ABC/Rick Rowell(NEW YORK) — The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star Alfonso Ribeiro was the early standout during the Monday premiere of the 19th season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, while designer Betsey Johnson and Olympian Lolo Jones suffered significant missteps during their routines.
Ribeiro finished in the lead among the 13 celebrities who are vying for the coveted Mirrorball Trophy.
This year’s celebrity cast includes reality TV personality Sadie Robertson, who appears in Duck Dynasty; YouTube beauty guru Bethany Mota; and NASCAR legend Michael Waltrip.
The pairs were scored by judges and will earn votes from the audience. The couple with the lowest combined total of judges’ scores and audience votes will be eliminated. The first elimination of the season will come during a results show Tuesday.
The judges’ panel was expanded this year to include former Dancing With the Stars pro dancer Julianne Hough, a two-time Mirrorball champion herself and sister of current pro Derek Hough. Julianne Hough evaluated performances alongside head judge Len Goodman and judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
Antonio Sabato Jr.: The General Hospital actor’s cha cha with Cheryl Burke drew moderate praise. Said Goodman: “Well it’s obvious that you’ve got dancing in your blood. Unfortunately it hasn’t reached your feet.” Hough said Sabato’s performance was “a little flat-footed” but she liked his extensions. Tonioli liked that Burke gave Sabato “a lot of content” for the first week and said Sabato had good hip action, while Inaba said the couple had “hot chemistry” that would lead to higher expectations. Goodman, Hough and Inaba each gave Sabato a 6, while Tonioli gave him a 7, for a total of 25 out of a possible 40.
Lea Thompson: The Back to the Future actress, who was a ballet dancer decades ago, earned warm praise from the judges for her elegance, but they cautioned her to watch her posture. “It was beautiful! It was so beautiful. It made me so happy,” Hough said. Tonioli agreed, describing Thompson’s quality of movement as “exquisite.” Inaba said she thought it was one of the “best first foxtrots I have ever seen…you guys are a really well-balanced team,” and Goodman said it “was terrific. Well done.” Thompson earned four 8s for a total of 32 points.
Janel Parrish: The judges liked the spirited jive that Parrish and partner Valentin Chmerkovskiy delivered. “Naughty! Naughty! Naughty!” Tonioli said, although he said Parrish needed to polish her jive moves. Inaba liked that Parrish had the courage to “just go for it,” adding: “You’ve got great potential.” Goodman said it was “a bit untidy on occasion” but said, overall, it was well done, while Hough said Parrish was a true performer. Tonioli awarded Parrish an 8, while the others each gave her a 7 for a total of 29 points.
Lolo Jones: The Olympian’s cha cha with pro partner Keo Motsepe ran into trouble at the start because of a missed cue that affected her time throughout the majority of the routine, and during her judges’ critique a frustrated Jones acknowledged her performance was “awful.” Hough commended her for picking the routine up again and said she needed to work on her fluidity. Tonioli told Jones that all performers mess up at times and told her to come back next week and show something better. Goodman told Jones not to be too hard on herself, adding: “You had personality, you had a bit of sizzle going on so it’s not all bad.” Inaba said, “Lolo, truthfully that was more like an ‘uh oh.'” Jones earned two 6s and two 5s for a total of 22 points.
Betsey Johnson: A stubborn prop feather boa derailed the flamboyant fashion designer’s spunky cha cha with partner Tony Dovolani. When Johnson tried to retrieve the hot pink boa from a prop rack the garment got stuck. When she tugged, it fell onto the floor and got caught between the dancers. Then Dovolani bent down to retrieve the boa and the routine petered out. Despite the malfunction, Johnson finished the routine with her trademark cartwheel and split. “I was enjoying it so much. It was so entertaining and then the disaster with the boa. I’m so upset,” Goodman said. Hough said Johnson had “some really wonderful moments,” and Tonioli added, “You just went for it with gusto. It went wrong.” Johnson earned four 5s for a total of 20 points.
Tavis Smiley: The talk show host and partner Sharna Burgess earned praise for their foxtrot. “I like watching you dance because you’re one of those people who’s like a natural mover…you move so well, so natural, so likeable. Well done,” Inaba told Smiley. Hough said Smiley’s routine was “awesome” and that he looked comfortable on the dance floor, and Goodman said Smiley needed to work on his footwork but that the routine was fun and enjoyable. Tonioli said he loved “the comedic touches” and urged Smiley not to throw his arms. Smiley earned an 8 from Hough and 7s from the other judges for a total of 29 points.
Sadie Robertson: The Duck Dynasty star’s cha cha with Mark Ballas earned praise from the judges. “Duckling no more. Here we’ve got a bird of paradise!” Tonioli said. Added an approving Goodman: “Quack! Quack! You’ll be back.” Hough called Robertson “the entire package.” Inaba said Robertson had gorgeous lines. Inaba and Goodman awarded her 8s while Hough and Tonioli gave her 9s for a total of 34 points.
Michael Waltrip: The NASCAR racer’s cha cha with Emma Slater drew mixed review from the judges. “I liked it…I think you did fantastic. It was fun, entertaining, well done, simple,” Inaba said. Hough said it was “awesome” and noted that it seemed Waltrip was having so much fun. But in comparing Waltrip with Slater, Tonioli said “you looked at times like a golf cart trying to keep up with a Ferrari,” and Goodman made another car analogy: “The engine was running but you never got out of first gear.” Waltrip earned three 6s and a 7 for a total of 25.
Jonathan Bennett: The Mean Girls actor’s bubbly jive with Allison Holker earned him a standing ovation from the ballroom audience. “You’re a polished performer…I’m, like, blown away,” Inaba said. Hough called Bennett “such a natural performer” and told him he had potential. Goodman agreed, telling him to “work hard.” Bennett earned two 7s and two 8s for a total of 30 points.
Tommy Chong: The comedian’s cool cha cha with pro partner Peta Murgatroyd — and a cameo from his comedy partner, Cheech Marin — brought smiles to the judges’ faces. “You are extremely sexy,” Hough told Chong, adding: “You have the moves like nobody’s business.” Tonioli confessed that he’d been expected “bad grandpa. I’m getting cool grandpa.” Goodman said it was painless, fun and enjoyable. Inaba added: “That was fantastic! You came in like a low rider … you killed it!” Chong earned three 7s and a 6 for a total of 27 points.
Randy Couture: Judges were full of praise for the mixed martial artist and action movie star’s smooth foxtrot with partner Karina Smirnoff. Hough and Inaba both found the actor’s performance sexy, with Hough telling him: “Randy, you’re making me randy…you have grace and you have class and there’s a sensitive beauty about you.” Inaba said she prided herself in being professional but couldn’t help feeling “a little weak in the knees…you are sexy out there!” Goodman said the performance “had a charm about it,” and Tonioli said Couture was light on his feet. Couture earned three 8s and a 7 for a total of 31 points.
Bethany Mota: The YouTube sensation earned good reviews for her jive with partner Derek Hough. Inaba found the routine “tight, clean and well-rehearsed,” but said there were lulls in Mota’s energy. Hough agreed. Goodman thought Mota should keep her diary clear as he found the routine “terrific.” Added Tonioli: “Huge on the Web and pretty good on the dance floor as well…I’m telling you, you were wonderful.” Mota earned four 8s for a total of 32 points.
Alfonso Ribeiro: Ribeiro’s and pro partner Witney Carson’s electrifying jive earned them a standing ovation, including from Goodman. “Beautiful routine. Fantastically danced,” Goodman said. “That was without question the best dance of the night.” Hough said she was “blown about by the musicality in that,” and commended Carson’s choreography. Tonioli said Ribeiro was the “king of the night” and Inaba said Ribeiro had “the swagger of season 19…you just raised the stakes my friend! Excellent.” Ribeiro earned 36 points, the highest score of the night.
ABC will air the results show Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: 36
Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: 34
Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev : 32
Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: 32
Randy Couture and Karina Smirnoff : 31
Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker: 30
Janel Parrish and Valentin Chmerkovskiy: 29
Tavis Smiley and Sharna Burgess: 29
Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: 27
Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater: 25
Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke: 25
Lolo Jones and Keo Motsepe: 22
Betsey Johnson and Tony Dovolani: 20
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