‚ÄúStars‚ÄĚ will feature actresses Tia Carrere and Lisa Rinna, journalist Giselle Fernandez, actor and former talk-show host George Hamilton, WWE wrestler Stacy Kiebler, 98 Degrees band member Drew Lachey, ESPN correspondent Kenny Mayne, Oscar winner Tatum O'Neal, three-time Super Bowl standout Jerry Rice and rap performer Romeo.
Each celebrity will be paired with a professional ballroom dancer and judged by a panel of experts: former professional dancers Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli and dancer/choreographer Carrie Ann Inaba. Tom Bergeron hosts. Viewers will once again vote for their favorite couple by telephone or online.
In a change from the summer installment, ABC is adding a special half-hour results show that will be televised the following evening, with one couple eliminated each week. ‚ÄúStars‚ÄĚ premieres Thursday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. with a two-hour premiere, and the results show debuts Jan. 6 at 8 p.m.
At the end of Octorber, ABC decided to give ‚ÄúDancing With the Stars‚ÄĚ a second cycle in the slot held by action drama ‚ÄúAlias,‚ÄĚ when that series was scheduled to take a broadcast hiatus due to lead actress Jennifer Garner‚Äôs maternity leave. Then at the end of November, ABC canceled the sibling Disney company Touchstone Television's spy drama. Stephen McPherson, president of ABC Entertainment, said at that time the show will end its five-season run in May 2006. ‚ÄúAlias‚ÄĚ is scheduled to return to the network's lineup with original episodes in the spring.
‚ÄúDancing With the Stars‚ÄĚ is the U.S. version of the international franchise ‚ÄúStrictly Come Dancing.‚ÄĚ ABC's version is produced in the U.S. by BBC Worldwide. Richard Hopkins and Conrad Green are executive producers.
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Christopher Lisotta is a reporter for Crain Communications' Television Week.