DANCING WITH THE STARS - "EpisodeÊ2701 - "DancingÊwith the Stars" is back with a new, dynamic cast of 13 celebrities who are ready to move out of their comfort zones and hit the ballroom floor on a special two-night premiere. The competition begins with a two-hour season premiere, live,ÊMONDAY, SEPT. 24Ê(8:00-10:00 p.m. EDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) DEMARCUS WARE, LINDSAY ARNOLD
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

‘Dancing With the Stars’ season 27: will DeMarcus Ware win it all?

Originally posted Tuesday, September 25, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

This 27th incarnation of “Dancing With the Stars” is a bit low on actual star power. Of the 13 cast members, I kind of know six of them - maybe?

Three are from my childhood: 

John Schneider of “Dukes of Hazard” fame who now works out of Atlanta for Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” on OWN.

Nancy McKeon, who played Jo on “The Facts of Life.”

- Mary Lou Retton - 1984 gold medal-winning gymnast

There is a low-wattage Disney star, a secondary “Harry Potter” actress and a semi-famous R&B singer. 

Overall, the night was pretty good. There was some quality dancing and more than enough potential to keep hard-core viewers around even without Maks, Val or Peta in sight. I’d say NFL player DeMarcus Ware had the best dance of the night, tying with tops for the night at 23. It’s easy to say the “Bachelorette” dude deserved his 14. 

Here are my guesses on how far they’ll go based on their first dances and how celebrities like them have done before. 


DeMarcus Ware, NFL player. Yet another super athletic football player who could very well win the mirror-ball trophy. He has that megawatt smile and the moves to back it up. And he has nowhere to go but up in terms of his ability. I can see 10’s coming by week five. Score: (8,7,8)

Juan Pablo Di Pace, actor, singer with credits such as  “Fuller House,” “Dallas” and “Mamma Mia”. He gets paired with Cheryl Burke in her 21st round on the show. That is a sign that the producers think he has a shot to win and he does. The newly engaged Cheryl does most of the heavy lifting in his first dance but he has plenty of charisma and he brought more than enough heat. Carrie liked the chemistry. Len: “Hunk with junk in the trunk.” Bruno said that’s a salsa “that gets under the skin.” Score: 22 (7,7,8)

Tinashe - R&B singer. She is one of the real natural dancers among the contestants, placing her immediately near the top. I have never seen her before. She has the type of energy and skills that could take her to the finals despite her relative lack of name recognition. Score: 23 (8,7,8)

Mary Lou Retton - 1984 gold medal gymnast. Yes, she was the first woman on a Wheaties cover. Now age 50, she is clearly in good shape and her positive, enthusiastic personality shines through. Len Goodman told her to chill out and not rush so much. Bruno Tonioli said she’s still very malleable and liked her natural skill. Carrie Ann Inaba said she made some mistakes but she is “still golden.” She will get votes because she is Mary Lou Retton and I can see her only getting better. Score: 19 (6,7,6)


John Schneider - actor. He’s 58 but seems to be in a great shape. Of course, he does his first dance to the theme to “Dukes of Hazzard” and even gets to jump over the hood of a General Lee facsimile (minus the Confederate Flag, of course). It’s hard not to smile watching him dance. His foxtrot won’t win any awards but his charm shines through. He could last awhile. Carrie was impressed. Len? Not so much. “It lacked any finesse or quality of movement.” Score: 18 (7,5,6)

Milo Manheim - Disney actor. The lanky teenager is paired with Witney Carson and seems like a cooler version of Ross from “Friends.” He can certainly dance better and his cha cha is pure fun. The judges gave him some technical advice but he clearly has potential to go far. ABC obviously cast him due to his Disney ties and Disney folks generally do well on this show. Score: 20 (6,7,7)

Danelle Umstead - Paralympic skier. She is the first visually-impaired dancer to compete on the show, which makes her instantly intriguing. She opens looking super scared but she warms up during the foxtrot and does a respectable opening dance. It’s hard to not get a little emotional as she got teary eyed herself. Awkward moment: Bruno gives her some advice using visuals that she probably couldn’t really see. Carrie loved the bond she had with her pro dancer Artem Chigvintsev. She is an athlete. She has a real chance to get better. Score: 18 (6,6,6)

Bobby Bones, radio host. He is another synergy play because he has done some mentoring work on “American Idol,” now on ABC. He admits to having no dance experience. He is all He’s all dork, pretty terrible, but in a fascinating way. He goes all out and is so enthusiastic after the dance is over, he practically falls down. It’s pretty hilarious actually. “The only thing I have to say - decaf,” said Tom Bergeron. “This is the greatest day of my life!” he yelped. Bruno: “Surreal! It was like watching Buddy Holly going jagging crazy... it was exquisitely demented.” Len: “You attacked the dance.” The judges clearly gave him extra points for verve, certainly not clean technique. It’s hard for me to judge how the viewers will take all that. Score: 20 (7,6,7).

Nancy McKeon, actress. She was a bit sloppy in form but she made up for it with commitment. Sure, her facial expressions were goofy but at age 52, her dexterity is impressive. She could easily make it to the top seven with steady improvement in the coming weeks. Score:  18 (6,6,6)

Alexis Ren, model and social media “influencer” with 12.8 million Instagram followers. Her mom, who died two years ago, loved the show so she is doing it in her honor. Given her age (21) and her athletic build, she is a naturally good dancer.  Judges liked her. Score: 21 (7,7,7)

Joe Anabele. “Bachelorette” crossover star. He started okay but fell apart at the end, missing steps to the point that I could even notice. Len Goodman really reamed for it. He clearly should and could be better if the “Bachelor” fan base keeps him around, as they may. He is that good looking His score is one of the lowest I’ve seen in ages. They gave him no sympathy points. Score: 14 (5,4,5). 


Nikki Glaser, stand-up comic. She is doing something she is totally not into. Much respect! She’s better than I expected but the salsa is pretty basic. Len thought it was too awkward and she wasn’t using her hips properly. Bruno: “It wasn’t a total train wreck.” Carrie said her body parts are not working together quite yet. I can’t see her lasting very long. Score: (6,5,6)

UPDATE: She was the first one eliminated so I called that one right.

Evanna Lynch - actress. I know zip about her and she seems perfectly nice. She was perfectly adequate but didn’t really stand out. I’m not sure if she will generate votes. She is the type of dancer who often gets lost in the pack. Score: 18 (7,5,6) (The Potter fans must be big voters cos she wasn’t even in the bottom six for the first vote. Clearly, more than the “Facts of Life” crowd because McKeon ended up in the bottom two.)

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.