Stay Tuned
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Saturday, March 17, 2007

A "Dancing With the Stars" Preview

I’ve never been a fan of “Dancing With the Stars,” and I’m definitely not thrilled about it moving to Mondays. But how could I not root for Billy Ray Cyrus?

Billy Ray is dancing with Mario Lopez’s partner, Karina Smirnoff. As he says, “Last year, Karina had Mario. Now, she’s got a left-footed hillbilly.”

In his defense, Karina says “he has so much talent and personality. I have to bring it out on the dance floor.” You may recall how hard Karina was on Mario last season and apparently she hasn’t changed. Billy Ray says he’s changed his name to Rotator because she’s always telling him to rotate.

As for his dance experience, he says he has none. He doesn’t even know the “Achy Breaky” and he skipped most of his dances in high school.

Speaking of his famous song, Billy Ray says he won’t use it unless they ask him to sing it. Let me put in that request right now. Don’t you think that would be a cool closing song for the results show one week?...

Billy Ray cites family as the reason why he’s doing the show. His father, who passed away last year, was a huge fan. And when his daughter, Noah, told her first-grade teacher her dad was “scared” to do the show, the teacher told her to go home and tell him “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”

When “DWTS” is over, Billy Ray will go back to “Hannah Montana” AND recording an album for Disney (Woo-hoo!)…

So who’s the competition?

Heather Mills, the ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney, will get a lot of attention because of her artificial leg. She’s paired with Jonathan Roberts, who last danced with Rachel Hunter.

Apolo Anton Ohno, the 2006 Olympic Gold Medal Winner for short-track speedskating, didn’t start his dance training in earnest until March 13th after the World Championships. He’s paired with first-timer Julianne Hough.

Joey Fatone, the ‘N Sync-er, is paired with Kym Johnson, who last danced with Jerry Springer.

Ian Ziering of “Beverly Hills 90210” is paired with two-time champ Cheryl Burke.

Shandi Finnessey, Miss USA 2004, is paired with first-timer Brian Fortuna.

Paulina Porizkova, the supermodel, is paired with Alec Mazo, who last danced with Season One champ Kelly Monaco.

Laila Ali, the undefeated super middleweight women’s boxing champ, is paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who last danced with Willa Ford.

John Ratzenberger, best known for playing Cliff on “Cheers” only had 17 days to practice because he was a last-minute substitution for Vincent Pastore. He’s paired with Edyta Sluvinkska, who last danced with Joey Lawrence.

Leeza Gibbons, best known for her time on “Entertainment Tonight,” is paired with Tony Dovolani, who last danced with Sara Evans.

Clyde Drexler, the former NBA star, will be the tallest contestant ever (at 6’7”). He’s paired with Elesa Grinemko, who last danced while Tucker Carlson sat and watched.

“Dancing With the Stars” premieres with a two-hour performance show Monday, March 19th at 8 p.m. The results show will premiere Tuesday, March 27th at 9 p.m. on ABC...

Photo of Billy Ray Cyrus dancing with Thea Andrews of "Entertainment Tonight," courtesy of ET Online. Photo of Ian Ziering and Cheryl Burke courtesy of Gannett News Service.