With just two days to go before Dancing With The Stars Season 29 kicks off, new host Tyra Banks is ramping up the excitement by swinging into the weekend on a disco ball. The former America's Next Top Model star promised to "turn up the ballroom" in her first stint as host and executive producer. Banks is replacing both Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, who were let go over the summer as ABC takes the show in a new creative direction.
"We are gonna turn up the ballroom, y'all," Banks wrote on Instagram. "I'm gonna enter the stage riding on this disco ball Monday night. You know I’m KIDDING! But I’m being 100% real that [DWTS] with me as the new host premiers this Monday, September 14th at 8 p.m. on ABC. See you there, boo." She added dancing and kissing emojis in the caption. Of course, Banks is not the only major change the show is experiencing. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the celebrity contestants and their dance partners will be performing in a mostly empty ballroom, joined by the judges, Banks, and the production team.
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The show will also have a new judge. Former pro dancer Derek Hough will take the seat held by Len Goodman, who was not able to travel to the U.S. from his home in England due to travel restrictions. Goodman will still contribute virtually though. Hough is a six-time mirror ball trophy winner and was most recently seen as a judge on Jennifer Lopez's NBC series World of Dance. "This show has been and will always be incredibly special to me," Hough said in a statement. "Coming back feels like coming home and I couldn’t be more excited to be back in the ballroom."
Banks' hiring was controversial among longtime DWTS fans, as there has never been a season not co-hosted by Bergeron. Some theorized her hiring was part of an attempt to make the show more diverse, but Banks said this was not the case. "I've created TV shows, I've hosted Emmy-winning shows. I'm capable. I've always loved having the wind in my face. It doesn't bother me," Banks told reporters earlier this month. "My job is to endear America to this show they know and love. I'm going to bring excitement and oomph. I'm confident we're going to show people a good time."
The Season 29 celebrity contestants are: actors Anne Heche, Justina Machado, Jesse Metcalfe, Skai Jackson, and Chrishell Stause; Cheer star Monica Aldama; Tiger King star Carole Baskin; The Bachelorette's Kaitlyn Bristowe; retired athletes Vernon Davis, Charles Oakley, and Johnny Weir; TV host Jeannie Mai; Backstreet Boys singer AJ McLean; rapper Nelly; and Catfish host Nev Schulman. This year's pro dancers are Sharna Burgess, Peta Murgatroyd, Val Chmerkovskiy, Cheryl Burke, Keo Motsepe, Jenna Johnson, Alan Bersten, Brandon Armstrong, Sasha Farber, Pasha Pashkov, Emma Slater, Gleb Savchenko, Artem Chigvintsev, Britt Stewart, and Daniella Karagach.