Dancing With the Stars 2016 Premiere: Are Jodie Sweetin and Mischa Barton the Ones to Beat?


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Welcome back, fellow Dancing With the Stars fans! We’re a couple of Hough family members short, one head judge is back, and plenty of bad dancing, awkward facial expressions, and entertaining contestants are here to keep us firmly in front of the TV every Monday night. But who’s the front-runner? Who was exceptionally bad? And what did everyone think about their performances after the show? Let’s get to it!

Ballroom Rumblings: Mischa Barton didn’t have a good night, and presumably because of that, she skipped most of the press post-show, letting Artem handle it by himself. If that was the case, it’s disappointing, because Mischa is a contestant that fans (especially those of The O.C.) really want to see succeed. They want this to be her comeback moment, but based on her intro package and first night jitters, DWTS may not be that vehicle.

Meanwhile, there were plenty of DWTS alumni in the audience, including Maksim Chermkovskiy (rooting on his fiance, Peta Murgatroyd), Emma Slater (cheering for boyfriend Sasha Farber), season 20 contestant Chris Soules, Facts of Life star Mindy Cohn, season 21’s Carlos PenaVega and Alexa PenaVega, and contestant/sometime-host Leah Remini.

Backstage Interviews: Dancing with the Stars is exhausting, but Kim Fields didn’t get that memo, because the Real Housewives of Atlanta star was all energy backstage. Wasn’t she nervous at all, especially being the first one to perform? “No, because I feel like Sasha really prepared me for this moment that I didn’t feel nervous. I was excited!” said the former Facts of Life actress. Sasha revealed that the secret formula is as simple as getting his partner to laugh. “I need to make her laugh, cause she has this amazing laugh! That’s what I love.” And what does Sasha need in return? “Just being absolutely as free as possible for him,” said Kim.

Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris was also enjoying his time in the spotlight thanks to a charismatic and impressive cha-cha. His partner, Lindsay Arnold, was beaming as well, telling Glamour that she was so happy with the judges scores. Still, “it is week one, and we wanna have somewhere to go. We have a lot of stuff we can go and work on, and next week we’re gonna come out even stronger.” Of course, I couldn’t let Wanya go without expressing some disappointment that Jodie Sweetin didn’t get to dance to “Motownphilly” since it was the song that Stephanie Tanner danced to in one of her most memorable recitals. “I remember that!” laughed Wanya of that early Full House episode. Still, “a lot of people don’t know me outside of Boyz II Men, [so performing] it was also something to give people a taste of who I am. I think it was fitting, but [Jodie’s] got other songs [to choose from]! She did pretty good with the song she has!” So could Jodie borrow “Motownphilly” for later on in the competition? “She can borrow anything she wants after I’m done with it!” joked Wanya. As for what’s coming up for Wanya and Lindsay, she revealed that they’ll be taking on the salsa. Maybe to the Full House theme song, perhaps? “Yep! You nailed it!” said Lindsay. “We asked Jodie, and she said it was fine.”

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Sharna Burgess and partner Antonio Brown were having all sorts of fun posing for the official Twitter mirror backstage, and when I asked if he was feeling the pressure going from the end zone to the ballroom, he emphatically said no. “There’s never no pressure if you prepared,” he stated matter-of-factly. “You prepare, and put a lot of hours into it, and a lot of mental notes, it wasn’t no pressure, it was about going out and having fun and enjoying the moment. No pressure at all.” OK, but is he for real? “Yes,” said Sharna. “He’s a really calm, collected person. He exudes positivity all the time. Like, I had my usual little butterflies, and then I was good. I took one look at him, and he was a sure thing. He was gonna go out there and be solid. I, however, had no idea that he was gonna perform the heck out of it like that. That was some next level, I don’t know, where it came from, but it was amazing.”

Still, there’s a few lessons Antonio could stand to learn, and one of them is punctuality. “I learned if I show up on time, it’s a great day.” But this is no 5-10 minute tardy problem. “Um, it’s usually like an hour, or 45 minutes,” he revealed. “Sometimes an hour and half,” added Sharna. “So what I do is I give him a fake call time, which is an hour before we start!” OK, but now that Antonio knows Sharna’s plan, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? “Yeah, but he never really knows if I’m doing this or not, because sometimes I can’t because of other things during the day. But, what I’ve learned beyond that, is Antonio works well with great energy. I see him standing there and picturing [the dance] in his head before he does it. I learn like that. So, it’s quite fascinating to work with him.”

Tardiness aside, I couldn’t help but admire Antonio’s bling around his neck, and when I asked him if that was a gift from DWTS, he firmly explained otherwise. “The show couldn’t buy me diamonds, so I buy it myself.” Oh, Antonio, you’re gonna be a fun one…

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd were the only couple to get unanimous applause backstage in the pressroom, and when told of the accolades, Nyle and Peta were both noticeably moved. But let’s get to serious matters. How was Nyle’s first DWTS spray tan? “I actually didn’t get one!” he admitted to me backstage. “They just put some tanning lotion on me [instead]!”

Working with an entirely deaf contestant is a challenge for Peta, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. So how is she giving Nyle the guidance he needs to prepare him each week? “I have to be extremely visual. Obviously he can’t hear me, so I have to make pictures, do stuff with my hands, and just be really big and obvious. The second thing, repetition. He needs to know how long to hold something for, and sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes he’s a little faster or a little slower, so we work on it to make sure he understands.”

One thing that Peta didn’t intend to give Nyle was four stitches above his eyebrow, thanks to a dance move gone wrong. “It was one of the best rehearsals we ever had,” explained Nyle, “and she said, ‘Oh, let’s do one more time to end.’ That’s when the elbow hit me in the eyebrow, and four stitches later…I’m OK. I was laughing the whole time.”

Geraldo Rivera was overheard telling ABC News Radio that he “sucked tonight,” which he reiterated to me moments later. “Yeah, I did. Compared to rehearsals, I really blew it. It’s hard to say [why it happened], but the first move I blew was so simple. It was a couple of spins.” Truthfully, it was more than a couple of spins, but props to Geraldo for owning up to his less-than-impressive dance. So what would he like to do better next time? “Just focus, be loose and have fun. Nothing to lose now. And, if you laugh at yourself, you’ll always have the last laugh. That’s the key.” Echoed partner Edyta Sliwinska: “We need to keep it in perspective. It’s a dance competition. It’s not life or death. I absolutely get [the pressure], and Geraldo was saying this is more terrifying than going through a minefield. And he’s been to war zones! This is only entertainment.” Next up? The salsa.

Witney Carson‘s former partners Alfonso Ribeiro and Chris Soules both took time to offer Denver Broncos Super Bowl MVP Von Miller some friendly advice before the start of the show. “Just relax, live in the moment, and let America see your personality when the dance is over,” said Von of Alfonso’s words of wisdom. So if Von ends up bringing home some new shiny hardware to go next to the MVP trophy, which one would mean more? You might be surprised. “I think the Mirrorball would hold a lot more weight for me, because the MVP trophy is about one guy, and it’s always better to share that glory with somebody else. So I’d be able to share the Mirrorball with Witney forever and ever. She’s my MVP. She’s the best!” Something else surprising? Not only is Witney not a football fan, but apparently Von isn’t either. “I don’t pay attention to football,” Von stated. “I just play.”

Rounding out the NFL family on this season’s DWTS is Doug Flutie, who obviously had a tougher time than his NFL counterparts. “If I would have known what would have worked beforehand, I would have done it,” said Doug of his fox-trot. “My way to get rid of nerves is to break a sweat beforehand, and then dive in. I think I was relaxed as I could be given my first national premiere TV dance competition.”

Doug admitted to me backstage that he found out Von Miller and Antonio Brown would be joining the competition a few days before they all flew to Los Angeles for the promo shoots, and he wasn’t exactly jumping for joy in the beginning. “I was a little bit disappointed, like, ‘Argh [I’m not the only football player in the competition],’ but excited because it’s guys I’m comfortable being around. It’s like a family. You realize it’s a competition, but we’re around each other all the time and rooting for each other. It’s really a cool atmosphere.” Next up for Karina and Doug? The paso doble! “I get to be intense!” said the former Heisman Trophy winner.

UFC fighter Paige VanZant told me that she “felt nervous, but also really good” to get out in front of the live audience. “I told her just to enjoy it,” said partner Mark Ballas. “She’s been doing this one dance for three weeks now. She knows it inside and out. This is an amazing experience. It’s so cool to see her in this light.” Still, “I didn’t know I was going to get that emotional” said Paige about the experience. “Any time I put myself out there, it’s not easy for me, especially having a difficult past. Putting yourself out there is hard. When I fight, I feel like it’s all worth it, and I feel like that here too. It’s a big accomplishment and I am just so happy I get to do this.” So, has Mark’s fiancee, B.C. Jean, given Paige any advice for working with the two-time Mirrorball champion? “She told me that he can have an attitude, and I don’t have to tell him when he’s being mean, just text her and she’ll fix it!” laughed Paige.

As for Mark, this season of Dancing has a bit of a different feel to it since best friend and honorary brother Derek Hough isn’t there. “I wish he was here, but he wants and needs to do something else, and he’s my brother and I support him. I [still] see him every day,” assured Mark. “He [just] needs a break, so I’m quite happy for him. He has some good stuff lined up and I wish him all the success in the world. I’m happy for him.”

For more behind-the-scenes, check out my Snapchat at jradglamour.