Has Dancing With the Stars become Hollywood’s latest way to get paid to lose weight? Maybe not for everyone, but as ABC announced this season’s lineup of DWTS 21st season today celebrity chef Paul Deen commented, “What I hope I’m going to get out of this is a bunch of new friends and maybe lose some weight and a little better body.” Though known for her butter-laden cooking, Deen also said her recent 35-pound weight loss was a significant factor in gaining the confidence to do the show.
ABC has been leaking news of new participants all week before announcing the entire cast lineup on Good Morning America. The roster will include a mix of celebrities, singers, reality stars, and as usual as few participants who are hard to pigeonhole: an animal activist, a jockey, a social media star, and an international hero. Spc. Alek Akarlatos, 22, the Army National Guardsman who helped stop a terrorist attack on a European train has signed on to shimmy and shake with Lindsay Arnold. Singers Carlos and Alex PenaVega will become the first married couple to compete against one another on the show.
According to Variety, this season’s dance pairings are:
US Army National Guard Spc. Alek Skarlatos with Lindsay Arnold
Actress Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids) with Mark Ballas
Singer Andy Grammer with Allison Holker
Naturalist Bindi Irwin with Derek Hough
Singer Carlos PenaVega (Big Time Rush) with Witney Carson
Singer Chaka Khan with Keo Motsepe
Actor Gary Busey with Anna Trebunskaya
Social media celeb Hayes Grier with Emma Slater
Reality celeb Kim Zolciak-Biermann with Tony Dovolani
Singer Nick Carter with Sharna Burgess
Celebrity chef Paula Deen with Louis van Amstel
Singer/reality show celeb Tamar Braxton with Val Chmerkovskiy
Professional jockey/Triple Crown Winner Victor Espinoza with Karina Smirnoff
Bindi Irwin gave a preview of her dance skills in a DWTS promo video earlier this week and partner Derek Hough spoke out about his partner during a reception for Emmy nominees. Speaking to Mingle Media host Kristyn Burtt Hough said, “You talk about somebody who literally finds joy in every second of the day — it’s hard to describe. She’s so connected to the Earth and to wildlife and to the world.” Hough added “It literally just makes you want to be a better person.”
Irwin later spoke about her father, beloved researcher Steve Irwin, in an interview with ABC, “Whatever the opposite of a procrastinator is, that was him…and I think I kind of inherited a little bit of that. I’m hoping to make dad proud.”
The judges’ panel will feature regulars Bruno Toniolo, Carrie Ann Inaba and Julianne Hough, along with celebrity judges. Len Goodman is not returning as a regular judge but may appear throughout the season.
DWTS premieres September 14 on ABC.