Get ready for a major format tweak: Dancing With the Stars is planning a Classical Theme Week in early April. "It's quite ballsy to do two hours of classical music in primetime," says executive producer Conrad Green, who is looking for ways to keep the competition fresh in its twelfth season.
The classical twist will be a big change. For that one week, the two spiral ballroom staircases will disappear, making room for a 38-piece orchestra playing selections along the lines of "Beethoven's 5th." "We're rebuilding the whole upstage area to accommodate all those musicians," says Green.
That week, DWTS will also showcase heavyweight classical performers such as heartthrob violinist David Garrett. "So we'll add a little music at the top of the dance numbers where [the contestants] don't dance, and where the viewers will see a little bit more of the instrumental," adds Green.
That new theme fits in nicely with what is shaping up to be a highly unpredictable season. There are no golly-gee-whiz names like Bristol Palin or Pamela Anderson on the dance floor. And there are no ringers along the lines of a Nicole Scherzinger or Kristi Yamaguchi. For the first time in a long time, the show is a wide-open field where no one is a shoe-in for the mirror ball trophy — and where almost everyone believes they're going to be voted off on Tuesday night.
"I think it's our most even cast in terms of ability," says Green. "The people who aren't as good could get a lot better. And I don't think anyone's so amazing that they stand out above everyone else."
Last night, the jive and the quick step — easily two of the most difficult dances — separated the men from the boys. Last week's top dazzlers, Ralph Macchio and Kirstie Alley, had to take a back seat as NFL star Hines Ward, rapper Romeo and pro wrestler Chris Jericho surged forward. That left Disney star Chelsea Kane, among others, chewing her knuckles after getting her wrist slapped for an unorthodox jive. Her partner, two-time champ Mark Ballas, was unapologetic. "It's a dance competition and you danced your ass off," Ballas told Kane. "The judges shouldn't have penalized her for what I decided we were going to do."