'Dancing With the Stars': Louis Van Amstel Previews Which Couples To Watch Out For
Dancing With the Stars has successfully waltzed, foxtrotted and tangoed for more than 400 live episodes. With the four judges—Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Julianne Hough—set to be on every episode and the competition’s first MLB player (the Chicago Cubs’ David Ross) on the roster, executive producers Joe Sungkur and Ashley Edens-Shaffer anticipate big things for Season 24. “We want viewers to feel that they’re seeing something new,” Sungkur says. “Watching [gold-medal gymnast] Simone Biles learn a new skill, you’ll see a completely different side of her,” Edens-Shaffer says. “Pro Peta Murgatroyd just had a baby and is starting to lose the baby weight. It’s a very real show.”
“It’ll be an interesting season,” agrees former pro Louis Van Amstel, now a Special Olympics dance ambassador. “It’s always fascinating to see who gets into the hearts of America.” Van Amstel gives his picks as to who has the best chance of taking home this year’s Mirror Ball trophy.
Simone Biles and Sasha Farber
Fresh from winning five medals at the Rio Olympics, Biles (above, with Farber) seems destined to go far. “She’s in the best shape of her life,” Van Amstel says. Plus, with Farber, the sky’s the limit. “Of all the pros, he is the most skilled when it comes to gymnastics, so they can really pull out the tricks,” he explains. They already cinched the top score in Week 1, and it can’t hurt that her Olympic teammate, Laurie Hernandez, won last season.
'DWTS' lost its first celebrity dancer of Season 24.
Nancy Kerrigan and Artem Chigvintsev
The Olympic figure skater is perhaps best known for being attacked by a rival’s ex just before the 1994 Games, only to wind up taking the silver medal. “On paper, I think she has the audience on her side,” Van Amstel says. “Viewers remember that and will want her to do well.” However, who she is today also matters. “From what I know, Nancy is a very sweet person, but how her personality is on screen will be really important,” he says.
Normani Kordei and Valentin Chmerkovskiy
“She’s a full-on performer,” Van Amstel says of the 20-year-old Fifth Harmony singer. “She has no fear and can be out in front of millions of people. That is such an important part of the show.” Kordei is also one of the youngest contestants this season. “The younger demographic will vote for hours on end,”
Van Amstel says. “She’s got a lot behind her that will help get her [to the top].”
Heather Morris and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
The Glee vet (above, with Chmerkovskiy) originally received some backlash because of her previous experience—she was a backup dancer for Beyoncé in 2007. (The producers argue that she’s never danced with a partner.) Van Amstel admits her skills will help, but “it really depends on her attitude. Is she a hard worker?” he asks. “One thing Maks will not shy away from mentioning is if he doesn’t like her attitude. They’ll definitely be successful, but it does depend on chemistry.”
Mr. T and Kym Herjavec
“My soft spot is for Mr. T,” Van Amstel says. “I was such a huge fan of The A-Team.” Even though Mr. T didn’t show the highest level of skill in the first episode, the judges and audience seemed to enjoy watching him bust a move. Predicts Van Amstel: “He might actually be the dark horse.”
Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC