Peta Murgatroyd talks about this season of “Dancing with the Stars”

Peta Murgatroyd is a New Zealand born dancer who has been performing since the early age of 4. Peta has danced and competed all over the world and in 2004 she joined the cast of “Burn the Floor” on Broadway.  Peta is probably best known as part of the cast of the popular television show “Dancing with the Stars” where she has been partnered up with everyone from Metta World Peace to Donald Driver. She currently is dancing with Big Time Rush singer James Maslow on season 18 of the series. Media Mikes had the chance recently to speak with Peta about the show and her dancing career.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what first sparked you interest in dancing?
Peta Murgatroyd: I started ballet when I was 4 years old. I think that is something every mother starts out wanting their daughter to do. They want them to learn to be pretty and beautiful. I ended up absolutely falling in love with it and by 10 I knew that’s what I wanted to do as a career. I auditioned for the top ballet company in Perth, Australia and was accepted. During this time I changed schools and started attending a performing arts school. I had to make a lot of changes at this stage in my life. By the time I was 17 I was competing around the world and from there I started learning ball room dancing. I landed a spot in a show on Broadway which ended in 2009. After doing that for 6 years I felt I was at my peak and that it would be a good time/place to stop. I ended up turning to television and here I am.

AL: Was there ever a time early on in your career where you felt that maybe dancing wasn’t the right path for you?
PM: Absolutely! There were many times where I questioned not only myself but also my family as well. All of these things cost a lot of money. We were not poor but classes and everything were very expensive. I often had a job waitressing to help pay for some of my dresses and such. I often thought about if what I was doing was the right thing and if dancing was something I could make a career of. I always made sure that I did well with my schooling because I was just unsure as what was going to happen. I actually tried to give up my schooling at one point but my parents wouldn’t let me. I was traveling all over the world dancing while also studying for all of my classes and exams. In the end I put everything into dancing as I realized how much I did love it.

Photo Credit: ABC

AL: How did you first get involved with “Dancing with the Stars”?
PM: The show was actually on in Australia and they had asked me to be on it however I wasn’t sure If I wanted to give up what I was doing at that time to be on a reality television show. That was just a lot to take on at a young age. When I was on Broadway the producers of “Dancing with the Stars” came to one of the performances and afterwards immediately handed me a contract to be on the show. That was pretty awesome! I didn’t have to audition or anything which was really cool. I let the first season go by as I wanted to watch how the show worked here in the U.S. My boyfriend at the time was actually on the show so I was able to watch him and really get a good idea of how things worked before I started on the next season.

AL:  What do you feel is the biggest challenge when getting paired up with your partner for the first time?
PM: There are lots of little challenges along the way but probably the biggest thing is just getting to know your partner and how they work with a woman in a room for six hours a day. (Laughs) Sometimes I might not know a lot about my partner beforehand so I look them up on Google. It’s really great to see how far you can push your partner and help them become a better dancer and progress through the contest week after week.

AL: Can you give us a little bit of an idea as to what goes on behind the scenes during the show?
PM: I wish they showed more of the rehearsal time. A lot of what they show is just a minute or two from a week’s worth of rehearsal. The producers choose those scenes and a lot of times they are trying to follow a story line. There is just so much more that goes on and there are a lot of funny moments that happen. They often tend to follow just one emotion. With me they tend to follow more of my serious side. That’s just one piece of my personality. I am always goofing and like to have a lot of fun. I wish the viewers could see all the different emotions and fun we have leading up to each performance.

AL: Are you working on any other projects after this season of the show wraps up?
PM: I am going to be performing for a week in Canada as part of a theater show there. I have a number of appearances and little shows booked here and there but my main focus after this season ends is to continue on with my acting. When I’m not working on the show that’s my time to go through scripts and go on auditions. When I am working on “Dancing with the Stars” I really have no time for anything else.

AL: Were you always interested in perusing acting alongside dancing?
PM: Acting was something that I always wanted to do and explore. I have found that I really enjoy character dances. I found I really know how to get into a character and I love the acting side of things.  Acting is certainly still new to me and I have been taking classes and working with a private coach to help me get stronger. Acting is something I would love to be able to crossover in to.

Book Review “No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes”

“No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes”
Author: Amy Yates Wuelfing, Steven DiLodovico
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: DiWulf Publishing

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes” is an oral history of ’80s-era alternative, metal and punk rock music told through the portal of one club – Trenton, New Jersey’s legendary City Gardens. From Punk to Metal, from Ska and Reggae, New Wave and Alternative, if there was a band you dug through the 80′s and 90′s that never made the commercial airwaves, there’s a good chance they played at City Gardens.

Written by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico “No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes” is a gritty multi perspective book that tells the tales of the fabled City Garden’s music venue which throughout the 80’s and 90’s was the only reason to travel to Trenton, NJ. As you delve through the books countless pages you will be able to better understand my previous statement as its wonder anyone went there at all. The book is jammed full of pictures and stories from the people who not only worked at the venue, but performed there and/or were just one of the many regulars who attended shows ranging from The Ramones and Butthole Surfers to Nine Inch Nails and the clubs famous 95 cent Thursday dance night. The book does a great job depicting an era when music was still raw and people went to shows to actually hear music not because it was the cool or trendy thing to do. Not only does it detail a good number of the shows held at the venue but it goes a step further by giving you when possible both artist and audience perspectives of the same event and if there were colorful things going on behind the scenes staff stories are added to serve as the proverbial icing on the cake.

Even if you never attended the venue or knew of its existence “No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes” is a must read! The book grabs your attention and transports you back to a time when the underground music scene was raw and untainted and when people went to shows to actually check out new bands and not just because it was the “cool” thing to be doing.

Jaleel White reflects on “Dancing with the Stars” & Syfy’s “Total Blackout”

Jaleel White recently competed on season 14 “Dancing with the Stars”. He also hosted Syfy’s new reality game show “Total Blackout”. Media Mikes had a chance to catch up with Jaleel again in order to reflect on his experiences with “Dancing with the Stars” & Syfy’s “Total Blackout”.

Mike Gencarelli: Can you reflect back on your work on “Dancing with the Stars”?
Jaleel White: The last eleven weeks have been unlike anything I have ever experienced in my career. It’s been hard on the body and very chaotic. People also ask me “Was it fun?” and I tell them “If you ran two marathon’s back-to-back, would you consider that fun” [laughs]. That is how I feel about “Dancing with the Stars”, I have survived some pretty awesome shit. I didn’t fall on my ass out there. Everywhere I go people said they were happy to see my dances and that makes me proud. The training was a lot but it was all necessary. My highlight was the cha-cha week, I knew it wasn’t going to get much better than that.

MG: Do you think that the judges where too hard on you throughout the show?
JW: Look, I am so proud of what I survived. I don’t want to be negative, especially because of how proud I am. Also nobody has ever met the five secret men that handle the fans votes. Since no one has ever met them I will not let it get to me [laughs]. After about week three, I stopped caring about the score to be honest.

MG: Any chance of you coming back for season 15 this Fall for the All-Stars season?
JW: I haven’t been approached or anything. I know the competition was tough enough. I do not know how being elimated in the seventh week makes me an all-star but I learned never to say never.

MG: Are you excited with the success of “Total Blackout”?
JW: I am very happy with that way that “Total Blackout” came out. It is very rare that I can say that about something I had so little to do with in the post-production phases. We have been able to build on the ratings week-to-week, so its been great for us.

MG: I got to tell you my sister ordered Syfy just so that she could watch your show.
JW: [laughs]. You gotta write that in your article. I can’t say anything as cool as that.

MG: Any word about a second season for “Total Blackout”?
JW: No word just yet. I have not been in the game show business for too long but I pick up on things quickly. My only concern about the show is that I know contestants get smarter. Even though the lights are off, we will have contestants that will have seen the show and once they know what game they are playing will go back to a mental picture. So they are really going to have to work hard to stay away from contestants looking to outsmart the show and also to keep the show fresh and moving forward.

Blu-ray Review “Dirty Dancing 2-Film Collection”

Directed by: Emile Ardolino, Guy Ferland
Starring: Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Romola Garai, Diego Luna
Number of discs: 2
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: Lions Gate
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Running Time: 191 minutes

Films: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4 out of 5 stars

After the 2007 Blu-ray release of “Dirty Dancing” and its terrible transfer, I was hoping this one was going to be a great improvement.  I won’t say I had the time of my life reviewing these…but it was better than carrying a watermelon.  Overall, it is much better and, if you consider this is a bonus, it also comes with the sequel, “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”, which is available for the first time ever on Blu-ray. With two films, a whole mess of special features and a ridiculous low price of $14.99, this is a no-brainer if you don’t already own the film on Blu-ray.

The Blu-ray presentation on both films looks good in 1080p high-def transfer and both with widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  The audio on both films are also very impressive boasting a sharp 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  While it is not the best 7.1 track ever, I am impressed that Lionsgate hooked these films up. “Dirty Dancing” also packs an alternate audio track, Dolby Digital EX 5.1.

The special feature for “Dirty Dancing” are fantastic, though nothing new for this 25th anniversary release. There are two audio commentary tracks from writer Eleanor Bergstein which dates back to the original DVD and the second commentary track from the Ultimate Edition DVD release with Choreographer Kenny Ortega, Assistant Choreographer Miranda Garrison, Cinematographer Jeff Jur, Costume Designer Hilary Rosenfeld, and Production Designer David Chapman.  Both are decent but kind of dated.  There is a text-based copy of the entire “Dirty Dancing” script from writer Eleanor Bergstein.  There is an interview with Miranda Garrison, who played Vivian Pressman and served as assistant choreographer for the film. “Dirty Dancing: Live in Concert” is fun feature just to watch fro the 80’s fashion.

There a bunch of featurettes including on this release including “Kellerman’s: Reliving the Locations of the Film” features crew revisiting shooting locations.  “The Dirty Dancing Phenomenon” takes an inside look with interviews through the success of the film.  “The Rhythm of the Dancing” features Swayze discusses the music in the film. “Dancing to the Music” focuses on the film’s music and dancing. Lastly, there is also a vintage featurette to show take you back to when “Dirty Dancing” was in theaters.

“In Memoriam” looks at the cast that has since passed including Jerry Orbach, Jack Weston, Emile Ardolino, Max Cantor, and Patrick Swayze.  The late Patrick Swayze discusses the impact the film had on his life in “Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze”.   There are some retro interviews with Jennifer Grey, Eleanor Bergstein and Kenny Ortega. There are two “The Life” and “Everybody Dance” presented in “Multi-Angle Dance Sequences” with four different angles. There are Screen Test Montage with Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey and also Screen Test Comparisons with Jennifer Gray. There are eleven deleted scenes adding up to about twelve minutes.  There are three alternate scenes and also seven extended scenes. There is also a short outtakes, running only about 30 seconds.  Worth checking out if you love this film but most likely you would have see on past releases.  Easily my favorite feature is the music videos for this including “Hungry Eyes”, “She’s Like the Wind”, and “The Time of my Life”. Lastly there is a photo gallery, a fan reel,  theatrical trailer and full-feature trivia track.

The special features on “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” don’t compare to the first film’s but is not bare either.  There is a decent commentary track from producer Sarah Green and choreographer JoAnn Jansen. We are giving the option for multi-angle on a few dance sequences.  There are a few deleted scenes included.  There are featurettes, the first “Inside Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” including interviews with cast/crew.  The other featurette, “Baila! A Dance Piece” is a split-screen view of the rehearsals to the final scene. There is a music video for Yerba Buena’s “Guajira”.  Lastly there is Facebook credits included for the “Dirty Dancing Facebook Game”.

Jaleel White talks about “Dancing with the Stars” & Syfy’s “Total Blackout”

Jaleel White known best for his role of Steve Urkel on “Family Matters” though 2012 is shaping up to be one spotlight year for him.  He is one of the contestants on season 14 of “Dancing with The Stars”, dancing with Kym Johnson. He is also the host of the upcoming SyFy’s reality show “Total Blackout”, which premieres April 25th.  Jaleel took out some time to chat with Media Mikes again about his work on “Dancing with the Stars” and to encourage his fans to vote for him at 1-800-VOTE4-12.

Mike Gencarelli: So tell us how you got involved with “Dancing with the Stars”?
Jaleel White: They never formally asked me before until this past year.  ABC’s casting department got in contact with my manager properly and asked for a meeting. [laughs] I didn’t want to take the meeting but my manager let me know it was the right thing to do. So I did the meeting and everyone was very nice. After that it was just a the process of working on me. I am not going to lie, there was tremendous trepidation since it is one thing to learn how to dance, that was daunting enough, I had to commit to practice four hours a day and put my ambitions of being a writer to the side. My mom though just keep working on me and here we are today.

MG: Any fun behind the scenes stories so far?
JW: Oh yeah! I got a good one with Tony (Dovolani), one of the pro-dancers, who is dancing with Martina (Navratilova) this season. The couples got gathered together with the producers and they told us the rules and things they expect on show night. Tony raises his hand and said “I got one thing I want to share with all of you, ok?!, no matter how you dance is going you don’t leave your pro out there on the stage. You don’t walk off on them. If you get lost in your dance, you look into your dancers eyes and we will guide you through it.” I love Tony, he is a great guy. I guess he had some problems in the past with people freezing up on him. I thought that was particular funny. I come from a performers background and I know you never run off the stage.

MG: First week of the show you tie for the top spot, does that create and pressure going forward?
JW: Actually I really don’t. I tell everybody, I still see life in five day sitcom blocks. So if you give me five days to learn something, I should be proficient enough to shoot it. That is just the way I see preparation in general. The first episode for me was just such a validating experience. You put in the work and you can deliver the performance based on your work. Kym and I ran that dance into to the ground, as we must have done it at least 523 times. We weren’t just in there chit-chatting. We worked until we had to change our shirts and take two showers.

MG: You seemed to really feel natural on the dance floor, Any prior dance experience?
JW: I have zero dancing experience. Other than dancing as a kid during parties, school dances, church and camp. I just listed all my dance experiences there.

MG: What do you like or fear most about being out on the dance floor?
JW: At this point, my fears are slowly starting to go away. My biggest fear though is injury. I want to keep my body in good shape. I can feel certain areas getting tighter and I can feel my body adjusting. Every dance has it own personality and hopefully you can gel with that personality of the dance. Some people try to fight against that but I just go with it. Luckily for me, when I dance I smile naturally. Some people just have this perpetual panic on their face while they are dancing. I am exactly the opposite. As soon as I start moving I am smiling away [laughs]. The more I get into the dance the more I start enjoying it and that’s when the rehearsal process kicks in.

MG: How does it feel to be compared to a young Gregory Hines by one of the judges?
JW: I mean that is huge man, really. It is a long stretch from being compared to Steve Urkel [laughs]. It is nice to be able to show people that I can do different things. Growing up I never understood the importance of being different. I thought I would just excel at whatever job I was given. I didn’t know at the time that if people only thought of you in one way they will only give you one job. Everything about this experience with “Dancing with the Stars” has been so positive for me, so far.

MG: Do you and Kym Johnson have any special dances planned for the show?
JW: I definitely have a dance that means a lot to me. I obviously need to survive the eliminations to get to it. I told you though I obey the dance, I do not force anything. As much as I love music, you have to understand that not every song works for the dance. I think though the dance I have in mind could make some real noise…if I can nail it. But you have to vote for me though if you want to see the dance. It’s 1-800-VOTE4-12. We are team #12.

MG: Besides “Dancing with the Stars”, you are also hosting “Total Blackout” on Syfy this April, what can you tell us about that experience?
JW: It was a great experience. They are actually still tinkering with the show right now. I have been going in and doing some last minute tweaks and changes. The SyFy people have been over the moon about me participating with “Dancing with the Stars” also. People are really going to love this show. I am calling it ‘guinea pig TV’, it is that thing that you are flipping through and you find yourself watching two episodes back to back without even realizing it. I also think it would be a really fun show to do on the road.

MG: What do did you enjoy most about hosting a show?
JW: The best thing I like about hosting is that this stuff is not happening to me in the dark [laughs]. I am serious. I have test contestants in foam rubber suits, I give my instructions and then go back to my dressing room, watch the live feed and eat some Doritos [laughs]. They can have the tarantulas crawling up their hands. I am all set.

MG: Just recently you also appeared on “Psych” again, is Tony going to be seen again soon?
JW: Who knows man. I always have such a blast with the “Psych” boys.  It is one of my favorite shows that I have ever guested on. James (Roday) and Dulé (Hillare) are excellent actors and we get in some good trouble. I have been on two episodes…so hey, why not make it three.

MG: So after you win “Dancing with the Stars”, what you got planned next?
JW: Right now, I need some votes for team #12 on Dancing with the Stars, it’s 1-800-VOTE4-12. Supposedly you can’t text votes in unless you have AT&T, so a lot of people don’t know that. There is also the option to vote online at http://vote.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/vote.  This is going to be a fantastic season for sure.

“Dancing With The Stars” Announced Cast For New Season

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
ABC Television Network
PRESS RELEASE – PRESS RELEASE – ENTERTAINMENT –
ABC ANNOUNCES CELEBRITY CAST FOR NEW SEASON OF DANCING WITH THE STARS

A DAZZLING NEW CAST OF STARS IS SET TO SHINE, AS “DANCING WITH THE STARS” RETURNS, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 ON ABC

“Dancing with the Stars the Results Show” Premieres in Week One With the First Elimination, Tuesday, September 20

Macy’s “Stars of Dance” Returns; and New This Season, “AT&T Spotlight Performance”
A dynamic lineup of stars – including a U.S. veteran, an NBA champion, a film and TV star, a TV host and journalist, a Grammy-nominated singer, a supermodel, a reality TV star, a showbiz legacy and activist, and a World Cup star — will take the stage for the two-hour season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars,” MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.

All 12 couples will dance for the first time on live national television on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, either performing the Cha Cha Cha or The Viennese Waltz. Airing on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET.), a live, one-hour special, “Dancing with the Stars: Meet the Cast,” will feature the most exciting moments from Monday night’s performances, with commentary from the judges and never-before-seen footage from the teams’ first weeks of training. Then, on the season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show,” TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER, 20 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET), the couple with the lowest combined judges’ scores and public votes for their performance will be sent home in the season’s first elimination.

The 12 celebrities heading to the dance floor this season, as announced tonight on ABC’s “Bachelor Pad” by “Dancing with the Stars” hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke in a live press conference sponsored by the September 16 film release, “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” are:

DAVID ARQUETTE — David Arquette is an actor, writer, director, producer and soon to be dancer. In 1997 Arquette was discovered at Sundance for his role in “Johns.” Since that time, he has acted in dozens of feature films, including the “Scream” films, “Hamlet 2,” “The Grey Zone,” “Dream with the Fishes,” “Never Die Alone” and “The Darwin Awards.” This year he reprised his role as Deputy “Dewey” Riley in the much anticipated fourth installment of the “Scream” films. He has also joined the cast of the Disney Television interactive series, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” where he lends his voice as Scully, a lookout pirate parrot who helps Jake and his crew of kid pirates. In January 2003, Arquette formed a production company, Coquette Productions, with Courteney Cox. Through their company, he wrote and produced his directorial debut, “The Tripper,” as well as “The Butler’s in Love,” which he executive-produced and directed. Also under the Coquette banner he produced the F/X drama “Dirt” and ABC’s “Cougar Town,” with Bill Lawrence, which Arquette executive produces along with Cox, who stars. Up next, he will direct the 3D psychological thriller “Glutton” for Remember Dreaming Productions, executive-producing through Coquette.

RON ARTEST — Born in Queensbridge, New York, Ron Artest is currently a member of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and a father to four children. He was signed to a five-year contract by the L.A. Lakers as a free agent in 2009 and has been playing professional basketball in the NBA since 1999. He was selected to the 2005-06 NBA’s All-Defensive Team, was voted by the media as 2003-04 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and was the only man with 271 steals in his first two seasons in the NBA– breaking Michael Jordan’s record. Artest won his first World Championship ring in June 2010 after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals, and received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award – the NBA’s highest citizenship and community service honor – in April 2011. In his career, he has played for the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and now the Los Angeles Lakers. He has remained an active contributor in his hometown and in the home cities of the organizations for which he has played, as well as in regions globally that require urgent humanitarian aid. In August 2007, Artest formed the non-profit Xcel University to officially organize and streamline his charitable contributions and community endeavors under one umbrella. He joined a contingent of representatives from the NBA Players Association working with Feed the Children, as well as Project Contact Africa, and became a spokesman in PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) A.B.C. (Animal Birth Control) campaign in 2007. In the fall of 2008, Artest launched The Artest Math Masters program at Felix Cook Jr. Elementary School in partnership with the Houston Independent School District, which rewarded students who maintained high grades in Mathematics during the 2008-2009 school year. In fall 2010, he decided to raffle off his 2010 NBA World Championship Ring, with the proceeds going to Xcel University. Funds raised through the ring raffle were earmarked for non-profits that provide mental health therapists and mental health services to those who wouldn’t be able to otherwise afford them. Artest has visited dozens of community centers, schools and libraries in low income areas of numerous cities throughout his career, speaking to kids about the virtues of education and a life devoid of violence and drugs, and on the importance of getting a college education. He sponsors summer basketball tournaments in the Queensbridge Projects in New York City, sends kids from Queensbridge to summer camps, and pays tuition for kids from Queensbridge who show academic promise to attend private schools. In June 2011, he filed a petition to legally change his name to Metta World Peace.

CHAZ BONO — Chaz Bono is an LGBT rights advocate, three time author, speaker and the only child of famed entertainers Sonny and Cher. His decision to come out as a Lesbian in 1995 prompted his public work in support of LGBT rights and social justice. Chaz has contributed as a writer-at-large to The Advocate and, in 1996, became the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Day spokesperson. He also served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and has spoken at dozens of universities and LGBT events. An acclaimed author, he has written three books, including Transition, which was released by Dutton on May 10th. Transition is his groundbreaking and candid account of a 40-year struggle to match his gender identity with his physical body. He has most recently shared his life and experiences in the three-time Emmy nominated documentary, “Becoming Chaz.” Premiering to standing ovations at this year’s Sundance, “Becoming Chaz” had its world television premiere on May 10, 2011 on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Chaz continues to create visibility, raise awareness and effect change for LGBT issues. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his fiancé, Jennifer Elia.

ELISABETTA CANALIS – Known for her gorgeous figure and striking expressions, Elisabetta Canalis became an instantly recognizable figure in the world of high fashion and advertising. She has worked with some of the greatest fashion icons, including Roberto Cavalli, and has graced such magazine covers as Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and Cosmopolitan. Born in Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, Canalis’ father, Cesare and mother, Bruna enrolled Elisabetta in the elite school Liceo Azuni, where she studied throughout her high school years. After graduating, she moved to Milan to study foreign languages at the prestigious Universita Statale. It was there that she made the bold career decision to pursue acting rather than foreign languages, and her enthusiasm for her craft soon landed her a series regular role on the infamous Italian television drama, “Striscia la Notizia,” for three years. The exposure and critical acclaim she received presented Canalis the opportunity to work in American & Italian film and TV. She has since appeared in the comedies “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” and “Virgin Territory.” In Italy she appeared in the films “La Seconda Volta Non Si Scorda Mai,” “La fidanzata di papa,” “A Natale mi Sposo,” as well as “Christmas in NY.” Television credits include the Italian series “Carabinieri” and the sitcom “Love Bugs.” Canalis has also demonstrated her impressive dramatic capabilities in America with a recurring role on TNT’s smash hit, “Leverage.” Her entertainment career continued to blossom after her big screen debut. Her drive for success and passion for music were united when she hosted the Italian version of “Total Request Live,” as well as Italy’s annual music festival, Festivalbar 2007. Recently she co-hosted the 61st edition of the Sanremo Music Festival, which is considered to be the most prestigious television event in Italy. Canalis is also known for her great philanthropic endeavors. Combining her deep love of animals and her passion for modeling, she participated in an upcoming anti-fur campaign with PETA. An avid equestrian for the past 10 years, she says that her opposition to animal cruelty began as a young girl. Her work with PETA solidifies her determination to end all forms of animal abuse and neglect. Canalis currently resides in Los Angeles, California and Milan, Italy but she loves coming back to Sardinia, the island where she was born and where part of her family lives.

KRISTIN CAVALLARI — Born in Denver, Colorado, Kristin Cavallari moved to California with her brother and father as a high school junior when the first season of “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” began production for MTV. She was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 2006 for Choice Reality Star. After completing two successful years on the hit show, Cavallari switched gears to focus on a career in acting. From 2006-2009 she starred in such films as “Van Wilder: Freshman Year,” “Green Flash,” “Spring Breakdown” and “Wild Cherry,” alongside Rumer Willis and Rob Schneider. Next she played a guest role on “CSI: NY,” and most recently on ABC’s “The Middle.” Other credits include “Veronica Mars,” the lead role in Teddy Geiger’s “For You I Will (Confidence)” music video and Gavin Degraw’s video for his single, “In Love with a Girl.” In May 2009, Cavallari confirmed that she would be joining the cast of MTV’s reality series “The Hills.” Currently serving as ambassador of children’s charity One Kid One World, Cavallari joins the fight to aid underprivileged children around the globe. In 2010 she traveled to El Salvador, where she spent time rebuilding schools in local communities. Continuing her humanitarian efforts, she made her way to Kenya in early 2011 for another project for One Kid One World. Most recently Cavallari combined her passion for fashion and love for charity by teaming up with Shoe Dazzle to design a spring shoe, with proceeds benefiting the charity. Her new spring shoe, named Bardot, will be available in summer of 2011.

NANCY GRACE — An outspoken, tireless advocate for victims’ rights and one of TV’s most respected legal analysts, Nancy Grace is the powerful force behind HLN’s top-rated “Nancy Grace.” A former prosecutor with an unparalleled record of success, Grace’s life changed forever in 1979 when her fiancé, Keith Griffin, was shot and killed. She abandoned plans to become an English professor and turned to criminal justice. Her first book, Objection!, became an instant New York Times bestseller, as did her two subsequent novels, The Eleventh Victim and Death on the D-List. A television movie adaptation of The Eleventh Victim is currently in development. Grace initially came to TV from the Atlanta Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, where she served for over a decade as a felony prosecutor of violent crimes. Known for her authentic sensibility and her firebrand take on the justice system, she was tapped to co-host Court TV’s “Cochran and Grace,” and later, the live daily trial coverage program, “Closing Arguments.” Grace, her husband and her twins reside in Atlanta and New York City.

ROB KARDASHIAN — Born in Los Angeles, California, Rob Kardashian is the fourth child and only son of the late attorney Robert Kardashian and Kris Jenner; he has five sisters, Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Rob graduated from the prestigious Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California with a degree in Business Entrepreneurship. He stars in the No. 1 hit reality television show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and also stars in the hit series for E!, “Khloe & Lamar.” True to the entrepreneurial attitude he developed during college, Rob is involved in several business ventures. He is co-manager of the pop music, female super-group BG5, alongside renowned manager Kenneth Crear. He also enjoys a successful modeling career as the face of the popular brand Ocean Pacific. Rob travels across the country making personal appearances for club venues and charity events. In his spare time, he maintains an active lifestyle. He runs and plays basketball with his NBA Laker Champion brother-in-law, Lamar Odom, loves to play golf, and is an avid skier. Rob currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with his sister, Khloe, and Lamar.

CARSON KRESSLEY — Emmy-winning television star, celebrity stylist, author and fashion designer Carson Kressley is currently starring in “Carson-Nation,” a one-hour reality show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, in which he travels to small towns throughout the U.S., transforming lives one person at a time. Previously, Kressley helmed Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed “How to Look Good Naked,” and earned a primetime Emmy for his role on Bravo’s breakout hit series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” He hosted ABC’s “True Beauty” from executive producers Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher, the WB series “Crowned,” as well as “Your Own Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star” on OWN. He was a frequent style contributor on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Kressley co-starred in Universal’s “The Perfect Man” and opposite John Goodman in NBC’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” Host of the 2008 True Colors tour with Cyndi Lauper and the B52’s, which raised awareness and promoted equality for the LGBT community, Kressley is also a New York Times best-selling author with three books to his credit, including the children’s book You’re Different and That’s Super, a children’s book promoting diversity and tolerance. A strong supporter of many philanthropic causes, he has worked with The Trevor Project, The Human Rights Campaign, The Empire State Pride Agenda, LIGALY, GLSEN, AIDS WALK, and the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation. Kressley is the founder of Manhattan’s Ali Forney Center’s “Styled For Success” program, which provides career wardrobes for formerly homeless youth, and was the founding donor of the first scholarship program for LGBT youth in his hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania. When he is not working, he can be found on one of his American Saddlebred show horses, with which he has achieved World Champion status.

RICKI LAKE — Poised to return to daytime television with the all-new “The Ricki Lake Show” in the fall of 2012, Ricki Lake is a pop culture icon who has built a career on her candid, “straight talk” sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature. She has maintained a worldwide fan base that is a true cross-section of age and ethnicity, and her approachable appeal has charmed international movie and television audiences for more than two decades. As Tracy Turnblad, the zaftig heroine of the original John Waters’ film “Hairspray,” Lake made an acting debut that positioned her as an “entertainer to watch” in Hollywood. Later, with a surprise turn as a talk show host, she met with unprecedented success and earned her place as a beloved media personality across the globe. Lake has recently completed work on a memoir due on shelves in the spring 2012. In addition, she executive-produced the critically acclaimed documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival and examines natural childbirth in the United States. That project has generated a grassroots movement and led to the publication of her first book, Your Best Birth. On November 8, 2011, Lake and her filmmaking partner, Abby Epstein, will release a four-part follow-up DVD series, “More Business of Being Born,” offering invaluable information and featuring birth stories from some of Hollywood’s most notable celebrities. Lake starred in John Waters’ “Cry Baby,” opposite Johnny Depp, and “Serial Mom,” alongside Kathleen Turner. Other notable appearances include the contemporary classic “Working Girl,” the acclaimed drama “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” the romantic comedy “Mrs. Winterbourne,” opposite Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser, and “Where the Day Takes You,” opposite Dermot Mulroney. She also starred in the CBS film “Babycakes” and the popular television series “China Beach” and “The King of Queens.”

J.R. MARTINEZ –– J.R. Martinez is an Iraq War veteran, motivational speaker and actor on ABC’s “All My Children.” In April 2003, at 19 years of age, Martinez was serving as a humvee driver for the United States Army in Iraq when his left front tire hit a landmine. He suffered smoke inhalation and burns to more than 40 percent of his body. He was immediately evacuated and sent to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX, where he spent 34 months in recovery. Since his injury, Martinez has undergone 33 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery. While in recovery, he started speaking to other burn patients within the hospital, sharing his experiences and listening to theirs. News of his story and efforts to help others quickly spread, first on a local level and then to national circuits, leading to appearances on “Oprah,” “60 Minutes,” CNN and more. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Martinez has traveled the country since 2004, spreading his message of resilience and optimism. Today he is a sought-after motivational speaker and has shared the stage with many notable individuals. In October 2008, he joined the cast of ABC’s Emmy® Award-winning daytime drama, “All My Children,” as combat veteran Brot Monroe. He continues to balance his motivational speaking engagements and charity work with his acting. He is also busy working on his memoir. Born in Shreveport, LA, Martinez moved to Hope, AZ, where he and his mother lived until he was 17. They moved to Dalton, GA, just prior to his senior year, the place he proudly calls his hometown.

CHYNNA PHILLIPS — Wife, mother, singer/songwriter, actress, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Chynna Phillips has been surrounded by Hollywood since she first entered this world. Born to musicians John and Michelle Phillips of famed 60’s group The Mamas and The Papas, Chynna began her acting career appearing in John Hughes’ 1982 teen-sensation, “Some Kind of Wonderful.” She followed up with roles in 1988’s “Caddyshack II,” 1989’s “Say Anything,” and played the character Roxanne Pulitzer in the 1989 TV biopic, “Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer.” Next Phillips, along with childhood friends Carnie & Wendy Wilson, formed the trio Wilson Phillips. In 1990 the group released their self-titled debut album which would go on to sell ten million copies worldwide, go 5x multi-platinum, with three No. 1 singles. Billboard declared them the best selling female group of all time, breaking the record previously set by Motown’s The Supremes. Wilson Phillips was nominated for five Grammy Awards, an American Music Award and won a Billboard Music Award (for “Hold On” and “Release Me,” written by Phillips). Taking a break from the group, Phillips released a successful solo album entitled “Naked & Sacred,” while also filming and starring in the lead role of the television remake of famed Broadway musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” That same year she also married husband and fellow actor William Baldwin. She then took time off to focus on family, and had three children, while also reclaiming herself and becoming a Christian. In 2004 she reunited with Wilson Phillips and they released their 3rd album, “California,” which paid homage to west coast musicians from the 1960s and 1970s. In 2009 Phillips teamed up with singer/songwriter Vaughan Penn to form the Christian pop duo Chynna & Vaughan, and put out an album entitled “One Reason.” Shortly thereafter, Wilson Phillips also released their 1st Christmas album, “Wilson Phillips Christmas in Harmony.” Earlier this year, it was announced that Wilson Phillips would be reuniting again for an album of original music to celebrate their 20 years together as a musical group. The group was also featured in this year’s blockbuster comedy film, “Bridesmaids.” Phillips works with the charity Los Angelitos Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, which is devoted to helping the children who are displaced by the constant violence in the city and to creating a warm and loving environment for the kids.

HOPE SOLO — Hope Solo is widely considered the best goalkeeper in the world and has been the starter for the United States women’s national team since 2005. She scored 109 goals as a high school forward before moving to goal at the University of Washington near her hometown of Richland, Washington. At the 2011 World Cup, Solo recorded two shutouts in group play, and then, in what is considered one of the greatest soccer games in history, made a save in a penalty shootout against Brazil in the quarterfinal, helping the Americans advance to the semis. The U.S. reached the final, falling to Japan in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw. Solo was awarded the Adidas Golden Glove by FIFA as the tournament’s top goalkeeper. She was also the starting goalkeeper for the United States in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where the U.S. women’s team won the gold medal by defeating Brazil 1-0 in extra time, in no small measure due to Solo’s performance as she stopped an energetic Brazilian attack, making save after save. Solo started her Women’s Professional Soccer career playing for Saint Louis Athletica, and was named Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009. Since then she has played for the Atlanta Beat and currently plays for magicJack as the starting goalkeeper, and is a two-time WPS All Star. When not playing soccer, Solo enjoys reading, basketball, beach volleyball and other outdoor activities. She loves traveling the world and gives back through community service projects.

“Dancing with the Stars” returns with a few huge new surprises, plus all the elements viewers have come to know and love. “Macy’s Stars of Dance,” which features some of the best choreographers and performers from different styles of dance and offers viewers performances that represent the peak of achievement in their genres, will return on “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show.” One of the “Macy’s Stars of Dance” performances will be the popular “Design-a-Dance,” where fans have the chance to select their favorite professional dancers, dance styles, songs and costumes at www.abc.com. New this season will be “AT&T’s Spotlight Performance,” which features and celebrates people whose lives have been changed forever by dance.

Below are key dates for Season 13 (dates and times subject to change):

* “Dancing with the Stars'” two-hour season premiere, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET)
* “Dancing with Stars: Meet the Cast” one-hour special, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET)
* “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show” one-hour season premiere, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET)
* “Dancing with the Stars'” season finale, NOVEMBER 2011 (date TBA).

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

Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday night during and up to 30 minutes after the “Dancing with the Stars” performance shows. AT&T customers may also text message their votes by texting the word “VOTE” and entering the number that corresponds to the team they want to support (message and data rates may apply). Viewers may also vote online at www.abc.com starting from the opening of each episode on the East Coast with voting closing at 8:00 a.m., PT/11:00 a.m., ET on Tuesday mornings.

Just in time for the big casting news, ABC.com is launching its new “Discuss” pages, www.abc.tv/DWTSDiscuss. In addition to featuring the show’s official Twitter and Facebook feeds, the pages are designed to make it easier to find, follow and dive into conversations that are happening around the show. Site producers will be actively pulling and highlighting conversations that are really resonating with fans, trending on Twitter or are simply fun or different. Throughout the season the ABC.com team will use the page to share exclusive content, host talent chats and, ultimately, highlight the uber fans that participate the most.

“Dancing with the Stars” is the U.S. version of the international smash hit series, “Strictly Come Dancing.” This version is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions. Conrad Green serves as executive producer and Ashley Edens-Shaffer and Joe Sungkur are co-executive producers. Alex Rudzinski directs. “Dancing with the Stars” is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC’s selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound.

Tonight’s live “DWTS” cast announcement was sponsored by the upcoming feature film, “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” starring Sarah Jessica Parker and produced by The Weinstein Company.

About BBC Worldwide Productions:
BBC Worldwide Productions, led by Jane Tranter, is based in Los Angeles and develops and produces scripted and non-scripted projects for U.S. cable and broadcast networks, as well as digital platforms. The production company is responsible for the smash hit “Dancing with the Stars” (ABC), “Top Gear” (HISTORY), “What Not to Wear” (TLC) and “Torchwood: Miracle Day” (Starz). BBC Worldwide Productions sits within one of six core businesses that form BBC Worldwide, the main commercial arm and wholly-owned subsidiary of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

About The Weinstein Company:
The Weinstein Company (TWC) is a multimedia production and distribution company launched in October 2005 by Bob and Harvey Weinstein. TWC also encompasses Dimension Films, the genre label founded in 1993 by Bob Weinstein, which has released such popular franchises as “Scream,” “Spy Kids” and “Scary Movie.” Together TWC and Dimension Films released Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech,” winner of four 2011 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. Upcoming releases include “Our Idiot Brother,” “Apollo 18,” “Dirty Girl,” “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” “My Week with Marilyn” and “The Artist.” Recently wrapped is “Cogan’s Trade.” TWC’s television credits include the Emmy® Award-winning hit reality series “Project Runway,” the new VH1 reality series “Mob Wives” and the critically acclaimed HBO comedy/crime series “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.” The company is producing three “Project Runway” spinoffs, “Project Runway All Stars,” “Project Runway: Masters” and “Project Runway: Accessories.” The company currently has 17 series in development, including: “Marco Polo,” “The Nanny Diaries” and “The Mad Ones.”