Crippled by a torn meniscus, Nancy O'Dell watched the Dancing with the Stars premiere from the sidelines instead of waltzing up a storm on the floor with Tony Dovolani. "That was tough because I so wanted to be a part of it," she tells TVGuide.com. O'Dell was replaced by The Bachelor's No. 2 gal, Melissa Rycroft, who netted a score of 23 with 48 hours of rehearsal. See what O'Dell has to say about her substitute, and get an update on her knee. We'll be checking in weekly with the Access Hollywood host and almost-contestant to get her take on Season 8, so be sure to come back next week.
TVGuide.com: How's your knee doing? Can you walk?
Nancy O'Dell: Yeah, I can walk fine. Walking and standing are no problem. The irony of it is that Jewel's in pain, but she doesn't have to have surgery. She's just resting. Mine doesn't hurt unless I go downstairs or I try to do twists and turns and I need surgery. ... The doctor said he could see it from three different views, which means it's a large tear and it will not heal itself, so I need surgery or it will totally mess up my knee in the future and I'll have long-term problems.
TVGuide.com: When are you having surgery?
O'Dell: Next week. Then I have rehab for six to eight weeks. I have an MDA [Muscular Dystrophy Association] bash that I'm hosting, which is another reason I'm bummed. My mom loved the show and she passed away from ALS and MDA was so instrumental in being there for us, and the Dancing cameras were gonna follow me. So I'm gonna go do that first. But it's driving me crazy. I'm so ready to get it done.
TVGuide.com: When did you tell Tony?
O'Dell: He was with me when I went to see the second doctor, which was the Dancing with the Stars doctor ... so Tony knew. He was very devastated because he thought he was out for the season too. I was so excited when I found out he had a new partner. I was so nervous when he stepped on the floor. He became, like, my family. Literally when he got into the position of how we start our routine, I was shaking.
TVGuide.com: Were you jealous of Melissa?
O'Dell: There was a part of me! [Laughs] I told Melissa after, "Oh my God! I totally know how you felt on The Bachelor. Here you are watching your man with another woman and I felt that!" I was more sad, but there was a part of me where I was like, you're doing my routine and you're wearing my dress. He didn't have time to choreograph anything else and wardrobe didn't have time to design another dress, so they just cut it about six inches for her. ... We were laughing because I was outside hosting Access earlier in the day and I heard "Moon River," which I would've danced to. So I knew they were rehearsing and I was like, "Oh my God, do not be a nerd and cry right now!" [Laughs] I have to admit I teared up because I put so much work into it.
TVGuide.com: Did you talk to her about this yet?
O'Dell: I talked to them after the show and she was so cute. I said, "You did it! Here you are with my man!" And she was like, "Thank you, thank you for everything!" I'm like, "Are you thanking me for getting injured?" [Laughs] She was like, "I feel like there's a reason for everything with everything I went through with The Bachelor, but now look at this!" We were just teasing each other, but I do think there's a reason for everything and for some reason I'm not supposed to be on this season. Maybe next season.
TVGuide.com: Are you going to come back next season?
O'Dell: That's what I'm hoping! [Laughs] The producers certainly can't commit yet, but they know that I'm definitely interested and Jewel said she's interested as well, so they know I'm pushing for it and the possibility is there.
TVGuide.com: They should do an injury season with you two and Misty May-Treanor.
O'Dell: I know! They need to have a comeback season. Jewel said she'll do it too.
TVGuide.com: Who was your favorite from Monday?
O'Dell: Well, of course Melissa and Tony. I thought Gilles [Marini] was great. He is the nicest, cutest person. I mean, not just talking about his looks, but his personality is so cute. I think women are gonna fall in love with him. He's kind of the one to watch. He was the first one to call me when he found out about my injury and he left the longest message about how he had a torn meniscus too and he told me how the surgery went and who his doctor is in L.A. "Please call me and I'll tell you all about it." It was really sweet. I think he could totally go all the way.
TVGuide.com: On our updated poll, Shawn [Johnson] is leading to win.
O'Dell: Oh, she did great, didn't she?! How am I doing on the updated poll?
TVGuide.com: Well you're not there anymore, unfortunately.
O'Dell: Darn it! [Laughs] Well, I guess Shawn does have a fanbase and she did so well last night. She's so freakin' cute. She's so little. You just wanna squeeze her. I was thinking, if ever at one point during the show, they had me, Lil Kim and Shawn, people would be like, "How tall is she? 6'5"?" They're both 4-feet something and I'm 5 feet 10. Lil Kim was good too and so sweet.
TVGuide.com: Do you think Melissa's going to get sympathy votes?
O'Dell: Oh, absolutely. I think her dancing deserves it, but she'll definitely get some sympathy votes because we're all mad at Jason! [Laughs] I said to her, "Now, look at you. You go danced like that after two days and you look tremendous. What do you want to say to Jason?" And she said, "Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha."
TVGuide.com: Would Jason ever be invited on?
O'Dell: I think it would be funny for Jason and Tony to do a dance-off. Wouldn't that be great? We could humiliate him.
TVGuide.com: You could train him for two days like Melissa.
O'Dell: Yeah and then make him do it and see how he does. This is a good idea we're having right now.