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DWTS 13: Tristan MacManus

Do you like Irish accents? You might swoon when you hear Tristan MacManus speak. He was born in Dublin and competed around Europe in Juvenile, Junior and Amateur competions.

Appearing in “Ella Enchanted,” he performed in theater productions, including “Oliver!” and “Aladdin,” but his big break was when he joined the UK tour of “Simply Ballroom” in London and our own Las Vegas. He then became a featured dancer for “Burn the Floor.”

“Burn the Floor” is still touring, currently in Europe. The show is about the ten dances that have been danced in competition since 1920 as international style. The five standard ballroom dances are: waltz, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, tango and quickstep.  The other five are considred the Latin dances: cha cha, samba, paso doble, rumba and jive.

For a while he was teaching ballroom and Latin dancing in Boston (at the SuperShag Dance Studios in Charleston) as he recovered from a knee injury, but was in the cast of “Dirty Dancing” as a dance captain. By this we don’t mean the Patrick Swayze movie, but the musical production. The musical stage version premiered in Australia in 2004 and went to the West end in London in 2006. The West End production just closed in July 2011 after a five-year-run.

MacManus was part of the DWTS troupe last season.


DWTS 13: Peta Murgatroyd

Heavens to Murgatroyd! What to do when your celebrity partner decides his name doesn’t have enough Q-factor and changes it just weeks before the show begins? That’s the kind of problem Peta Murgatroyd faces when she debuts as a professional dancer assigned to the NBA small forward formerly known as Ron Artest.

Artest has gone artistic and while it might have worked for Prince when he took on a symbol, will Artest’s new moniker, Metta World Peace,” gain fans or drive them away. MWP is similar to MVP, but is MWP looking to become a pro wrestler? Or is he just ready to begin name dropping? MWP took Lakers number 37  because Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album was No. 1 on the charts for 37 straight weeks. Wonder if this means Murgatroyd is working on a  “Thriller” dance routine for MWP.

Murgatroyd was born in Auckland, New Zealand. The originally trained to be a ballet dancer, even studying with the Kirov Ballet, but she switched to ballroom and in three months became the Australian State Champion. She placed third in the world at the British Youth Latin Championships in 2006.

Before that, she was making a name for herself at a cast member for “Burn the Floor” in 2004.  Murgatroyd traveled to 30 countries and 160 cities as part of the cast and was on Broadway when the show opened in August 2009.  Murgatroyd is in Los Angeles to find opportunity in film and television.

Chaz Bono, Renee Richards and transsexual rights

When I first learned that Chaz Bono was one of the celebrities competing on this season’s “Dancing with the Stars” I was disappointed. Where is a Renee Richards when you need her?

Renee Richards, is, I learned from Wikipedia, still alive and well. The 6-foot-2 left-handed former professional tennis player is now 77. She retired from playing tennis in 1981. Her highest ranking was number 20 in February 1979.

Richards was born Richard Raskind in New York City and as Richard, he played tennis, making the top 10 Eastern and the National juniors. He was captain of the Horace Mann School tennis team during high school and when he was 15, he won the Eastern Private Schools interscholastic  singles. From there, he went on to Yale where he competed on the singles tennis team and, in 1954, he was captain.

Richards attended medical school and served in the U.S. Navy as an officer (lieutenant commander) and became an opthamologist. He did marry and have a son, but in 1975, he transitioned with the help of surgery, into a new life as Renee Richards, a woman.

Richards sued the U.S. Tennis Associatin after being barred from playing as a woman at the U.S. Open in 1976 and won the right to play in 1977. She coached Martina Navratilova. Richards wrote two autobiographies, the 1986 “Second Serve” (in the 1986 TV movie Vanessa Redgrave played Richards) and the 2007 “No Way Renee: The Second Half of My Notorious Life.” Like Chaz Bono, Richards has a documentary about her life, simply called “Renée” that premiered in April.

Chaz Bono was born Chastity Sun Bono to Sonny Bono and Cher. Bono legally completed his transition to male in May of last year to be renamed Chaz Salvatore Bono and his documentary “Becoming Chaz” premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Oprah Winfrey’s Network owns the rights to the Emmy-nominated documentary which aired this year in May. Bono’s latest book “Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man” also came out in May.

Bono is 42 and not in particularly good shape. Having written two books, the 1998 “Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians and their Families” and the 2003 “The End of Innocence,” Bono is a prominent member of the LGBT community,and has served as the Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, but much of his fame or Q score is reflected glory from his parents.

Since DWTS decided to go international (think Gilles Marini or Heather Mills or this season’s Elisabetta Canalis), why not Dana International (Sharon Cohen), an Israeli pop singer who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 with the song “Diva”? She’s one of Israel’s most successful musical acts and represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011. At 39, International has a successful career and looks to be in better shape than Chaz Bono.

And what about Nong Tum, a male-to-female transgendered person, who is also a former Thai boxing champion, model and actor. In 2003, Nong Tum’s story was made into a movie “Beautiful Boxer.” Her story was included in the book, “Ladyboys: The Secret of Thailand’s Third Gender” and the 2003 National Geographic documentary “Hidden Genders.”  She was in the 2006 “Mercury Man.”

DWTS had Mark Dacascos on during season 9 (paired with Lacey Schwimmer). The current trend in street dancing includes a heavy martial arts influence and Dacascos brought a lot of martial arts flair and fun to his dancing.

As the first amputee, Heather Mills (McCartney) was physically fit although because of her dubious personal life Mills was not a fan favorite. Her claim to celebrity was officially charity campaigner and not Paul McCartney’s soon-to-be ex or reviled gold digger.

Sure Elisabetta Canalis is good-looking, but as an actress and model, the 32-year-old has the 2005 “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” as her biggest U.S. audience credit. She’s also a recurring character in the TNT drama series “Leverage” but perhaps her relationship with George Clooney which officially ended in June of this year is what gives her a Q-score.

For the first transgender/transsexual DWTS contestant, I have preferred Nong Tum or Dana International to Chaz Bono because I think they are famous in their own right and because they would have been physically better contenders for the mirrorball. At 77,  Renée Richards might be considered a little old to take to the dance floor although during season 7, Cloris Leachman was 82 (paired with Corky Ballas).  A 77-year-old Richards would have been a phenomenal choice given her athletic ability and career and athletic achievements.

The American Family Association has initiated a boycott against DWTS. GMA took an exclusive interview, but the interviewer was under-prepared. (Really, he asked what Chaz Bono’s best dance was at this stage?!). They note that the skimpy costumes and provocative dance routines had already turned away viewers, but not the inclusion of former Playboy Playmates and Hugh Hefner and even his former girlfriends?

They found the inclusion of Carson Kressley and Chaz Bono as “completely unacceptable and Christians should not watch the show, no excuses!”

Chaz Bono might be an excuse for the whole cast to break out into Rocky Horror-esque routines because fellow cast member David Arquette has experience playing Dr. Frank-n-Furter for the on-stage musical “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”  Wouldn’t that be a Halloween scream?

This season, I think Carson Kressley will add entertainment value and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does. But I don’t consider Chaz Bono the best choice for the show’s first transsexual celebrity contestant because I’d rather have a person who looked like he or she had more dancing potential, but perhaps Bono will surprise us all.

DWTS season 13 cast?

BURBANK, Los Angeles, CA–ABC will be announcing the next celebrity cast for season 13 of “Dancing with the Stars”  Monday, 29 August 2011, during that evening’s episode of their sleazy “Bachelor Pad.” Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke once again host the live unveiling of the all-star cast, but just who will fill all those categories?

Fans have been asked to suggest their ideal DWTS cast members on the discussion boards. The official categories are: Actor/Actress, Singer, Athlete, Reality Star, Comedian, Model and Other, but in reality, there are those other categories that perhaps is covered by “Other” such as the Disney star, Playboy porn star, older celebrity and ringer?

ABC and Disney are essentially the same company. ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company as part of the Disney-ABC Television Group (ABC Television Network including ABC Daytime, ABC Entertainment Group and ABC News divisions; the Disney Channels Worldwide global kids’ TV business including  Playhouse Disney and Disney XD; ABC Family and SOAPnet; television distribution divisions Disney-ABC Domestic Television and Disney ABC ESPN Television).

DWTS recently had Kyle Massey from the Disney Channel “That’s So Raven” and the spin-off “Cory in the House.” Massey was paired with Lacey Schwimmer during season 11 and finished second.  Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough finished first. Massey is one of the featured voices on the Disney Channel animated TV series “Fish Hooks” along with Chelsea Kane. Kane finished third on season 12 of DWTS. Kane’s partner was Mark Ballas.

Usually a former or current Playboy “model” is included although that can backfire. Holly Madison from Playboy’s “The Girl Next Door” as one of Hugh Hefner’s girlfriends was on season 8 and was the third celebrity eliminated (after Belinda Carlisle and Denise Richards).  Her partner was Dmitry Chaplin. Kendra Wilkinson also a former Hugh Hefner girlfriend and a star of “The Girls Next Door” competed last season. Wilkinson with her partner Louis van Amstel was the 6th celebrity eliminated. Both Madison and Wilkinson could be regarded as reality stars. Pamela Anderson was also a former Playboy-related star although she had also been on regular network TV programs (“Home Improvement” and “Baywatch”). Anderson who was partnered with Damian Whitewood wasn’t popular with the DWTS fans and finished sixth. Then there was Joanna Krupa for season 9 who partnered with Derek Hough to finish fourth.

Then there’s always the older celebrity. Keep in mind that the oldest winner to date was Donny Osmond at 51 with his partner Kym Johnson. He wasn’t the oldest celebrity during season  nine. That was Tom DeLay who had to withdraw due to injuries. DeLay is a decade older than Osmond. The oldest woman to win was Jennifer Grey at 50 with her partner Mark Ballas during season 11. The oldest competitor during season 11 was Florence Henderson who was partnered with Corky Ballas.

During season 12, Kirstie Alley was the oldest competitor at 60 and the most overweight. But Alley and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy showed they could make magic on stage and Alley finished several pounds lighter in third place. She’s the oldest celebrity to make it to the finals.

We expect there to be a football star, particularly after Hines Ward won last season and proved to be quite nimble on his feet. His partner was Kym Johnson. Even when former football players aren’t very good (remember Michael Irvin during season 9?) the fans support them further than the judges scores alone would. So we suspect that the cast will include a football star (current or retired) and another athlete, mostly likely one with Olympic competition status.

We also feel that political figures have proven to be popular. Think of Tom DeLay. Imagine how far he could have gone with all his political friends voting for him? Bristol Palin with her partner Mark Ballas proved to be so popular that despite low judges scores, she made it to the finals while Brandy and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy finished fourth. That’s not so surprising when you consider that no black woman has ever won DWTS.

There are already over a thousand comments. Suggested stars include:

  • Justin Bieber (Singer)
  • Bruce Boxleitner (“Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and “Babylon 5” and “Tron”)
  • Linda Carter (“Wonder Woman”)
  • Phoebe Cates (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Gremlins”)
  • Miley Cyrus (Singer)
  • Barbara Eden (“I Dream of Jeannie”)
  • Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia from “Star Wars”)
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”)
  • Bruce Jenner (Gold medalist for decathlon in the Montreal 1976 Summer Olympics)
  • Don Johnson (“Miami Vice” and “Nash Bridges”)
  • Engelbert Humperdinck (singer who is 75 years old)
  • Donna Mills (“Knott’s Landing”)
  • Alfonso Ribeira (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”)
  • Stephanie Powers (“Hart to Hart”)
  • Raven Symone (“The Cosby Show,” “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” and the Disney show “That’s So Raven.”)
  • Kathleen Turner (“Body Heat,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Romancing the Stone” and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”)
  • Lindsay Wagner (“Bionic Woman”)

The stars, the drama, the glamour and the glitter are back on ABC! “Dancing with the Stars” returns for Season 13 on Monday, 19 September 2011 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) with a sensational two-hour season premiere.

On Tuesday, 20 September, there will be two hours of original programming, beginning with “Dancing with the Stars: Meet the Cast” (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET), followed by the premiere of “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show” (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET).

Hosted by Tom Bergeron (“America’s Funniest Home Videos”) and Brooke Burke (“Dancing with the Stars” Season Seven Champion), “Dancing with the Stars” is the hit series in which celebrities perform choreographed dance routines which are judged by renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.

Who do you want to see on DWTS?