Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Friends and fellow sequins lovers, I'm so excited about Dancing With the Stars' upcoming 18th season that I decided to ignore my No-Blogging-Until-You-Finish-Book-3! rule and indulge myself in a major geek-out! Won't you slather yourself with tanning cream, don something sparkly, and join me?

First of all, let's talk about some of the changes coming up on my favorite reality show. As I'm sure you've all heard, Brooke Burke Charvet is out as co-host and sportscaster/S10 third place finisher Erin Andrews is in. I felt badly for Brooke when I heard about her not being asked back at the last minute. Not cool, ABC! But I don't think it's necessarily a bad idea to mix things up. I'm willing to give Erin a chance. The good news is that the celebriquarium/skybox will be back, so Erin will be doing post-dance interviews with the couples up there rather than down in the audience. Thank the mirrorball gods! I hated the set-up last season with the celebs sitting next to the judges' table in the front row of the audience and having to do interviews from their seats. It was just so painfully awkward!

Also, Harold Wheeler and his orchestra will no longer be supplying the ballroom with their classic brand of music. In their stead will be new musical director Ray Chew. No idea what type of band he'll be directing, but rumor has it that we'll be hearing more electronic music rather than orchestral.

Fun Fact: Ray Chew was the bandleader at Barack Obama's first inaugural ball.

Now for some really shocking news - for the first time ever, celebs will be switching partners during the course of the season! GASP The fans have a lot of power here, because their votes will decide which pro each celeb will be switched to. It's still unclear as to whether these partner switches will be permanent, or just for one week. Either way, it's an intriguing concept . . . and kinda scary. We'll have to see how this pans out. I predict drama and lots of celeb meltdowns!

Season 18 will premiere on Monday, March 17th, which is St. Patrick's Day! Ironically, beloved ballroom leprechaun, Tristan MacManus, will not be partnering with a celeb this season. All together now . . . BOOOOOO!!!!!! Here's a statement from the yummy Irishman himself. Sounds like he might not be returning to DWTS at all. Sad face.

Fun Fact: During the break between Seasons 17 and 18, Tristan got married to beautiful Aussie actress Tahyna Tozzi. These two are going to have some beautiful babies!     

So, who will be competing this season and what do I think their chances are? I'm going to look into my glitter-dusted crystal ball and make a few predictions. Let's start with the men. Women have won the past three seasons, so I'd say that it's time for a man to dominate the ballroom again. Will this new crop of fellas be up to the task?

Sean Avery (Hockey player), paired with Karina Smirnoff - I knew nothing about this guy prior to the announcement, but I was intrigued by the idea of a NHL player hitting the hardwood floor. Unfortunately, Sean doesn't have a great reputation. When I mentioned him to a Canadian friend, she branded him a "douche." He was very scowly on GMA when the cast announcement was made, and there was an uncomfortable vibe between him and Karina. So, I'm not feeling very positive about this couple, although maybe he's got a big voting fanbase as a lot of athletes do? My prediction: Out early, then he'll really have something to glower about.

Drew Carey (Actor/Game show host), paired with Cheryl Burke - Drew's lost a lot of weight in recent years and has become quite active physically, running a marathon, etc., so he's got that going for him. And he's funny, which is a quality that appeals to viewers of DWTS (see last year's surprise semi-finalist Bill Engvall.) Still, I don't really see him and Cheryl gelling, and the competition will be tough this season. My prediction: Middle of the pack

James Maslow (Actor, Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush/Boy band singer), paired with Peta Murgatroyd - EYE CANDY ALERT! Expect to see this young man dancing sans shirt a lot this season, and I'm sure Peta will play up the sexy angle with her choreography as she loves to do. I expect that James has a large teen following, who may help him out. Let's hope he has some dancing skillz to go with that handsome face and six pack. My prediction: Middle of the pack
Fun Fact: James and Peta were rumored to be dating last month - this would have been long before they were partnered. Will be interesting to see whether or not the show (or the couple) acknowledges them having any kind of a romantic relationship. 

Cody Simpson (Australian pop singer), paired with Witney Carson) - I wasn't overly impressed with this kid at the GMA announcement, but I'm, also, not 16 and The Bieber Factor doesn't influence me. He can probably dance since he's a singer, and I'm sure his fanbase is powerful (6.41 million followers on Twitter - YIKES!) Witney is small, cute, and blonde, so she should pair well with young Cody, but she probably won't be bringing any fans to the table since this will be her first season as a pro. My prediction: FINAL FOUR

Charlie White (Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing), paired with Sharna Burgess - Okay, let's just get this out of the way. SQUEEEEEEEEEE! I am a freak for ice dancing and have been a fan of Charlie and his partner, Meryl, for years. I cried when they won in Sochi, so I'm not even going to pretend not to be biased about these two. I heart them both and I'm excited to see them compete against each other for the first time. On a shallow note, I think Charlie is adorable (love that curly moptop of his!) and I'm stoked beyond belief that he will be dancing with Sharna Burgess, who's my fave female pro. I think she'll bring some edge and sexiness to her routines with Charlie, which will be fun. I will be rooting for this couple BIG TIME! With his athletic ability and fanbase, there's no way Charlie's not making it to the end. My prediction: FINAL FOUR  

Fun Fact:  Although their chemistry on the ice is palpable, Charlie and Meryl have never been a romantic couple. Charlie's long-time girlfriend is ice dancer Tanith Belbin (another favorite of mine back when she competed with Benjamin Agosto!)

Billy Dee Williams (Actor, Mahogany and The Empire Strikes Back), paired with Emma Slater - Lando Calrissian! Billy is very smooth, so I think he'll do well in the Ballroom dances. Latin, not so sure. He is 76 years old now, which means his body may hold him back. Fortunately, he's got Emma, who proved last season with Bill Engvall that she is a genius at choreographing to her partners' strengths. I wish this couple well, but fear that they'll have trouble making an impact with so many fierce, talented competitors. My prediction: Out early 

Candace Cameron Bure (Actress, Full House, Make It or Break It), paired with Mark Ballas - Candace brings a huge nostalgia factor with her to the ballroom, because we all watched her grow up on Full House. And she's still relevant today, with her Hallmark movies and bestselling books. So far, Candace and Mark seem very goofy cute in their interviews, so I think they can play up the "fun" in their partnership and do well. I expect that Candace will excel at the elegant Ballroom and struggle a bit with finding her "wild side" in Latin. My prediction: Middle of the pack

Fun Fact: Andrea Barber aka Kimmy Gibbler, DJ Tanner's bestie on Full House, is already showing her support for Candace on Twitter, claiming that she'll be power voting for her friend and former co-star!

Meryl Davis (Olympic gold medalist in ice dancing), paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy - It goes without saying that Meryl will be grace and sophistication personified on the ballroom floor. Her posture and expressive hands in her ice dancing have always been exquisite, which will serve her well on the show. I'll be interested to see how her partnership with Maks works out. We all know how tough and blunt he can be as a teacher, but Meryl can probably handle it since she's been dealing with hardcore coaches most of her life. They'll need to find some chemistry and a spark to make it work, though. Fingers crossed. My prediction: FINAL FOUR  

Fun Fact:  Meryl and Maks are both Capricorns!

>NeNe Leakes (Actress, Reality star, Real Housewives of Atlanta), paired with Tony Dovolani - I've heard she can be a handful, so Tony may have his work cut out for him. NeNe doesn't strike me as being very inhibited, which may work to her advantage. I don't know that NeNe has that powerful of a fanbase and the last Housewife who did the show (Lisa Vanderpump) didn't last long. These two will have to bring something special to the show right off the bat if they want to stick around. My prediction: Out early 

Danica McKellar (Actress, The Wonder Years/Math whiz/Author), paired with Val Chmerkovskiy - Another celeb with a huge nostalgic factor. Who didn't love Winnie Cooper? And Danica has grown up to be a very accomplished and impressive woman. She has admitted to taking ballroom dance classes and is a huge fan of DWTS, so I think that experience and knowledge will serve her well. She and Val are well-matched physically and temperamentally, and I'm excited to see how they dance together. Val is such a creative choreographer (second only to Derek, in my opinion), so I think he'll work up some great routines to showcase Danica. If anyone has a shot at beating out Meryl and Charlie, it's Danica. My prediction: FINAL FOUR 

Fun Fact:  Did all her own dancing and lifts in 21 and a Wakeup with partner Jamie Bayard, of So You Think You Can Dance fame.

Diana Nyad (Long-distance swimmer), paired with Henry Byalikov - Diana has the stamina and work ethic to do well on the show and she seems to have a really fun personality, which should endear her to viewers, but it might be difficult for her to stand out in this crowd of uber-talented, high-profile celebs this season. I hope she enjoys her time on the show, however long that is. She's got a really great  partner in Henry, and from what I've seen he's a patient instructor. My prediction: Out early 

Amy Purdy (Paralympic snowboarder), paired with Derek Hough - This woman is a fighter and clearly enjoys a good challenge, so I'm looking forward to seeing how she does with the demands of this show. I have no doubt that Derek is the perfect partner for her, and he'll craft clever routines that will take her disability into consideration, but still push her and show what she's capable of. Heather Mills, who's also an amputee, did quite well on DWTS, and she wasn't an athlete like Amy. I think we'll see great things from Amy and Derek this season. My prediction: Middle of the pack 

Which couple(s) will you be rooting for this season? Do you think folks with previous dance experience (Meryl, Charlie, Danica) have an unfair advantage, or are you okay with "ringers?" Are you excited, or wary, of the new changes? Sound off below! 


  1. Thanks for the scoop, Tracie! I'll definitely be watching this season!

  2. Once again, this preview makes me want to watch a show I've never watched before. I'll be rooting for Charlie, too, even if I don't tune in. It's awesome how excited you are about this. I mean, breaking your blog silence? That's a pretty big deal. ;)

  3. This is my fav reality show too!!! So many things to discuss!

    First of all, I was never a fan of Brooke Burke…though she did improve over her time there. But yeah..t.the way ABC did it…not cool. But I like Erin Andrews and thought she was great during the cast reveal yesterday.

    SOOOOOO glad the celebriquarium is back. I HATED the show set up last season. And I sincerely hope the judges are back on the other side where they belong!

    As far as music…yeah…that bummed me out too ☹ I was under the impression that it would all be recorded music now.

    I think the switch is really cool! A definite game changer!

    Here are my thoughts on the couples:

    Sean and Karina: I had no clue who he was either, but thought it was cool that they finally had a hockey player. Hubby said the same thing as your fiend! LOL! I can’t imagine him having a good fan base.

    Drew and Cheryl: I’m sure he’ll be good for comedic value and will get decent fan support, but I can’t see him being any good at the actual dancing. Bill Engvall wasn’t a great dancer either, but I can’t see Drew having that same charisma.

    James and Peta: I openly admit…I am a boy-band fanatic, so of course I know who James Maslow is ;) Plus, my daughter adored BTR, before she moved onto 1D. James was her favorite. He’s adorable and they could be a sexy pair. I hope he has some good moves…I’d hate to see that sexiness wasted. But he did seem kinda stiff at the reveal…I hope he loosens up fast. Very interesting about them dating!

    Cody and Whitney: He seemed very stiff and quiet at the reveal too. I don’t have as high of hopes for him as you do.

    Charlie and Charna: I honestly did not see him skate…I just didn’t watch much of the Olympics this year. So I can’t base any of my thoughts on fact. But I have a hard time envisioning him being sexy! LOL! And doing well in latin. Ballroom I’m sure he’ll nail. And I do think he and Meryl have an unfair advantage in ballroom. They’re gold medalists! I’m sure skating is much different than dance, but still. I’m sure they’ll make it to the end and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it came down to him and Meryl. But I think I would feel it a little unfair to the rest.

    Billy and Emma: I know she will be great at choreographing for him, but due to his age, there’s just not too much she’ll be able to do.

    Candace and Mark: I agree. She will do well in ballroom, but the latin…yeah…I just can’t see her being all sexy and getting her hips to move right! LOL! But I bet their chemistry will be great.

    Meryl and Maks: Again, I don’t “know” her, but I feel like I know Maks and I can’t see them having chemistry. I think I will be REAL glad to see him get a new partner half way through. I adore Maks and I really want to see him win a mirrorball. But I am sure she will make it very far, if not the final 2, just because she has soooo much experience.

    NeNe and Tony: I like NeNe. She is much more than just a Housewife. I loved her on Glee and The new Normal. So she has more to her than just being a Housewife. I couldn’t stand that other one. But NeNe is sassy and that will help her in latin. I think Tony will do a great job with her.

    Danica and Val: Yeah…they will do real well. She has the nostalgia factor, but I think she will be much more at ease with being sexy than Candace will. I think the partnership will be great.

    Diana and Henri: Yeah…I don’t expect her to last long. I’m sure she will give it her all, but I can’t see her having any grace.

    Amy and Derek: Yes…I think he is the perfect pro for her. I am real interested in seeing how she dances. She’s a snowboarder, so her body is used to intense stuff.

    I’m real excited for the season to start!! It will be interesting, that’s for sure!!

  4. Yay! The Banister Buzz is back! I don't watch DWTS but your enthusiasm is definitely contagious. Charlie is just too adorable!! I have absolutely no idea who that Canadian friend who branded Sean Avery a douche might be... Hmmm... lol. Out of all the NHL players out there, THIS is the one they pick? I hope he gets eliminated first!!
    Hello?? That Tristan is HOT!!
    Looking forward to more Buzz!! :)

  5. First of all, I don't do well with change so this season will be rough for me. Ha! Partner switching? My heart can't handle that.
    I will miss Tristan, he was one of my fave dancers.
    Can't wait for the show to start!

  6. I must admit I haven't watched the past couple of seasons... mostly because my only writing time is at night. BUT this season is a MUST! You better keep the Buzz running with some updates. You know you wanna. :)

  7. Great post! I love your BUZZ, Tracie. You may even get me watching again. :-)

  8. Dang it - tried to leave a post earlier and it disappeared. Anyway... If I was a celeb I'd be seriously bummed about having to compete against Meryl or Charlie. They both ought to kick ass. Diana and Drew don't stand a chance... Charlie is enough to make me want to maybe tune in this season. He's so adorable!

  9. Loved your overview Tracie! Such fun ... Wish I had time to watch, though I think the partner switching is going to be interesting. Erin versus Brooke? Hmm. Hate it for BB -- but EA should be able to handle it just fine. My prediction is that she won't be as smooth and polished, but maybe the producers are looking for a draw from a different fan base??? (pro-football, not sure that's going to work)

    xx, Laura

  10. too funny... just told my hockey-loving hubby that Sean Avery would be on DWTS this season. His immediate reaction was, 'That guy's a douche." He told me to seach "sean avery waiving stick" on YouTube so I could see for myself. Yep, total douche! Employing what looks like grade-school playground tactics. Apparently they even had to make a special "Avery rule" to make him stop. Doesn't look like a very good sport. But I guess he has some moves....

  11. I missed the reveal, so THANK YOU for taking a "Banister Buzz hiatus" hiatus and giving me the lowdown. I can't say I'm really excited about any of the pairings, but I'm sure I'll have my favorites after the first show! :-)