “Gepetto,” “Baywatch,” “The O’Keefe’s,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” “Zoey 101,” “True Jackson, VP,” and “The O.C.” She has also graced the big screen starring in feature films such as “Bratz: The Movie,” “One Kine Day” and “Knots.” JANEL PARRISH partners with VALENTIN CHMERKOVSKIY.
ALFONSO RIBEIRO – Alfonso’s interests and loves vary from acting, best known for his role as Carlton Banks on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” to his active career today as a television director, host and voice-over. He made his first big role cast opposite Ricky Schroder in the long-running sitcom “Silver Spoons,” making him an instant teen idol. His directing credits include television shows “Shake It Up,” “Are We There Yet?” “The Wannabes,” “Meet The Browns,” “Cuts,” “Eve,” “One on One,” “All of Us” and “Mighty Med” on Disney XD.
Starting his acting career at the age of eight, Alfonso landed his first starring role in the Broadway musical “The Tap Dance Kid,” whereupon he was signed to famed music label Island Records. He became an overnight sensation, enamoring the likes of director Bob Geraldi, choreographer Michael Peters and “The King of Pop” Michael Jackson (who enlisted Alfonso in the infamous Pepsi commercial). After taking time to attend Cal State University, Los Angeles where he earned a Theater Arts education, Alfonso was offered a role in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Alfonso played the memorable character of Carlton Banks, opposite his friend, Will Smith. Following six years on the popular series “Fresh Prince,” he was then approached by Quincy Jones to appear with L.L.Cool J in the NBC/UPN series “In the House.” Both can still be seen in syndication. In his free time, he plays sports and is a scratch golfer and a professional car racer, having received countless trophies and medals from numerous worldwide competitions. A native of The Bronx, New York, he currently resides in Southern California. ALFONSO RIBEIRO partners with WITNEY CARSON.
SADIE ROBERTSON – Sadie Robertson is well known for her dimples and engaging smile, but there is more to the 17-year-old charmer and star of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” than that. A high school athlete and motivational speaker, Sadie spends her summers on mission trips and working at a Christian youth camp spreading her message to peers about being confident in who you are and learning to “live original.”
Sadie also embodies the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of the Robertson family and has carried her philosophy into multiple business ventures, collaborating with fashion designer Sherri Hill on her own “daddy-approved” prom dress line, Live Original, (she even walked in Hill’s show for New York Fashion Week in 2013) and developing her own Live Original line of school supplies for DaySpring. Sadie’s new book, “Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values,” is available now at retailers nationwide. SADIE ROBERTSON partners with MARK BALLAS.
ANTONIO SABATO JR. --Antonio Sabato Jr. once overlooked Time Square from a 90-foot billboard dressed only in his Calvin Klein underwear. The iconic fashion designer hired the actor to be the company’s first celebrity model since Mark Wahlberg and famed photographer Herb Ritts shot the campaign. That combination caused a sensation when the photos appeared in every magazine and hundreds of billboards throughout the world. Antonio is widely known for his fan-favorite role as Jagger Cates on ABC’s “General Hospital” and for playing Jack Parezi on “Melrose Place.” He was also featured in People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” issue.
This fall catch Antonio in Investigation Discovery’s “Heartbreakers,” FX's “The League” and starting September 8th, tune it to see him host his own nationally syndicated series “Fix It & Finish It.” Every weekday “Fix It & Finish It” will take viewers around the country to find homes, cabins, RV’s and even tree houses that need a makeover both inside and out. Antonio and his team of contractors and designers go in and do their magic, all in one day, with renovation results that astound and that also change lives.
Growing up in Rome, Antonio’s first language is Italian and he didn’t learn to speak English until he moved to Beverly Hills in 1984 with his mom and sister. He is a fitness and auto-racing enthusiast and an accomplished author, “No Excuses: Workout for Life”. Antonio currently resides in Los Angeles where he enjoys spending time with his wife, Cheryl and children, Jack, Mina, and toddler son Antonio Kamakana. ANTONIO SABATO JR. partners with CHERYL BURKE.
TAVIS SMILEY – Tavis Smiley is currently the host of the late-night television talk show “Tavis Smiley” on PBS, as well as “The Tavis Smiley Show” from Public Radio International (PRI). He has authored or co-authored 16 books, including What I Know for Sure: My Story of Growing Up in America and The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, both of which were New York Times Bestsellers. His latest book, Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year, will be published in September. It examines the widespread assaults on Dr. King’s character, ideology and political tactics in the year leading up to his assassination. Smiley is the founder of the nonprofit Tavis Smiley Foundation, which recently announced a $3 million, four-year campaign called “ENDING POVERTY: America’s Silent Spaces” to alleviate endemic poverty in America. In 2009, TIME magazine named Smiley to its list of “The World’s 100 Most Influential People.” This past April, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce honored him with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. TAVIS SMILEY partners with recently announced pro dancer SHARNA BURGESS.
LEA THOMPSON -- Lea Thompson is perhaps best known for her role as the various incarnations of Lorraine McFly in “Back to the Future I, II, and III” (Kid’s Choice Film Actress Award) and as the star of “Caroline in the City” (People’s Choice Award). Thompson has starred in more than 30 films, 25 television movies, 4 television series, more than 20 ballets, and starred on Broadway in “Cabaret”. Lea can currently be seen on ABC Family’s Peabody Award winning hit show “Switched at Birth,” where she acts and directs. Lea’s movie credits include: “All the Right Moves,” “Red Dawn,” “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Howard The Duck”(star and vocals), Clint Eastwood’s “J. Edgar;” the 2014 Sundance favorite “Ping Pong Summer;” and soon to be released “Left Behind” starring Nicolas Cage.
Lea lives in Los Angeles with her husband of twenty-five years, film/television director Howard Deutch, and their two talented daughters, Madelyn and Zoey, along with many dogs, fish, horses, chickens, a cat, tortoise, and parrot. She supports and often performs for breast cancer, mental health, and Alzheimer’s charities. Lea is currently in pre-production on “The Year of Spectacular Men,” a film written by her daughter Madelyn Deutch, and is writing her first book of essays. LEA THOMPSON partners with international Mirrorball Trophy holder ARTEM CHIGVINTSEV.
Racecar driver Michael Waltrip talks about NASCAR fans and what he won't have to face in the ballroom
MICHAEL WALTRIP – Michael Waltrip is a winning professional racecar driver, founder and co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, a widely recognized network racing commentator and author of a best-selling biography. Waltrip is a two-time winner of NASCAR’s crown jewel event, the Daytona 500, and is one of only two drivers in history to hold victories in NASCAR’s three top tier divisions over four consecutive decades. Waltrip still competes on a limited basis, posting two top 10 finishes in just four events in 2013. In recent years, Waltrip has driven in international events, competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona, as well as events in Spa, Belgium, Sebring and Dubai.
The Kentucky native founded Michael Waltrip Racing and his organization brought Toyota Motor Corporation into NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in 2007, where his teams have won seven times and finished runner-up in the championship standings in 2012. As an expert commentator on Fox Sports 1 for the Camping World Truck series and an analyst for NASCAR on FOX during NASCAR Sprint Cup races, Waltrip has established himself as one of the industry’s most respected voices and biggest personalities.
In 2011, Michael published his best-selling book In the Blink of an Eye, celebrating the 10th anniversary of his historic 2001 Daytona 500 victory on the same day his mentor, boss, friend and owner, Dale Earnhardt, perished on the final lap. His story spent 11 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Away from the track, Waltrip has competed in four marathons, including the Boston Marathon and his own marathon event, which raised more than $1,000,000 for charity. His humorous demeanor launched a multi-stop Comedy Tour in 2010. MICHAEL WALTRIP partners with EMMA SLATER.
For the first two weeks viewers may cast their votes for their favorite couples via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the “Dancing with the Stars” broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/votedwts/ is open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 11:00 a.m., ET/8:00 a.m., PT the next day. From week three until the finale, viewers may cast their votes for their favorite couples via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the “Dancing with the Stars” broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/votedwts/ is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT on Tuesday evenings.
For the final week, on Monday, November 24th, online voting will open for 15 hours, beginning from the start of the episode on the East Coast at 8:00 p.m., ET/5:00 p.m., PT and closing at 11:00 a.m., ET/8:00 a.m., PT the next day. A custom Facebook app lets fans vote, share whom they voted for and say why, as well as see whom friends voted for.
Hosted by Emmy® Award-winning host Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Erin Andrews (sports host & “Dancing with the Stars” Season 10 finalist), “Dancing with the Stars” is the hit multi-award-winning series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines which are judged by renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli, Carrie Ann Inaba and ballroom dancer and Emmy®- Nominated choreographer Julianne Hough.