Free DWTS Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on Dancing with the Stars sent straight to your email? Join hundreds of other DWTS fans who subscribe to Pure DWTS for FREE!

PureDWTS Julianne Hough Joins “America’s Got Talent” Judging Panel

In what seems to be a pattern of DWTS pros/judges making the move from ABC to other networks recently (first Derek to NBC for World of Dance, then Carrie Ann to CBS for The Talk), Julianne was just announced as one of the new judges for the upcoming summer season of America’s Got Talent:

“America’s Got Talent” has set a new host and members of its judging panel going into Season 14, Variety has learned.

Terry Crews will take over as host of the NBC competition show from Tyra Banks. In addition, Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough will serve as judges on the upcoming season, joining returning judges Simon Cowell and Howie Mandel. Mel B. and Heidi Klum will not return as judges.

Gotta say – this is likely a major step up for Julianne, as AGT has been a summertime ratings stalwart for YEARS. For those clamoring for her return to DWTS, however, I think this unfortunately means she’s done with DWTS for the foreseeable future – NBC is infamous for being stingy with their talent.  Which is disappointing for me, as I adore Terry Crews and would love to see him on DWTS at some point.  However, Mama Spence has been casually watching the AGT: The Champions mid-season series recently (which Terry has been hosting), and says that Terry is “the perfect host” – and this is coming from someone who loved Nick Cannon as the host of AGT. I rather expected Mel B not to return to AGT, given that she’s had some person struggles in recent years, but I’m a tad surprised that Heidi didn’t come back…or perhaps wasn’t asked back. All in all, an interesting development.

February 11, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

Rupaul’s Drag Race Finalist Courtney Act to Compete on DWTS Australia

So last week, we talked about RPDR season 8 champ Bob the Drag Queen starting a campaign to get on DWTS.  In an interesting development, RPDR season 6 runner-up Courtney Act (aka Shane Jenek) was just announced as a contestant on DWTS Australia:

Drag artist Courtney Act is set to appear on Australia’s Dancing with the Stars with a male partner.

Act, whose real name is Shane Jenek, was the final contestant to be announced in the 11-strong line-up for the celebrity-studded dance competition.

The drag queen, who made her name name on RuPaul’s Drag Race, revealed the news on Twitter and jokingly referred to her costume mishap while entering Celebrity Big Brother in January 2018, which she went on to win.

Courtney posted her promo pic on IG, which I think is pretty cute 🙂

Worth mentioning: Courtney’s no stranger to reality TV – aside from RPDR and her aforementioned win on Celebrity Big Brother UK, she also competed on the inaugural season of Australian Idol and is set to compete in the Eurovision song contest later this month. Note that they’ve got her dancing with a male pro, and there seems to be very few people getting worked up about it – I think if she does well (and she probably will), we could see DWTS here in the States taking notice and perhaps more seriously entertaining the notion of casting a drag queen for season 28. At this point, my vote’s for Ginger Minj – she was just in Dumplin’ and Super Drags, she’s got a theater and singing background, and there’s currently a bit of a grassroots campaign to get her cast as Ursula in the upcoming live action version of The Little Mermaid. She’s also short, which should eliminate a lot of the trickiness of pairing her with a male pro to dance with. But in the grand scheme of things, I’m just glad to see drag queens in the mainstream 😉

February 1, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28 Cast Rumors & Watch Out: Bob the Drag Queen Wants to Be on DWTS (POLL)

I apologize for the tardiness of this post – I was in Denver when Zoe (@ptxdwts on Twitter) pointed this out to me, and Heidi & Vogue were each tending to family business. But I’ve finally gotten a spare moment and thought we could talk about this 🙂

Last Friday night, Rupaul’s Drag Race season 8 winner Bob the Drag Queen (real name: Christopher Caldwell) tweeted out this message:

Now I vaguely remember a few drag queens joking a bit in the past about wanting to do the show, but I feel like this is the first instance where one of them actually seems serious about it.  Bob’s got a point – with the success of RPDR in the last ten years, drag queens are becoming much more well-known in the mainstream, as opposed to being considered more of a subculture/niche celebrity. They’re starring in Oscar-nominated movies (Willam and Shangela were in A Star is Born), TV events (Valentina is set to play Angel in Rent: Live this Sunday), and Netflix original content (Ginger Minj was most recently in Dumplin’, while Alyssa Edwards’ reality show Dancing Queen follows her dance school in Texas, and many of the voices in the cartoon Super Drags are former RPDR queens). Drag queens are having a moment – so perhaps it’s time for DWTS to give one a shot.  I’ve said it already, but I think season 28 is going to be a make-it-or-break-it season for this show – I think they’ve got to somehow revamp it, while also hanging onto their core fanbase. I think attitudes have changed (and continue to change), and while I’m sure there would be some obnoxiously-vocal bigots threatening to boycott the show if a drag queen was on, I think it could be cancelled out by the influx of new viewers the show could potentially get from casting a queen as famous as Bob.

Potential caveats? I assume Bob would be competing in drag, which means she’d be dancing with a male pro – and Bob is easily 6’2″-6’3″.  That’s at least as tall as Keo, our current tallest male pro, and I assume Bob would also be wearing heels.  I think it’s safe to say lifts are probably out 😛 Other than that, I can’t see too many logistical barriers…what do you guys think? I know I say this a lot anymore, but I just want to see something I haven’t seen before…so I’m all about Bob on DWTS 😉 Be sure to vote in the poll below!

January 25, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

Perez Hilton Says Joey Lawrence and “A Lot of Personalities Who Have Done DWTS” Are On Celebrity Big Brother Season 2

I got so wrapped up in former DWTS celebrities doing The Masked Singer that I spaced that Celebrity Big Brother season 2 is kicking off soon…and apparently that show is also borrowing from the former DWTS contestant casting pool, per Perez Hilton:

Sources tell us that Joey Lawrence is “definitely” doing it. And he has not been on any of the spoiler lists thus far.

Joining Joey in the Celebrity Big Brother house will be a lot of personalities who have previously done Dancing With the Stars on ABC.

Given that five of the eleven celebs on CBB season 1 were DWTS alums, it’s not surprising that CBB has dipped into the DWTS pond again – especially since Deena Katz (DWTS casting director) is apparently doing casting for CBB now, too. So begins the speculation – who was on DWTS that isn’t currently up to anything and maybe might need the money/exposure? Ochocinco? Aaron Carter? T.O.? Kate Gosselin? Let’s hear your guesses…

January 10, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

DWTS Season 19 Contestant Tommy Chong 2nd Celeb Voted Off “The Masked Singer”; More Former DWTS Contestants Likely Behind the Masks

Well, as we hypothesized last week – it sure seems like the casting department for The Masked Singer went fishing for contestants from the pool of celebs that have done DWTS. Six new masked celebs performed last night, and my favorite of Peta’s former partners, Chong, was sent home after an exuberant (but just ok, if we’re being honest) performance of “I Will Survive”…while dressed as a pineapple, I might add 😛 And while only Chong was unmasked, there are four other contestants who may or may not be past DWTS competitors, based on the clues…shall we have a look?

“The Rabbit”

Clues given: has spent most of his life onstage, but never alone; he now “pops up here, and pops up there”; synchronized singing is his forte; he’s performed in a mask before; the last man standing “is gonna be me”

Who it might be: NSYNC member and DWTS season 4 finalist/all-stars contestant Joey Fatone (but I haven’t ruled out JC Chasez as a possibility)

Why: NSYNC had a hit called “It’s Gonna Be Me”; Joey seems to pop up in the most random places anymore (DWTS, hosting game shows, hawking male hair loss products); the only clue that’s throwing me is the straight jacket – yes, NSYNC did a video where they were in an insane asylum for “I Drive Myself Crazy” (which, in retrospect, was in rather poor taste) and they all wore straitjackets, but the cover of JC’s solo album Schizophrenic also features him in a straitjacket. Both men are of similar heights, though Joey seems quite a bit stockier than JC…but who knows.

 

“The Raven”

Clues given: “all my life, I’ve listened to other people’s stories”; always been a “sunny kind of person”; “no one talks more than me”; recently suffered a “tragic loss”, show is giving her the opportunity to “honor my beloved”

Who I’m fairly certain it is: talk show host and DWTS season 13 finalist Ricki Lake

Why: Ricki’s best known as a talk show host, but she also has dabbled in singing/performing – she played Tracy Turnblad in the original movie of Hairspray. Her ex-husband sadly committed suicide in February of 2017.

 

“The Poodle”

Clues given: loves to take on different characters while onstage; lots of clips of San Francisco shown – particularly the Castro District, which is a well-known LGBTQ area; comes from a “musical family”, but “known for a different kind of talent”; “STAND UP!”; pictures of rainbows; “time to return to my musical roots”; “to figure me out, you’re gonna have to WORK!!!”

Who I’m fairly certain it is: comedian and DWTS season 11 contestant Margaret Cho

Why: She’s a stand-up comedian from San Francisco, and has always been outspoken in her support of the LGBTQ community; has actually released an album and can legitimately sing

 

“The Bee”

Clues given: long career, and has never wanted to stop doing what she loves; “you can call me Queen Bee, but ‘Empress’ also suits me”; guys in suits in the background doing synchronized moves to a Motown-sounding track; “looking forward to singing to a new generation”; career started in the ’50s

Who I’m fairly certain it is: R&B legend and DWTS season 14 contestant Gladys Knight

Why: Gladys has been around for awhile, and she first started performing in the 1950s; nickname is the “Empress of Soul”; the Pips were 3 guys who did synchronized dance moves behind Gladys when they were performing

And in case you missed it (and love Chong like I do), here are Chong’s clues and performance:

As for the last remaining contestant, The Alien – still torn on that one, but most folks seem to be guessing Kendall Jenner.  What are your thoughts on the identities of the contestants, both this week’s and last week’s? 😎

I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

DWTS Season 22 Contestant Antonio Brown First Celeb Voted Off “The Masked Singer”; Could More Former DWTS Contestants Be Behind the Masks?

Admittedly, when I saw ads for The Masked Singer on FOX, I didn’t pay it much mind because I thought it would be a one-and-done, mid-season flop. But given that the show premiered Wednesday night to HUGE numbers, I watched the premiere last night on Hulu…and I’ll admit, there is something oddly compelling about it. It’s no Game of Thrones, but there’s something about watching mystery celebs in ridiculous head-to-toe animal costumes singing well-known songs while judges Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Ken Jeong, & DWTS season 10 champ Nicole Scherzinger hem and haw (and often poorly guess) about who they are that’s certainly entertaining.

So what’s this got to do with DWTS, you ask? Well, given that the first celeb voted off was DWTS season 22 contestant (and the inspiration for this blogger’s favorite DWTS hashtag, #ShoshannaWhatSheMissin) Antonio Brown, it stands to reason that other former DWTS contestants might be behind some of the masks as well.  And in the tradition of shows like DWTS, Celebrity Apprentice, and Celebrity Big Brother, you often see the same celebs making the rounds on these shows. Various clues have been given about each of the contestants, including their height (which DWTS fans make a habit of keeping tabs on), and even the costumes themselves supposedly have clues worked into them.  And some of these clues seem to sound an awful like some familiar faces from DWTS…shall we have a look at two former contestants likely hiding behind those masks?

“The Peacock”


Clues given: 5’9″, loves attention, first got onstage at age 5, your mom might have had a poster of him on her bedroom wall, part of a Vegas act, name-dropped Michael Jackson, petted a dog statue

Who I’m fairly certain it is: season 9 champ Donny Osmond

Why: Donny is the original DWTS attention fiend, pre-Alfonso. Singing voice sounds just like Donny, who has had a residency in Vegas for years. Teen idol from my mom’s era; had a hit called “Puppy Love”.  Loves to name-drop. Also, SHORT MAN SYNDROME

“The Lion”

Clues given: “Hollywood royalty”, “embracing vulnerabilities”, 5’6″, “my pride has many women in it”

Who I’m fairly certain it is: season 20 champ Rumer Willis

Why: Obviously the daughter of Bruce Willis & Demi Moore would be considered “Hollywood royalty”. Rumer’s 5’6″ – that I remember from covering season 20. She also talked at-length about her experiences with being bullied and overcoming her insecurities.  It was also pretty well-known that she had singing (*cough* and dancing…*cough*) experience, and she even performed her freestyle to a cover she sang of “Toxic”. Her family is pretty female-dominated – she’s one of three daughters.

And we already know that Antonio was “The Hippo”, but if you want to see his clues and performance, go ahead…


As for the other three contestants we saw this week, Tori Spelling is totally “The Unicorn”, and Terry Bradshaw is “The Deer”.  The only one I’m not feeling certain about is “The Monster” – a lot of folks on Twitter seem to be saying T-Pain, but I’m still feeling kinda “meh” on that one. Honestly, kinda shocked we haven’t seen all three on DWTS at this point…I know Terry’s been a rumor before.  Any bets on whether we see Tori on season 28? 😛

Are any of you watching the show? Thoughts? Guesses on the celebs? If enough of you are interested, I might be persuaded to cover this show regularly… 😉

January 4, 2019 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Alfonso Ribeiro Sues Fortnite Creators Over Their Use of the “Carlton Dance” (POLL)

So, this is admittedly a bit DWTS-adjacent, but given that this topic has somewhat been touched on in the past here (and there’s not much to report on DWTS at the moment, outside of tour updates), I figured “Why not see what our readers think?”

For those of you who haven’t heard, news broke this morning that season 19 DWTS champ Alfonso Ribeiro actually filed two separate lawsuits against Epic Games (the creators of Fortnite) and Take Two Interactive (the creators of the NBA 2K series) for their use of his famous “Carlton Dance”:

Carlton wants his dance back.

Actor Alfonso Ribeiro is suing to stop two video game developers from selling a dance popularized by his “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” character.
In two lawsuits filed Monday, Ribeiro said the companies have “unfairly profited” from using his likeness and from exploiting his “protected creative expression.” The suits name Fortnite developer Epic Games Inc., and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., creator of the NBA 2K series, and several of its subsidiaries.
Epic Games declined to comment on the lawsuit. Take-Two subsidiary 2K Games did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuits ask a California federal court to bar the game developers from using, selling or displaying the dance. The suits state that Ribeiro is in the process of copyrighting the dance.
Ok, so right off the bat, I’ve gotta raise my eyebrows a bit at the fact that Fonz is “in the process of copyrighting the dance”, but doesn’t have it copyrighted YET. I think it might be hard to prove copyright infringement if you don’t even officially own the copyright yet (and the question remains whether you can truly copyright a dance at all – more on that later). I also find the timing a bit curious, as both Fortnite and NBA 2K have been around for over a year (the latter definitely longer, though I don’t know how long they’ve been using the dance), and Fonz is just now slapping them with a suit. But I digress…
…I’ve said more than once that I think copyrighting specific dance moves is a slippery slope – given that dance is an art form that has very much evolved from collaboration and various individual moves slowly becoming widely-known pieces of dance vocabulary, I think granting people the ability to copyright certain moves has a potential chilling effect on dance as a whole. I’m all for people getting credit for their intellectual property, but I think within a dance context that should be applied to entire choreographic works, rather than just specific moves…particularly very simplistic ones, like “The Carlton”, which I think could be argued is a very natural movement that pre-dates Alfonso making it his “thing”. Alfonso has even admitted that he basically came up with the dance just by watching a young Courteney Cox dancing onstage with Bruce Springsteen in the “Dancing in the Dark” video, and imitating Eddie Murphy’s “White People Dance” from his Raw standup performance. All that being said – Alfonso might still have (somewhat of) a leg to stand on.  Check out this post from a trademark lawyer’s website, titled “Can I Trademark a Dance?” – it basically says you can trademark the NAME of a dance, but not necessarily the move itself. So if I’m interpreting it correctly, Alfonso might be able to claim that the move is called “The Carlton” (especially since the Fortnite character that does it supposedly looks a lot like his Fresh Prince character) but I don’t know that he can really claim to have invented the dance and own exclusive rights to it in any capacity. And who the hell knows how you go about monetizing that type of trademark. But here’s where I think it gets even more complicated: I’m not even sure that Alfonso owns the rights to the character of Carlton Banks – it’s hard telling, but I think most of the rights to the characters on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actually belong to Andy & Susan Borowitz, the show’s creators, and to a lesser degree, Benny Medina (whose life experiences the show was loosely based on).  So does he really have the capacity to say “This is the Carlton dance!” when he himself might not even own the rights to the character that performed it…? I dunno…it all seems pretty murky to me, and it seems like a bit of a cash grab on Alfonso’s part.
But what do you guys think? Vote in the poll below and speak your mind in the comments!
December 18, 2018 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS Season 28 Cast Rumors & Watchout: James Hinchcliffe Thinks Fellow Indycar Driver Josef Newgarden Should Do DWTS

I’d categorize this one as “there’s a 50/50 chance between this being a complete joke and a legitimate possibility”, given the parties involved 😉

Hinch has said in multiple interviews since his time on DWTS that he’d “love to see Josef Newgarden do DWTS” – I believe he even mentioned it in a Facebook live with Sharna once, and Sharna was onboard with the idea.  Josef’s a fellow Indycar driver (a pretty successful one, too – he won the 2017 Indycar Series Championship), and is considered a sort of Indycar heartthrob – several of the drivers like to joke that he should be a Disney prince or in a boyband. He’s also a goofy guy and doesn’t seem to worry too much about “being cool”, so he’s uninhibited enough to give DWTS a shot, I think.

Well the other day Josef retweeted a gif of himself busting a move on the bricks at IMS (which was actually cropped from a YouTube video of him during the “Harlem Shake” dance craze five years ago), and this is how things went down:

Now while Josef might be kidding (or semi-kidding), I think Hinch is serious – and I think that Josef would actually be a wise casting move on ABC’s part. Charming, attractive, boyish young guy that doesn’t take himself too seriously and isn’t afraid to let loose and give himself over to the experience? That’s practically catnip to DWTS viewers these days (hello, Milo). And given that ABC has time to pin down the next cast (and reeeeallllly needs to focus on getting a quality cast to redeem themselves from the fiasco of season 27), I think they ought to look into Josef – Hinch ended up being wildly popular despite being a relative unknown headed into his season, and Josef is at least semi-well-known.

Thoughts?

December 17, 2018 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS: Academy Changes Rules for Outstanding Choreography Category – What Does This Mean for DWTS?

Probably not much, in the great scheme of things…but it might *slightly* improve the chances of DWTS getting a nomination:

Restructured Choreography Categories

There will be two separate juried awards:

Outstanding Choreography for Variety and Reality Programming (Variety Series, Variety Special, Structured Reality, Unstructured Reality and Competition Program)
Outstanding Choreography for Scripted Programming (Comedy Series, Drama Series, Limited Series and Television Movie)

There were several other changes made to other categories, such as a minimum length for the Outstanding TV Movie category and a new sound mixing category, per Deadline.  The other rule change which could affect DWTS’ eligibility for nominations involves the “hanging episode” rule, which allows for the submission of certain episodes airing outside the designated eligibility period:

Hanging Episode Eligibility

Eligibility changed from “airing prior to the nomination-round voting deadline” to
“airing prior to the start of nomination-round voting.”

Addendum to Hanging Episode Rule:

Programmed networks may post episodes on a distribution platform in advance of
the episodes’ airdates in cases where they otherwise would be “hanging” or
ineligible because they are scheduled outside the eligibility period. Posting must
meet the following criteria:

● Episodes must be posted within the current eligibility year (i.e., by May 31).
● Episodes may be posted on a private distribution platform accessible only to
Television Academy membership.
● Episodes must be the same in form and content as they will later appear in
their regular time slots.
● The subsequent airing of the episodes must take place within the month of
June.

So what do the above rule changes mean for DWTS? Given that the choreography category has now been split into reality and scripted, it may free up a slot or two for nominations from reality dance shows, since there have been a few rogue nominations from scripted shows (notably Smash, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and The Real O’Neals) that have snuck into the category in recent years and given SYTYCD & DWTS a run for their money.  That being said, I’m not sure there was anything particularly noteworthy, choreography-wise, on DWTS this past season (two seasons if you count Juniors) that would be able to stand up to Nigel’s relentless nomination campaigning over at SYTYCD, or some of the genius work coming out of WOD (though they were notably snubbed this past year, likely owing to Nigel’s aforementioned campaigning). As for the scripted category, I have a feeling it’s probably going to be pretty small – maybe only 2-3 nominations – and if there’s a contender for a winner in that category, I think it might be this surprisingly edgy dance from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – can’t remember who tweeted me this (Tres? Robbie?) but it’s a gem:

As for the hanging nomination rule, it won’t affect DWTS this time around, as there’s no spring season that might miss the deadline…but who knows what the future holds.

Thoughts?

December 14, 2018 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

PureDWTS DWTS Juniors Season 1 – Court’s Season 1 Post-Mortem: What Worked, What Needs Work, Some Tea, and Final Thoughts

So here it is – my high-level thoughts on the season as a whole.  Some of you have been asking for “more tea”, which is kinda tough because there’s not really so much to be had on Juniors 😛 But I did the best I could…

Some tea:

There was no bonus or cash prize for the winner. You heard right: Sky & JT didn’t receive any additional cash bonus or other compensation for winning Juniors.  The prize was literally just the trophy and bragging rights – all the kids got paid by the episode, and were paid the same fee per episode they appeared on. It’s a rather refreshing, egalitarian take that we don’t really see on the main show, where winners & finalists get bonuses for winning or just sticking around longer, and celebs play hardball with contracts so bigger names can negotiate more money for appearing on the show. And I think the lack of cash motivation allowed the kids to do the show for the right reasons – they weren’t in it for the money, but for the experience.

If there had been an elimination in the semifinals, it was allegedly Ariana & Artyon that would have gotten sent home. Part of me wonders if they opted to do a 4-couple finale because Ariana & Artyon were such firecrackers – of the 4 finalists, they were probably the most energetic, and offered a nice balance with Sky & JT being adorable and Kenzie & Sage and Miles & Rylee being more mature and subdued.

Tripp apparently had no idea he was even doing DWTS Juniors until the day of the first rehearsal. Contrary to what some rogue Palin fans have tried to claim, Tripp allegedly had no idea he was doing the show until the morning of his first rehearsal with Hailey & Jenna, per source who saw the first rehearsal tape.  Talk about an awkward (and potentially traumatic) introduction.  I guess Mama Bristol made all the arrangements for him to be on the show and then just didn’t tell him until it was too late to back out. So the permanent bewildered expression the poor kid had on his face the whole time he was on screen? It makes sense now, given the context.

Source isn’t 100% sure the voting clickers the audience used to vote were even working properly for most of the season. Apparently the handy-dandy “clicker remotes” the eligible audience members were given to vote with at the end of each show were a crapshoot most of the time – on premiere night, the crew ended up frantically handing out pencils and paper to about half the audience because they couldn’t get the clickers to work (confirmed by someone who was in the audience the night they taped the premiere).  The issues apparently continued for most of the season – source “was not entirely sure” the voting was even working properly in the finals, as the remotes were pretty low-tech (those of you who’ve been in college in the last 20-odd years – think of the remote controls you used to record attendance for your big lectures). Now before any of you start crying foul, some perspective: given that there was no cash prize involved, TPTB were not bound by the same laws that prevent the regular version of DWTS (which DOES have a cash prize) from “rigging the votes”. And per the source, the audience support for Sky was overwhelming – even if all the clickers stopped working, I think it would have been obvious based on applause and cheers who the favorite was. It might have caused problems with determining how the other three placed, though, which could explain why it wasn’t announced.  With that in mind…

Who finished 2nd, 3rd, & 4th? Per source, they were never told how everyone placed in the finals, aside from Sky & JT winning – and I’m fine with that, as I don’t really see the value in knowing how they ranked otherwise.  They all made the finals; that’s something to be commended, and if I were one of those kids and I ended up in 4th place, I’d feel pretty bummed. THAT BEING SAID – many of you have asked how I think they placed, so here’s my take: given that Ariana allegedly was low-kid on the totem pole and in danger of elimination during the semis, and given that she & Artyon were arguably the weakest performance-wise on finale night, I’m going to venture a guess that she would have probably ended up in 4th place. Source said audience support for Kenzie & Miles at the finale seemed neck-and-neck, but I’d give Miles a slight edge given that he danced later in the show and had probably the two strongest routines, choreography and performance-wise – so I’d put him in 2nd place; I think Kenzie probably ended up 3rd, as the favorite dance with Gleb seemed to fall a bit flat and going first never seems to bode well for those in the finals.

What worked:

Having the regular pros as mentors. It gave me some serious warm fuzzies seeing how into coaching the pros got, and how extraordinarily proud they were of their teams. Loved seeing moments where they were genuinely moved by their junior teams, and seeing how their junior teams idolized them. It also gave the pros a chance to show off their choreography chops in a new way (choreographing for kids is a different ballgame than choreographing for adults!) without having to worry about performing it themselves. This is closer to how it works in the “real life” ballroom world: competing couples don’t usually choreograph themselves – they hire an outside choreographer for that part, and they just perform it. With the exception of one pro (Gleb, who I think is a lazy, self-interested choreographer that needs to seek outside help more often), I think all the pros handled the whole experience beautifully. Stand-outs for me personally were Lindsay (who I felt was the most consistent in delivering appropriate-yet-inspired choreo that suited her juniors), Brandon (who got to show us what he’s capable of, choreography-wise, and what he can do when given an energetic pair to coach), Alan (who seemed to really bond with his pair, and show us a nuturing “Papa Bear” side), Artem (who took a junior pairing that, on paper, looked hopeless, and turned them into a respectable team), and Emma (whose choreo was both creative and really suited her pair well).

The junior pros. I think every last one of them was brilliant, in terms of skill – I’ve talked with Justin about this a few times, but the group they chose is really reflective of the next generation of professional dancers: they’re all impressively cross-trained, and seem to pick up new styles with incredible ease.  They’re also all born performers, and seem to have never encountered stage fright in their life. Ones to watch: Kamri (who I think could be the next Maddie Ziegler – perhaps even eclipsing her in talent and charisma) and Artyon (he came into this season with no ballroom experience, picked it up impressively well, and made up for any other shortcomings with a strong sense of showmanship).

The theme nights. While this is usually something I complain about on the regular version, I thought the themes were well-chosen and offered a decent framework for the kids to work their routines around – and there’s something to be said for watching kids throw themselves headlong into Disney and holiday-themed routines 🙂 The themes were appropriate and they were ones the kids seemed to really get into – so I’m good with it.

Mandy as a judge. At times, it felt like Mandy was the only one on the judging panel that could come up with a concise, coherent, and pertinent critique for the teams – while I didn’t always agree with her 100%, I thought she was at the very least trying to be constructive (and specific enough for the kids to actually understand) and supportive of the kids at the same time. It’s a delicate balance, and I think she’s the only judge on the panel that carried it off consistently.

Frankie & Jordan as hosts. I think Frankie handled the main hosting role with incredible ease, while still being approachable to the kids and having a fun-loving vibe about him.  I know some of you thought Frankie came off as “awkward”, but I thought his vibe was perfect for the show – the kids aren’t terribly articulate or polished, why should Frankie be? 🙂 And I love the way Frankie & Jordan vibed off of each other – there was a definite synergy there, likely formed during their own season and their time out on tour together.

 

What needs work:

Adam as a judge. Sorry, Adam fans – while I adore him as a person, I just don’t know that I think he’s well-suited to the judging panel of this show.  I felt at times that he was more interested in showboating and coming up with gif-worthy phrases than he was giving more concrete, useful critiques. Or maybe he actually gave them, and they were just edited out for time.  Who knows – but if he was just hired to be less relevant, more flamboyant version of Bruno, and they didn’t much care about him actually legitimately judging, then why not just change that third judge’s chair into a rotating guest judging position? It would at the very least offer up some variety – I’d love to see Rashad step in to judge the kids, maybe Kenny Ortega…there’s tons of possibilities.

The length of the show.  I doubt there’s much that can be done about this one, but I feel like even extending the show by a half hour could go a long way in slowing down the sometimes breakneck pace at which the episodes seemed to move. Or, if they can’t increase the show to 90 minutes, at least decrease the number of couples or turn the episodes in multi-part ones – maybe when they’re in the early weeks with a lot of couples, let six of them dance one week, and the other six the following week? At least until they whittle down to a more manageable number.

The voting process.  As mentioned above – the clickers need work. I don’t think a live, public vote is necessary in this instance (a la the main show), but at the very least, invest in some more reliable technology.

Kenzie as a contestant. I feel bad putting this one here, because it’s not necessarily Kenzie’s fault per se, but I felt like she (and Sage) stuck out like a sore thumb among the contestants: they looked far older, more mature, and more professional than the rest of the couples.  And I always felt like Kenzie was performing as if this was a job, rather than an opportunity; while all the other kids were out there really letting loose and having fun, Kenzie felt more controlled and detached, as if she was dancing to collect a paycheck rather than to have a good time.  I think part of what appealed to a lot of us was just how down-to-earth and genuine Juniors was compared to the regular show: there wasn’t an agenda, there wasn’t the usual pretense and posturing and ulterior motives from both the judges and celebs; it was just good clean fun. And Kenzie’s presence on Juniors felt a bit more like a calculated career move, like something we’d see on the regular show – that, and the fact that the show as a whole seemed to be trying to downplay her dance experience. The whole thing just seemed to be a bit at odds with the tone of the show, in general.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS: I think Juniors ended up being a real feather in DWTS’s cap – and I think it hearkened back to a simpler, more wholesome era of DWTS for many of us, when the show didn’t feel so blatantly manipulated and commercial. Kids don’t understand (or care) how to manipulate a viewing audience – they were all there to just have fun, and they threw themselves headlong into it without hesitation.  What I wouldn’t give to see some more of that unbridled, genuine zeal on the adult version of the show! I don’t think Juniors has been fast-tracked to cancellation yet – while ratings may not have been as impressive as the ones the main version pulls in (or did at one time…), it may be perfect for a Friday time slot, when expectations are low and they might be able to grab a larger cross-section of that coveted 18-34 demo, since it’s not a school night. I think it’s also good to keep in mind that it’s a much cheaper show to produce than the original – pre-taping everything over the course of a month and not offering huge cash bonuses goes a long way in keeping overhead costs down (and the show around longer).  Remember: if they’re gonna cancel Juniors, they’ve first gotta come up with something better/cheaper to take its place.

Anyone else have any final thoughts they’d like to share? Recommendations for how to improve the show?

I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog