From crazy name changes to LBGT haters to pre-premiere injuries, Season 13 of “Dancing with the Stars” has already shaped up to be another attention-getting season. But who grabbed our attention for the right reasons on Monday night’s premiere, which featured the 12 contestants dancing either a Cha Cha or a Viennese Waltz?
Did the Vegas odds makers’ frontrunner Elisabetta Canalis deliver?
Did David Arquette, whom the cast members feared the most, live up to the hype?
Did controversial contestant Chaz Bono surprise anyone?
Before we get to that, the new “Dancing with the Stars” set sparkled, shined, and dazzled with cool new balcony boxes for audience members, a new log on the judges’ table, and a bigger dance floor. Some mega-stars were also in the audience to cheer on their family and friends — Courteney and Coco Cox, Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Lamar Odom, Pee Wee Herman, and Nancy Grace’s twins.
Here’s how night one went down…
Ron Artest and Peta Murgatroyd: Cha Cha
The Laker formerly known as Ron Artest was still billed as Ron Artest in the opening credits and introduced as Ron Artest by Tom Bergeron. “Last week he changed his name to Metta World Peace, but tonight he’s dancing as Ron Artest,” said co-host Brooke Burke Charvet (who coincidentally has changed her name this season after getting married) while introducing the first dancer of the night. Confused? Yeah, me too. “For me, it lacked Cha Cha content, your footwork was atrocious. It was all sizzle, no sausage,” said Len Goodman. “You do have power and you have presence,” said Bruno Tonioli. Carrie Ann Inaba called the newly blond Artest sexy.
Robert Kardashian and Cheryl Burke: Viennese Waltz
With mom Kris and sisters Kim and Khloe Kardashian in the front row, Rob got a verbal smackdown from Cheryl who told him, “You’re my woman right now” after Rob was acting like a caveman in rehearsal calling Cheryl his woman. Bruno said he looked petrified. “You got to relax!” he screamed at Rob. Khloe screamed something out at the judges, which was wildly inappropriate. “I’m not impressed, but I’m not depressed. It was okay. It was too careful,” said Len. In the post-show interview, Brooke asked Cheryl if Rob will do better than Kim did when she appeared on Season 7. “Yeah, he has so much more potential.” Ouch.
Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas: Cha Cha
“I am Kristin Cavallari and I’m not a bitch” is how the former “Hills” star introduced herself. A lot of hair-flipping in the routine, but she did a pretty good job. “You have the body to ballroom dance, girlfriend and your hair-ography was great,” said Carrie Ann. “It was bright, it was lively and there was lots going on,” said Len. “Kristin, you know I love a bad girl, a bad girl with hot hips,” said a naughty Bruno.
Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani: Viennese Waltz
She was awful in rehearsal – slipping, and even hitting poor Tony straight in the crotch. But come showtime the performer in her came out and delivered a beautiful and elegant waltz. She even had a 15-second solo that she nailed perfectly. “That does not feel like a week one dance,” said Tom. “Chynna, it wasn’t the best first dance I’ve ever seen but I’ll tell you what, it was close,” said Len. “You looked like you were stepping out of a dream and into my heart,” said Bruno. “That was gorgeous. You are such a graceful dancer,” cooed Carrie Ann. “That was magical. I can’t wait to see you next week.”
Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus: Cha Cha
Funny moment of the night: “The turd step?!” asked Nancy when Tristan said “the third step” in his heavy Irish accent in rehearsal. As for her dance, she surprised big time. She kicked it off by ripping off her suit jacket to unveil a sexy, shimmery dress. “You’ve got the moves. You have it,” said Bruno. “You’re so cute. I think you might be the happiest contestant I’ve ever seen,” said Carrie Ann. “It was all a little bit for me underwhelming really,” said Len, causing the three judges to fight it out.
David Arquette and Kym Johnson: Viennese Waltz
“It’s like having an amusement park in your heart,” David said to Kym after a good rehearsal. It’s quirky comments like that that make David – who was cheered on by ex Courteney Cox and daughter Coco in the crowd – so lovable. While he looked quite dashing on the dance floor, the judges thought he needed work. “You were just trying a little too hard,” said Carrie Ann. “I was very, very impressed,” said Len. “You did look the part, the romantic leading man…then you got entangled in the goddess,” said Bruno.
Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy: Cha Cha
We called it. Val said his biggest obstacle with the Italian model is the language barrier. But the two spoke the international language of love when they started their routine in bed under red sheets (with Val shirtless … just like brother Maks is a lot of the time!) to the tune of Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night.” Len said, “I didn’t like the bed, all that malarkey up there. Once you got going, I didn’t mind it that much.” “I like the bed. You were very good in bed,” joked Bruno. Carrie Ann suggested she channel the model in her when she’s performing.
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya: Cha Cha
The funniest member of the cast, Carson brought humor, playfulness, and sheer joy to the dance floor, making the pressroom erupt in laughter with every step of the dance. The ballroom audience went berserk for it too. But were the judges amused? “That was my favorite dance of the night,” said Carrie Ann. “There were elements of Jagger, swagger, and stagger,” said Len, referring to the song the two danced to, Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.” “You’re just full-out outrageous fun,” said Bruno, who joked that we have two for the price of one: “We have Mick. We have Bianca.”
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff: Viennese Waltz
Graceful, debonair, and beautiful! “For me, J.R. stands for Just Right. I’ll see you next week, well done,” said Len. Bruno loved it too. “It needs a little bit of spit and polish here and there, but as Len said, right on top tonight.” Carrie Ann said she was touched by his performance and saw “genuine emotional quality” to his dance.
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough: Viennese Waltz
She’s looking good. She’s lost 8 pounds so far and she is really in it to win it, and it showed on the dance floor. “You enjoyed every moment. Wonderful,” said Bruno. “You look like a little princess out there and Derek is your perfect prince. Very, very nice,” said Carrie Ann. “I don’t want to be picky Ricki, your footwork, I don’t know what was going on with your feet,” said Len, who then added, “overall I enjoyed it very much.”
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer: Cha Cha
He’s got a lot going against him. As he pointed out, his age, weight, and the pressure of making his fans happy is getting to him. Was it apparent come show time? Nope. “I think people have been waiting to see you all night and you did not disappoint,” said Carrie Ann. “Razzmatazz Chaz. You really came out with the right attitude. You came out to enjoy yourself,” said Len. “Cheeky but so cute and cuddly!” said Bruno.
So, who were the biggest surprises of the night? David and Kym chime in on what they thought:
“Chynna Phillips surprises me. She really surprised me,” Kym said. David added, “She’s beautiful, graceful.” He also mentioned he was “really proud of Chaz.”
“We knew our cast would be entertaining, but Carson was something else. His performance was amazing,” Kym went on to say. “And JR as well. His story is inspiration and his dancing was beautiful, really from the heart. That was really touching.”
Tune-in Tuesday night for the first “DWTS” elimination of the season.