Dancing with the Stars is bringing one of its most magical themed nights next Monday as Disney Night takes over the ballroom. In addition to each couple dancing to a popular song from Disney's library — I've listed them off below, after the interview — there will be live performances from Moana's Auli'i Cravalho, Donny Osmond and former winner Alfonso Ribeiro, as well as visits from popular Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck (who will perform a special dance with Witney Carson).
If all that sounds exciting to you, get in line behind host Tom Bergeron, who is the most excited about it of anyone. TVGuide.com got Bergeron on the phone to chat about the themed night, what else is coming this season, and if there's a solution to Dancing's tricky scoring system.
Before we get into Disney Night, let's talk about last week's Most Memorable Year event. That's an event where we always see the stars really blossom. Who do you think took the biggest step this year?
Tom Bergeron: Well in terms of the score, you have to say Rashad [Jennings] won that one. I think he was the highest scorer. But I thought Heather [Morris] had a really nice performance, obviously Simone [Biles]. I'm trying to think of one — they all stepped up during the show. I was saying this during the show that it seemed like — and I'm hard pressed to think of a couple it didn't apply to — they all kind of steppe up their game for that. I think it's the nature of telling a personal story. Nancy Kerrigan, who I've known a little bit over the years from our Boston roots, I've been really taken with how into this she is. She's really into this whole competition, it's really nice to see.
My frontrunner seems to change every week, I think this is one of the seasons with the most parity. Who is your current pick to win it all?
Who is it?
Bergeron: I'm not gonna tell ya. I'll make a promise, I'll tell you after the season if they win and I was right. [Laughs.]
Disney Night on Monday! What should we be excited for?
Bergeron: I'm very excited about the young actress — I actually saw her teach Dwayne Johnson how to say her name. It's Auli'i Cravalho. I thought not only is she wonderful in Moana, she blew it out of the water at the Oscars. So I'm excited about seeing her. Donny Osmond is coming back, we'll have Alfonso [Ribiero] do a number with the cast off the top, former champion himself. Inevitably one of the things I love about, I get to interact with animation as well as Bruno. [Laughs.] I once told Bruno on air he's about half a jester away from living in Pixar.
With the ABC/Disney synergy going on, there's some great opportunities for other themed nights. I'd love to see a Marvel night, or a Star Wars night, do you think they'd be a good fit for Dancing with the Stars?
Bergeron: I know I'd love to see it as well. I don't see any reason why the Hulk and Thor couldn't promote their next movie by doing a Paso Doble!
Thor better watch out for his feet on that one. What other theme nights do we have coming this season?
Bergeron: Let's see, it's Boy Bands vs. Girl Groups, then Night at the Movies. That takes us to Week 7. Before you know it we'll be at the semifinals. That's the thing about these seasons, I'm always astounded at how fast they go.
Bergeron: It's not unlike controversies we've had going back to Season 1, where there are people who have some dance background, whether it's ballroom or not. Whether it's an athlete who is an Olympian or someone who was in a boy band. Ultimately it's going to be what you see in front of you, it's going to be the personalities. Do they engage you as a viewer? Anyone who has had a career in the business is going to be a hyphenate to some degree. Heather's had more than most, and I think Maks pointed it out in the first week that the bar is going to be a little higher for them. So it's a reality and I'm sure it's something they've factored into what they're doing.
Speaking of Maks, do you have an update on his condition?
Bergeron: I talked to him last Monday during a commercial to see how he's doing, and I know he was hopeful to get back for Disney Night, but by the same token, the nature of that injury is something you don't want to rush because if you re-injure it you could be looking at some serious issues. I'm just hoping he takes whatever time he needs to make sure that he's capable of doing it again and not rush in at an arbitrary week.
Another question about Maks, my colleague Joyce Eng used to speak with you a few seasons ago, and we wanted to know if Maks is still pinching your butt.
Bergeron: Yes! He did it on the first week, I even commented about it, I said, "For old time's sake" or something like that. [Laughs.]
One final question, the scoring system on Dancing with the Stars doesn't seem like it's always fair. Sometimes couples are out there when they've already been eliminated, but they don't know it yet. I think Terra Jolé was eliminated on the same night she got a perfect score. Is there any solution for this?
Bergeron: The only solution would be to have a results show again. That really was the only way to do it that made sense, you did the show on a Monday, you voted, and we had a results show on a Tuesday. So once the results shows went away, there was really no other way to do it — at least that I've thought of — other than carrying the vote over a week. Inevitably, it leads to one couple who has danced a dance and have already been voted off, they just don't know it yet.
Here is the song and dance list for each couple performing on Disney Night:
Simone Biles & Sasha Farber - Contemporary - "How Far I'll Go" performed by Auli'i Cravalho, music & lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, from "Moana" - Live Performance by Auli'i Cravalho
Bonner Bolton & Sharna Burgess - Tango - "When Can I See You Again?" by Owl City from "Wreck-It Ralph"
Erika Jayne & Gleb Savchenko - Viennese Waltz - "Unforgettable" by Sia from "Finding Dory"
Rashad Jennings & Emma Slater - Foxtrot - "Evermore" by Josh Groban from Walt Disney Pictures' "Beauty and the Beast"
Nancy Kerrigan & Artem Chigvintsev - Jazz - "That's How You Know" by Amy Adams from "Enchanted"
Normani Kordei & Valentin Chmerkovskiy - Paso Doblé - "I'll Make a Man Out of You" by Donny Osmond from "Mulan" - Live Performance by Donny Osmond
Heather Morris & Maksim Chmerkovskiy - Jazz - "For the First Time in Forever" by Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, music & lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from "Frozen"
David Ross & Lindsay Arnold - Jive - "Ride" by ZZ Ward from "Cars 3" - Live Performance by ZZ Ward
Nick Viall & Peta Murgatroyd - Jazz - "I've Got No Strings" as sung by Dickie Jones from "Pinocchio"
Dancing with the Stars airs Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.