This was posted on Monday, September 18, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
No Atlanta connections among the 13 celebrities for season 25 of "Dancing With the Stars" but let me handicap night one. Who has obvious skills, who is destined for an early exit and who has major room for improvement?
This is a relatively light cast in terms of "fame" considering the bigger names include NFL player Terrell Owens, 80s pop star Debbie Gibson, "Malcolm in the Middle" star Frankie Muniz and "Shark Tank" judge Barbara Corcoran. In other words, not too buzzworthy.
And in the end, only two dancers stood out as potential winners; Jordan Fisher and Lindsey Stirling. Otherwise, a lot of maybes such as Nick Lachey, Terrell Owens, Vanessa Lachey and Victoria Arlen, a woman who has spent much of her life in a wheelchair and still can't feel her legs.
We have the three original judges: Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. (Julianne Hough is off.)
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Jordan Fisher: The young, sexy "Hamilton" actor already has a dance background so he obviously knows how to move. His tango felt smooth and silky. His partner Lindsey Arnold helped David Ross last season come in second. She can easily get Jordan to the top. SCORE: 8+7+7=22
Lindsey Stirling: The electronic violinist is paired with Mark Ballas, who's back for his 19th season! Mark always gets the better dancers and he is one of the show's best choreographer. She does not disappoint. Her cha-cha is crisp and clean, as Len said. She has a great personality and Ballas will only make her look better. She is a virtual lock for the finals: Scores: 7+8+7=22
Frankie Muniz: The actor is clearly not a great dancer yet but he has a lot of potential. And he loves the show and clearly has the desire to improve. His connection with his pro dancer Whitney Carson was palpable and he is the type of actor who will garner nostalgia votes (see Jennifer Grey, Alfonso Rubeiro and Ralph Macchio).
TOO SOON TO SAY
Victoria Arlen: The ESPN host was paralyzed and was in a vegetative state from ages 11 to 15. After 10 years in a wheelchair, she began walking 18 months ago despite not feeling her legs. The fact she can move at all is inspiring. And her cha-cha was impressive. The joy she exhibited that she is moving at all is palpable. Carrie Ann Inaba was impressed with her technical skills, too. This will be the most interesting story of the season and she will ride it into the top 6 or 7. Scores: 7+6+6=20
Nikki Bella: As a wrestler, she is athletic and can move. The fact she can dance is no surprise but she comes off a little cold and that could hurt her down the road garnering votes based on past seasons. She could very well end up one of those "shocking" early exits. Scores: 7+7+6=20
Terrell Owens: He could move and his cha-cha was great fun. Sure, his footwork was messy but the judges seemed unduly harsh, giving him 5s across the board. (It didn't help that he came first.) His likability is clearly evident and he will improve significantly. 5+5+5=15
Vanessa Lachey: The actress shows definite promise and performed with more confidence and skills than her husband Nick, but I'm not sure if her personality and modest fame credentials will mean she will outlast him. 7+7+7=21
Derek Fisher: The retired NBA player wasn't as free-wheeling fun as Terrell but go figure, he got a higher score. I'm up in the air how far he'll go based on this one dance but like all athletes, he has significant room to get higher scores. 6+6+6=18
Nick Lachey: Expectations are high given his brother won season two many moons ago. But he needs a lot of work. His cha-cha felt a bit rough around the edges. 6+6+6=18
Drew Scott: I'd say the HGTV host has no chance of winning except he has a big fan base and the man works like a dog. Otherwise, he is all arms and legs and has no finesse whatsoever -at least not yet. 6+5+5=16
NO CHANCE OF WINNING
Debbie Gibson: I love me some Debbie Gibson and her comeback from Lyme Disease is a fine story. But DWTS voters give women a harder time and there are at least four far better female dancers who will garner consistent votes in the coming weeks. She could see an early exit. 6+5+6=17
Sasha Pieterse: The "Pretty Little Liars" actress looked surprisingly awkward and stiff on stage. She has no chance. 6+6+6=18
Barbara Corcoran: The "Shark Tank" shark is the token senior this season and while she is game, her skills and age combined means she won't be around long. Then again, her perpetual lusting after Keo is both uncomfortable and amusing. 5+4+5 = 14