James Van Der Beek & His ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Parents Talk Reuniting on ‘DWTS’


James Van Der Beek is Jimmy Kimmel’s prediction to win Dancing With the Stars Season 28, and, after this week’s Pirates of the Caribbean-themed Paso Doble with pro partner Emma Slater, Team “VanDerSlate” is a strong contender to go to the final three!

“Honestly, I have goosebumps,” Slater told reporters after this week’s performance. “I have done this show for however many seasons and [this dance] was the most fun I’ve ever had during a performance. I even started tearing up at the end. It was awesome!”

Van Der Beek recalls Slater telling him that he’d love performing the Paso Doble after they were paired. “She told me it’s kind of like moving energy with your hands and I was like, ‘Oh, that totally sounds like my jam! When she told me that it was this big dramatic character in a Pirates-themed piece, I got really excited!

“The dance itself is such a character,” he continues. “It was such a character-driven dance with such a specific energy. To have that and a pirate character was awesome!”

(ABC/Eric McCandless)

In this age of reunions, reboots, and rivals, Van Der Beek was cheered on this week by his Dawson’s Creek parents John Wesley Shipp, who played Mitch Leery, and Mary-Margaret Humes, who played Gail Leery (check out the trio together at the top of this page). “James was magnificent, powerful and all grownup,” Shipp says of his TV son. “First time I’d seen him in 18 years!”

“James danced his Paso Doble with just the right dose of drama, dignity, and arrogance, which is what is expected of the matador in a bullfight and Emma’s performance complemented his with beautiful precision and fluidity,” Humes says. “They ‘Vander-slayed’ it. I absolutely believe they can and will go all the way.”

“I think they’d be great,” Van Der Beek replied when asked how he thinks Shipp and Humes would be on DWTS.

Viewers learned this week that Slater has a bit of a pre-dance ritual – she asks an audience member to slap her just before her dance commences. It began, she says, last season when “Grocery Store Joe” (Joe Amabile) was paired with Jenna Johnson.

“He’d get really nervous and I started to say, ‘Give him a little slap,’ and it started to work,” recalls Slater, who asked a random audience member to give her a wakeup tap for luck, too. “This week, I asked Terra Jolé (Little Women: Terra’s Little Family, DWTS Season 23), and boy, did she hit me! She didn’t have to be asked twice, but I was grateful because [the dance] ended up being so much fun!”

(ABC/Troy Harvey)

Exposure on DWTS has been known to help propel participants into new directions. Would Van Der Beek, who recently revealed is expecting with his wife, Kimberly Brook, their sixth (!) child entertain doing a reality series featuring his beautiful clan?

“I feel like we live in one,” he responds. “But I don’t know that I’ve ever wanted that or that I’d want to put them through [a reality show] on TV.”

(ABC/Troy Harvey)

While Team VanDerSlate scored an impressive 26 for the night, it was actually singer Ally Brooke and her pro partner, Sasha Farber, Slater’s husband, who got the top score of the evening, earning a 27 for their contemporary dance to the love theme from Beauty & the Beast.

“I’m so proud of them,” Slater raves. “Their dance was beautiful, absolutely stunning. Sasha’s choreography and the way he treats Ally – the way he teaches all his partners – is so admirable. I’m so proud of him and lucky that he is my husband. If you see Ally’s face during the performance, she’s so involved. She’s living that dream to the point where she got even a little bit teary-eyed at the end.”

While the “9” paddles came out on Disney Night, none of the contenders have yet to see the this season coveted “10” one be raised by the show’s strict judges. “This is so much fun,” Slater says. “We love this feeling. We’re going to keep going for it and when we get that ’10’ boy, is it going to be deserved. It’ll be like, we’re really going to have earned it!”

Dancing With the Stars, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC