And they’re ‘Dancing’ …
When ABC’s Dancing With the Stars returns March 19 (8 ET/PT) for a fourth season, it’ll be with a slate of celebrities aimed at raising both eyebrows and heartbeats.
Heather Mills, estranged wife of Paul McCartney, headlines the list of 11 celebs. It includes two singers, three athletes, a former supermodel and an ex-beauty queen.
As Dancing’s first amputee performer ó part of her leg was lost after a motorcycle accident ó Mills could burnish an image severely tarnished by the messy divorce proceedings with McCartney.
Says Dancing producer Conrad Green: “People will definitely be interested in how Heather copes.”
Brian McDonald, a former U.S. dance champion and ballroom dancing judge, says Mills won’t have an easy time. “She could gain a lot of sympathy from viewers and (the show’s three) judges,” he says. “But these dances can be very demanding and require a great deal of footwork.”
The show, patterned after British hit Strictly Come Dancing, matches celebrities with pro ballroom dancers. Routines are rated by judges and viewers. Putting B-list celebs into ballroom costumes helped ABC draw an average 20 million viewers for last season’s competition shows and 27.5 million for the finale, won by NFL all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith.
ïFormer ‘N Sync singer Joey Fatone, 30, who says he had been courted for the show since Season 1. He says the large audience is part of the attraction of competing. “After seeing the show, I have no problem making (a fool) out of myself,” he says.
ïVincent Pastore, the season’s oldest competitor at 60, best known for playing mobster Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero on HBO’s The Sopranos. Though he has no formal dance training, after three lessons, “call me Fred Astaire,” he says. “I like to do competitive things, so I’m not going to fall on my face.”
ïShandi Finnessey, 28, Miss USA 2004 and co-host of Game Show Network’s Lingo. She says rehearsals are already taking their toll: “The first day, I got extreme blisters all over my feet. Yesterday, all the blisters broke.”
ïLaila Ali, 29, undefeated boxing pro and daughter of heavyweight legend Muhammad Ali. “She’s a great athlete,” Green says. “Smart, beautiful and driven. She could be the surprise” of the competition.
ïBilly Ray Cyrus, 45, actor and country singer, who co-stars on the Disney Channel hit Hannah Montana with daughter Miley.
ïClyde Drexler, 44, the 6-foot-7 former Houston Rocket and Portland Trailblazer and one of the NBA’s all-time top 50 players.
ïLeeza Gibbons, 49, former Entertainment Tonight co-host.
ïApolo Ohno, 24, two-time Olympic gold medalist in short-track skating and the youngest competitor in Dancing history.
ïPaulina Porizkova, 41, a supermodel in the ’80s.
ïIan Ziering, 42, a Beverly Hills 90210 heartthrob
Winners will be crowned May 22.
And they’re ‘Dancing’ …