Simon Who? Former ‘American Idol’ Star Kellie Pickler on Her ‘DWTS’ Crossover

Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough Train for "DWTS" (Photo: ABC)

Country cutie Kellie Pickler is the first person to be cast on America’s top two reality shows. Kellie, who shot to fame singing on Season 5 of “American Idol,” is now getting ready for the new “Dancing with the Stars” with partner Derek Hough.

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And when recently caught up with the blonde singer, she was looking forward to facing a new set of judges instead of Idol’s Simon Cowell (who himself has moved on to “The X Factor”). Kellie was one of Mr. Nasty’s favorites, but when asked what Simon would think of her “DWTS” gig, Kellie shrugged, “I don’t know. Does it matter?” On being the first-ever crossover from “Idol” to “DWTS” (which have long taped next door to each other at CBS Studios), she commented, “It was going to happen sooner or later so I’m glad to be the one that breaks the seal!”

What matters more to Kellie, however, is that one of the most special people in her life wanted her to give “DWTS” a try. “This is my grandpa Ken’s favorite television show,” she confided to xfinityTV. “I told him I was asked to do it again and he said if I didn’t do it, then I wasn’t his favorite granddaughter anymore.” She added with a smile, “But I’m his only grandchild.”

Still, with her grandfather and her songwriter husband Kyle Jacobs also “very supportive” of the move, Kellie has embarked on dance training. “I’m very excited about it and it just worked out schedule-wise,” she explained. “I’ve always wanted to do the show and this was my opportunity.”

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Kellie plans to juggle “DWTS” with touring and recording new music. And she’s thrilled one of her idols and fellow country stars, Wynonna Judd, is also on Season 16. “I love her! I was so excited when I found out she was going to be a part of it. She’s country music royalty and I grew up listening to her and The Judds.”

Which country singer will dance better? It remains to be seen, but partner Derek told xfinityTV that so far, Kellie is showing impressive leg extensions. “When she straightens her leg, it looks stunning. She’s flexible and has a sense of her body already, which is fantastic,” he said.

Kellie added, “I’m excited about toning up and just trying something new and stepping outside my comfort zone. When you take chances like that, it helps you grow as a person. It builds your character. And this is definitely going to be the biggest challenge I’ve ever had.”

And when fans see the country star on the March 18 “DWTS” premiere on ABC, she’ll look much different from her “Idol” days. Kellie shaved her head to support her friend, Summer Holt Miller, who was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Kellie’s blonde hair is now growing back but it’s now similar in length to that of her golden boy partner, Derek!

“It’s growing slowly but surely,” Kellie said. “I always said I wanted to try a Halle Berry haircut but I never had the guts to do it. But when Summer was diagnosed with breast cancer, we just made a pact from the get-go that we would shave our heads together and I had no idea that it would get the reaction that it got. But I love her so much there’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for her. It’s just hair. I don’t care!”

Meanwhile, the “Best Days of Your Life” singer doesn’t have any particular strategies for the DWTS competition, but brings the same sunny attitude that endeared her to Idol fans. “You have to have a positive mind set and what will be, will be,” she said.

Season 16 of “Dancing with the Stars” premieres Monday, March 18 at 8/7c on ABC.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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