How many hit shows star an acerbic Brit, a Hollywood choreographer and a guy you've never heard of before? Well, now there are two. ABC's Dancing with the Stars, which turns celebrities into ballroom dancers within weeks, has become a summer sensation. Here we look at the judges who will help decide which couple will walk off with the winners' trophy.
Len Goodman, 61, took up ballroom dancing when he was 20 years old after a soccer injury. "My doctor suggested it because it would exercise my foot," says Goodman, who comes from London. He soon became a top competitive dancer and owner of a successful dance school, but he became a star as a judge on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing, on which Dancing with the Stars is based.
Who had the steepest learning curve on the U.S. version? "Definitely Evander Holyfield. John O'Hurley is from a period where men did some sort of dancing. Ladies are always quicker at picking up the steps."
Carrie Ann Inaba, 37, knows what all novice dancers go through. She's choreographed TV pageants and reality shows. She even taught Rick Rockwell which knee to go down on when he proposed to Darva Conger on the infamous Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?
Inaba was a teen pop star in Japan before studying choreography at the University of California at Irvine. She soon became a Fly Girl on In Living Color. She proves that not all Hollywood choreographers are flakes. "I'm sure people thought I was going to be the Paula of the group," she says, "but I don't think that's how it's turned out."
Bruno Tonioli, 49, originally from Italy, is another Strictly Come Dancing import. He spent two decades as a choreographer for TV, films, concert tours and videos.
Who made the best early impression on him? "Rachel Hunter had a sense of using her body in relation to the stage and the dance floor," he says. "That was quite surprising for a model. I've worked with quite a few, and usually they are a nightmare."