“Dancing with the Stars” season 28 has only just begun, but already thbere has been drama. The casting of former White House press secretary and professional liar Sean Spicer was greeted with widespread derision, even by the show’s host, Tom Bergeron. Fellow contestant Karamo Brown got in hot water for defending Spicer online. Two pro dancers were unceremoniously dropped from the show. And then Christie Brinkley had to drop out due to injury at the last minute. So was the season premiere as eventful as all the drama behind the scenes? Find out below in our live blog with all the minute-by-minute developments as they happen.
Brinkley was replaced in the cast by her daughter Sailor Brinkley-Cook, so the season still started with a dozen celebs. In addition to her, Spicer and Brown, the ballroom welcomed actors James Van Der Beek, Kel Mitchell and Kate Flannery; singers Lauren Alaina, Ally Brooke and Mary Wilson; athletes Ray Lewis and Lamar Odom; and “Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown.
This is the first season of the show since Bobby Bones controversially won last fall despite consistently getting some of the lowest scores from the judges. So voting is a little different this time around, though it remains to be seen whether those changes will be for the better: there was no audience voting at all on night one, just the judges’ scores. In week two the audience gets to chime in, but voting will take place live during the show, not afterwards as in the past, which is bad news for anyone who can’t watch live on the east coast, who will have to vote blind, if at all.
So what did you think of the season’s first performances? Who is looking especially strong in the battle for the Mirror Ball Trophy, and who should pack up their dancing shoes and go home? Find out below starting at 8:00pm (times listed are Eastern).
Daniel Montgomery, 8:00pm — It’s time to start a new season of “DWTS,” which has already gotten off to a rocky start with Sean Spicer’s casting, pro dancers dropped abruptly, interesting voting changes, and an injury before anyone even started dancing. Gulp!
Cordell Martin, 8:02pm — Come through, new intro and set design.
Jeffrey Kare, 8:02pm — Yeah, everything looks better than ever.
CM, 8:03pm — Too bad the casting couldn’t match this.
DM, 8:04pm — Spicer’s attempt at image rehab starts with him dressed like a fluorescent green chicken. Isn’t it funny! Also, wasn’t it funny how Spicer said Hitler didn’t gas his own people when talking about Syrian president Assad? What a knee-slapper that was!
CM, 8:05pm — Kate Flannery and Mary Wilson look amazing.
Hannah Brown and Alan Bersten (Cha Cha)
DM, 8:05pm — “I’ve been through a lot,” says Hannah about getting engaged on “The Bachelorette” and then breaking up soon thereafter. And out of the limo comes her partner Alan Bersten, who gives him her rose.
DM, 8:08pm — Not 100% perfect, but she can hang, and she’s got the leg action to potentially go far if she can clean it up a bit.
CM, 8:08pm — I agree. Hannah reminds me a lot of Melissa Rycroft
JK, 8:09pm — Yeah, I thought that was skillfully energetic.
JUDGES — Len Goodman thought it was “crisp, clean and confident” and “a wonderful way to kick off the show. Bruno Tonioli thought she has the “right attitude” and was “expressive,” but she needs to be careful “not to lose balance … and don’t ever rush the music.” Carrie Ann Inaba says she has the right “posture,” but wasn’t quite under her feet at first, and she has “great form.”
8:11pm — Hannah thinks Alan can “handle” her because she’s a “roller coaster of emotions.” As long as poor Alan can avoid another showmance.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (7), Bruno (6) = 20 out of 30
CM, 8:12pm — Really Bruno? LOL
DM, 8:13pm — Those were fair. Gotta leave some room since she’s the first performance.
Kel Mitchell and Witney Carson (Tango)
DM, 8:16pm — Mitchell meets his partner Witney, who says, “‘Good Burger’ was my favorite movie growing up,” making us all feel very old.
DM, 8:19pm — He’s got potential, but I’m not sure how much based on that dance. I need to see him in other styles and in a dance better matched to the song. That was a weird fit for the Jonas Brothers‘ “Sucker.”
JK, 8:19pm — I agree, he probably needs room to grow.
JUDGES — Bruno liked seeing a serious side of him, but warns him not to “step and jump” the tango, and he went on the wrong foot, but he was glad to see a proper tango. Carrie Ann is “very excited” even though he had timing issues and lost his grip on Witney a couple of times. Len liked Kel’s “attack” and “attitude,” and he has “potential,” but Len wanted to see more heel leads and “the holds got loose.”
SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (5), Bruno (5) = 16 out of 30
CM, 8:23pm — What the hell? Spicer better get 3s!
DM, 8:23pm — Lower than I expected, but I did think Hannah was better than he was.
JK, 8:24pm — I was predicting three 6s for Kel.
Kate Flannery and Pasha Pashkov (Cha Cha)
DM, 8:27pm — Hooray for Kate! I’m hoping she has the moves, but at the very least I think her humor could be a breath of fresh air this season. She’s got the new partner, so fingers crossed. And she says she danced some in college, but not ballroom. This has potential.
DM, 8:29pm — A decent first dance. Her moves were quite tentative, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her around for a while.
CM, 8:31pm — I love how committed she is to the dance.
JUDGES — Carrie Ann was “impressed” by how “clear and sure-footed” she was, but she “rushed the music.” Len tells Kate to straighten her legs to bring her the hip action she needs, but her attitude is “terrific.” Bruno warns her to “be careful” and finish her movements, and also to work on her hip action.
JK, 8:32pm — I thought the routine overall was alright, but she also probably needs room to grow as well.
CM, 8:32pm — I’m glad that she went out there and tried instead of relying on humor to sell the dance.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (5), Len (5), Bruno (5) = 15 out of 30
DM, 8:33pm — Fair scores.
Lamar Odom and Peta Murgatroyd (Foxtrot)
DM, 8:37pm — Let’s see if Lamar will have any better luck than previous basketball players. As a sport on “DWTS” it’s like the opposite of football. It seems like footballers always do great while basketballers are cursed, possibly because of height difference problems. In this case, Lamar is 6-foot-10 and Peta is only 5-foot-7.
DM, 8:39pm — Bless his heart, he seems really sweet and committed, but he was basically walking through that routine.
CM, 8:41pm — Yikes.
JK, 8:41pm — What the hell was that?!
JUDGES — Len admits it’s “difficult” when there’s such a height difference, but it needed more “smoothness” and “elegance.” It “lacked finesse.” Bruno thought he had a couple of “nice lines” at the beginning, but he was focusing so much on the steps that he never got into the dance. But Carrie Ann disagrees: she was impressed by Lamar, especially compared to previous basketball players.
JK, 8:42pm — Okay, Len is probably being a little too generous.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (5), Len (3), Bruno (3) = 11 out of 30
JK, 8:44pm — Much lower than anticipated.
DM, 8:44pm — Wow! I can’t remember the last time we saw 3s on this show.
CM, 8:44pm — The judges are brutal tonight.
DM, 8:45pm — I mean, it’s a fair score for that routine, but I think the judges are going to be less pushovers this season, which could be a good thing.
CM, 8:45pm — They better go easy on Mary Wilson.
JK, 8:45pm — I’m already predicting Lamar to be eliminated next week.
CM, 8:45pm — Well, he may get some sympathy votes.
Lauren Alaina and Gleb Savchenko (Cha Cha)
DM, 8:48pm — Bobby Bones tells us that he’s partly responsible for convincing Lauren to compete on the show. I can’t decide if he’ll be a good luck charm or a bad luck charm, but her actual partner is Gleb Savchenko, who says that Lauren checks all the boxes for a dancer he’d like to be paired with.
DM, 8:50pm — Not quite as expressive as she could have been, but I think that was the strongest performance of the night so far.
CM, 8:51pm — I agree. Lauren is going to go far.
JK, 8:52pm — I think that has to be the best performance of the night so far.
JUDGES — Bruno thought it was like watching a “sultry Southern belle,” and “steamy” works for him, and it was a “polished” routine, but he thinks something went wrong on the back step. Carrie thought it was a “powerful cha cha,” but she was a little loose. Len complimented her rhythm, but she didn’t like the beginning when Lauren was sitting in a chair before the actual cha cha choreography kicked in.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (6), Bruno (6) = 19 out of 30
DM, 8:55pm — I feel like we haven’t see a clear front-runner level performance yet. No one who I think, “Oh you’re one to beat!”
CM, 8:55pm — I agree, which I love.
Christie Brinkley Sailor Brinkley-Cook and Val Chmerkovskiy (Foxtrot)
DM, 8:58pm — Val was planning a dance to “Uptown Girl” when Christie had her nasty spill that broke her arm. But now Sailor is dancing with one of the most successful pros on the show, and Val has a younger celeb, which is always an advantage in the competition. But Sailor only had three days to prepare.
DM, 9:01pm — Sailor was solid, not a showstopper, but pretty darn good for just three days’ work. I think she has potential, especially when she gets a regular week and not a last-minute substitution weeks.
CM, 9:02pm — No dance experience???? LOL
JUDGES — Carrie Ann was “blown away” by Sailor’s “poise” and “carefree spirit.” She thinks Val has a “gold mine.” Sailor also floated Len’s boat, but they needed more body contact in hold, and with a little more practice she’ll overcome any problems. Bruno thinks she has the “talent” and “can’t wait to see” what she can achieve with proper rehearsal time.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (6), Bruno (6) = 18 out of 30
JK, 9:05pm — And Sailor now gets the score of the Beast.
JK, 9:05pm — I guess we can now debunk all those rumors Wendy Williams started earlier today about Christie engineering this whole thing to get her daughter on the show. After having only rehearsed for three days, she does an okay job, but clearly needs more experience under her belt.
CM, 9:07pm — She’ll be fine, especially with Val by her side.
Karamo Brown and Jenna Johnson (Salsa)
DM, 9:09pm — “I was like, ‘Please let me be on your show!'” says Karaomo about getting a chance to do “DWTS.” He got Jenna Johnson as a partner. She got Adam Rippon the Mirror Ball Trophy a couple of seasons ago, and I could see these two having similarly strong chemistry.
DM, 9:11pm — I think the cameraman is drunk, but a solid performance by Karamo. He has swagger and rhythm, though his technique needs refining. That has been true of everyone tonight, though.
JK, 9:12pm — Karamo already looks like another one to watch in the competition.
CM, 9:13pm — I was expecting a bit more.
JUDGES — Len thought it was “disappointing,” with “not enough hip action” and lacking rhythm. Len thought he had “good looks” and “good style,” but he agrees with Len about the lack of hip action. Carrie Ann thought Karamo “under-performed” the routine, and has the potential to do better.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (5), Bruno (6) = 17 out of 30
DM, 9:15pm — Again, fair scores. The judges are tough tonight, but (mostly) reasonable with their numbers.
JK, 9:15pm — Maybe there is room for him to improve.
DM, 9:15pm — Definitely. I agree with Carrie Ann there. I think Karamo has all the raw materials, but he could step it up more.
CM, 9:17pm — Yeah hopefully he brings it next week.
Ray Lewis and Cheryl Burke (Salsa)
DM, 9:18pm — Okay, let’s see if Ray Lewis has more of that football magic that often wins the Mirror Ball Trophy. He’s got Cheryl Burke as his partner. She’s a Mirror Ball champ, but she hasn’t won for a while, so let’s see what she can do with him.
DM, 9:21pm — Ray brought more personality to the salsa than Karamo did, but his moves are clunkier.
JK, 9:22pm — It appears to me that Cheryl was doing all the work while Ray was just following her lead.
CM, 9:22pm — He brought more personality than I expected.
JUDGES — Bruno points out that he “went wrong,” but it was a “charismatic” performance. Carrie Ann thought it was “pretty damn good,” and he knows how to bring his “A game.” Len thinks he has “great potential” despite his mistakes.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (5), Len (5), Bruno (5) = 15 out of 30
JK, 9:32pm — As for their score, it seemed fair enough.
DM, 9:32pm — Yeah, relative to all the other scores tonight, those numbers looked about right to me.
Mary Wilson and Brandon Armstrong (Foxtrot)
DM, 9:26pm — I hope Mary does better than a lot of legendary singers the show has had on in the past. I’m rooting for her. I think foxtrot is a good dance for her to start out on.
DM, 9:28pm — Solid work from Mary. I don’t think she’s going to go all the way in the competition, but she held her own, had rhythm, and great personality.
CM, 9:29pm — She looks damn good.
JK, 9:29pm — Yeah, I thought she did a fine job for her first routine.
JUDGES — Carrie Ann called it “true elegance” and “true sophistication,” but there were a few mistakes. Len is the same age as Mary and wishes he could do a foxtrot as well as she just did. Bruno says she knows “how to sell it” and was impressed by her heel turn.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (6), Len (5), Bruno (6) = 17 out of 30
CM, 9:32pm — Okay Mary!
Ally Brooke and Sasha Farber (Cha Cha)
DM, 9:35pm — Let’s see if Ally can make some magic like Normani did a few seasons ago. Based on the performances so far, the competition is wide open, so she could make a big statement tonight. Sasha thinks he hit the “jackpot.”
DM, 9:37pm — Ten seconds in, and she was already the front-runner. Could use refining, but from that performance I think she might have the strongest performance of anyone who has performed so far.
JK, 9:39pm — I agree, I thought that routine was excellent!
CM, 9:40pm — Great job, Ally
JUDGES — Len didn’t like the “hip-thrusting” and “gyrating.” He would have liked more actual cha cha, but Ally is “a very competent dancer.” Bruno loves her “sense of attack,” but sometimes gets “muddled”; she needs to make sure she’s right on the music and not ahead of it. Carrie also thought it was lacking balance, but she has “great potential.”
SCORES — Carrie Ann (5), Len (5), Bruno (6) = 16 out of 30
DM, 9:41pm — Those 5s were too low, should have at least been 6s across the board.
CM, 9:42pm — I predict Ally to be in the bottom three next week.
DM, 9:43pm — Funny that Hannah Brown was the first performance, and she’s still the highest score.
CM, 9:43pm — I called it!
Sean Spicer and Lindsay Arnold (Salsa)
DM, 9:44pm — Time for Spicey. He says his time in the White House was tumultuous and gave people a one-dimensional look at who he is as a person. I know, I hate it when people get the wrong idea about me after I spread lies for a fascist demagogue. He says going in front of the press was daunting, but not nearly as tough as “DWTS.” Yeah, like that time he hid in the bushes after his boss tried to obstruct justice by firing the director of the FBI. Wacky!
JK, 9:50pm — I have no idea what to make of that performance.
JUDGES — Bruno thought Sean’s hips were set in cement, but it was “strangely entertaining.” Carrie Ann says he had the “best fluorescent shimmy” and appreciates his sense of fun even though he was off the beat for most of the song. Len admires his courage, which he notably lacked when on his very first day of the job he set the tone for the Trump administration by embarrassingly lying about Trump’s crowd size. But he’s happy Trump tweeted support for him! In-between tweeting racism, cruelty, and threats of course — good for him!
SCORES — Carrie Ann (4), Len (4) Bruno (4) = 12 out of 30
DM, 9:51pm — Spicer thinks people have gotten their revenge on him by getting to see him in a ridiculous outfit. But those aren’t the consequences I would have in mind for aiding and abetting the guy who puts kids in cages and inspires white supremacist terrorists. Go crawl back under the rock you crawled out of, Spicey.
JK, 9:53pm — Already, I’m predicting it’ll come down to Sean and Lamar for the elimination next week.
CM, 9:53pm — Let’s hope. I know Lamar must be pissed.
James Van Der Beek and Emma Slater (Tango)
DM 9:54pm — Time to wash the bad taste of Spicer out of our mouths with a refreshing glass of Van Der Beek. They’re doing the tango, which sounds like a good routine for him. He could really bring some swagger to this one.
DM, 9:56pm — Great posture, great timing, impressive swagger, definitely has potential to win this thing.
CM, 9:58pm — Dance of the night.
JK, 9:58pm — They certainly saved the best for last. “Dawson’s Creek” must’ve spawned quite a bit of talented dancers. First, Michelle Williams in “Fosse/Verdon,” now this.
JUDGES — Carrie Ann thinks “we have a leading man in the house.” She liked everything except for needing to point his toes more. Len thought it was “terrific” with “drive” and “purpose.” Bruno loved how “charismatic,” “in character and in control” he was, and he had great lines.
SCORES — Carrie Ann (7), Len (7) Bruno (7) = 21 out of 30
1. James Van Der Beek — Carrie Ann (7), Len (7) Bruno (7) = 21 out of 30
2. Hannah Brown — Carrie Ann (7), Len (7), Bruno (6) = 20 out of 30
3. Lauren Alaina — Carrie Ann (7), Len (6), Bruno (6) = 19 out of 30
4. Sailor Brinkley-Cook — Carrie Ann (6), Len (6), Bruno (6) = 18 out of 30
5. Karamo Brown — Carrie Ann (6), Len (5), Bruno (6) = 17 out of 30
5. Mary Wilson — Carrie Ann (6), Len (5), Bruno (6) = 17 out of 30
7. Ally Brooke — Carrie Ann (5), Len (5), Bruno (6) = 16 out of 30
7. Kel Mitchell — Carrie Ann (6), Len (5), Bruno (5) = 16 out of 30
9. Ray Lewis — Carrie Ann (5), Len (5), Bruno (5) = 15 out of 30
9. Kate Flannery — Carrie Ann (5), Len (5), Bruno (5) = 15 out of 30
11. Sean Spicer — Carrie Ann (4), Len (4) Bruno (4) = 12 out of 30
12. Lamar Odom — Carrie Ann (5), Len (3), Bruno (3) = 11 out of 30
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