Season 25 of Dancing With the Stars comes out of the gate with a twist: a married-couples competition.
TV personalities Nick and Vanessa Lachey will be paired, respectively, with pro dancers Peta Murgatroyd and Maksim “Maks” Chmerkovskiy, who were married in July. They make up two of the 13 dance pairings announced Wednesday in advance of the Sept. 18 season premiere (ABC, 8 ET/PT).
“That is going to be fireworks, for sure. It’s something we’ve never had on the show. We’re super excited,” executive producer Ashley Edens says.
The latest field includes celebrities from a wide range of backgrounds, including singer-songwriter Debbie Gibson, former NFL star Terrell Owens, Pretty Little Liars star Sasha Pieterse and Drew Scott of HGTV's Property Brothers.
Although Dancing will focus on the new competition, the show will acknowledge the anniversary season as the mirrorball trophy switches from gold to silver. It also will remind viewers of classic moments and reimagine iconic past performances.
“We want to give fans everything they’ve liked best about the show over the last 24 seasons,” executive producer Joe Sungkur says. “We’re bringing back everything the fans love,” including Disney, movie and “guilty pleasures” theme weeks.
This season may be Sean Spicer-less — the former presidential press secretary's name came up during traditional pre-season speculation about dream castings — but it features the return of some fan favorite pros, including Cheryl Burke, who will dance with Owens, and Mark Ballas, who is teamed with violinist Lindsey Stirling.
In addition to those pairings, female celebrities and their pro partners include: Shark Tank investor Barbara Corcoran and Keo Motsepe; WWE star Nikki Bella and Artem Chigvintsev; Gibson and Alan Bersten; Pieterse and Gleb Savchenko; and ESPN personality and former Paralympian swimmer Victoria Arlen and Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
Male celebrities and their partners include: singer-actor Jordan Fisher and Lindsay Arnold; former NBA player and coach Derek Fisher; Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz and Witney Carson; and Scott and Emma Slater.
“They’ve been asking for years, but we haven’t had the time,” says Scott, who is engaged to Linda Phan. “But I’m getting married early next year and I thought now would be the time to do it, because it’s going to make me the best dancer ever for my first (wedding) dance.”
With the memoir to promote and multiple TV series in production, Drew Scott says it made sense not to have both brothers participate this season.But "if I get exhausted or injure myself, we’ll just swap Jonathan in. No one will know,” he jokes.
Scott, a former karate champion, says he wants to win.
“Knowing how competitive I am, I go all in, 100%,” he says. (He and Slater have dubbed their team #hotproperty. “She’s the hot. I’m the property.”)
Gibson, who rose to singing stardom as a teen in the ‘80s and has performed on Broadway, would like to win, too, but her greater motivation is to get up, move and deal with the health challenges of Lyme Disease.
“There is a joyfulness to dancing and performing that I’ve been missing terribly,” says Gibson, who will have to work her dance rehearsals around concerts.
“I need to push myself a little bit right now. This is a big, bold way to do that, in front of America,” she says. “There’s a bigger picture in telling my story than ‘Hey, Look at how I can dance.’ My story is universal for a lot of people sitting at home, maybe feeling stuck, maybe dealing with health issues, feeling pain."
She still wants to win. "If we won the trophy, it would be the little train that could. That can happen, but only with me staying in tune with my health and my body.”