Things are starting to heat up with regard to Season 18 rumors, but who really knows how many of those rumors are going to actually materialize into reality? If our track record is any indication, we will have a prediction success rate of zero percent, but it still is fun to speculate. So yes, we’re speculating again with some wild and crazy scenarios.
Tristan – Nastia Liukin – Normally we would say that she would be off limits because of her studies, and we aren’t even sure if she’s finished with them or not, but we do know she is in Sochi for the Olympics as a special correspondent or reporter or something which means she is not in New York at NYU. The timing is perfect, and the timing for Tristan is perfect too. Gymnasts don’t have to go to Mark, Derek, or Sasha, and Tristan is the equal of every pro on DWTS in every department, but he excels especially in one category; he knows how to tell the story to fit the choreography. This would be a perfect partnership. She is 24 years old, she is 5’3” tall, and it seems like the perfect all-around DWTS team to us. Classic ballroom, sexy Latin – all of it works. Oh yeah, and we don’t have to have crazy gymnastics to prove the point. Option 2: Vanessa Williams – Ringer? Well, duh. She was in a dance film Dance With Me With Chayanne, but she’s no more a ringer than Jennifer Grey, Elizabeth Berkley, etc. etc. She’s 50, 5’6” tall and we are already imagining the Rumba/Tango/Paso possibilities. Option 3: Vanessa Marcil, age 43, 5’3”. She would bring in the General Hospital voting block which is always good. Option 4: Helen Mirren – Yes, she is 68 but the woman is smokin' and still doing action movies and has gotten nekked more than once on screen even in her golden years. We still want Tristan with a younger partner, but this is the exception that would make us salivate. She may be a little too A-list for the show but we can hope.
Derek - Lori Loughlin – Actuially Lee Meriwether is our first choice for Derek but we all know DWTS would never, ever pair Derek with a partner over the age of 55 (and probably not 45 again) and Lee is 78. Tristan would likely earn the honor, but more on that later. This is almost too easy but we say Lori and Derek would be a good pairing. She is 49 and 5’6” so there’s no problem there. Of Full House fame (and much, much more), she would bring the energy and fun that we all want to see. The only problem is that she has a TV series When Calls the Heart which currently airs on the Hallmark Channel. We have no clue how that would work but we think she would be a decent cast addition.
Sasha - America Ferrera - His inaugural season as a pro was kind of a no-brainer; who better to partner Snooki than Sasha? He was perfect and did a magnificent job. If we had to name a top pro for Season 17, it would be Sasha because nobody thought we would really like Snooki, and we did. That is, in large part, to Sasha’s skills as a teacher and choreographer. Anyway, he earned a repeat performance, but this time he should have a little bit of a challenge – in other words someone without the gymnastics/dance background. Who better than America Ferrera? Adorable. She’s perfect height-wise at 5’1”, she’s 29, and she’s funny. Heck, she would be great with Tristan too. Come to think of it, there isn’t a bad one for Tristan. Why? Because he’s got the magic.
Sharna - Cody Simpson - Forget Witney for this one. Sharna is a seasoned pro who could take this young man and make him a contender. Karina ended up making Aaron Carter a good dancer (relatively), and we think pairing Cody with a young pro like Witney or Lindsay is way too predictable and would probably not yield the desired result. Granted we might not get to see the sexy Samba we would like to see Sharna do (she can dance a pro dance with Tristan instead), but she could make Cody into a real dancer and showcase her great choreography skills.
Emma - Mark Consuelos - Now we have no reason whatsoever for throwing him on this list other than we think his striking good looks combined with Emma’s blondeness would be smoking hot and might take her straight back to the finals. Anybody have a problem with this one?
Karina - Corbin Bernson – He’s 59 and he is another random choice. We don’t see them ageing down the cast as much as they say they will. Just look at Season 17. ABC said they wanted a younger cast and the average age went up instead. Corbin has been around a while, he's a heck of an actor, and we would like to see Karina have to really teach again. Besides, it would be fun to see with Karina with partners named Corbin for two consecutive seasons - two very different partners.
Peta - Bruce Jenner – We’ve had a couple of Kardashian-free seasons, and even though Mr. Jenner isn’t technically a Kardashian, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a whole mess of the family in the audience. The obvious pro partner choice is Cheryl, but we say, nope, it’s time for Peta to step it up. She has had a rather easy run of it the last few seasons, being blessed with fit, agile, popular partners. Bruce is an Olympian who won the decathlon and was once labeled “the greatest athlete in the world.” He’s now 64 and there are so many rumors surrounding him lately that who knows what is truth and what is reality? He would probably have fun, he supposedly wants to do the show, so why not? Option 2: Stephen Collins - We're kind of wondering what Rev. Camden from 7th has been up to, and he's the perfect type of celebrity to be on DWTS.
Kym -John Stamos – Mr. Stamos has been rumored so many times, that we think the time is just right, and Kym is the perfect partner. If it wasn’t for the fact that Tristan is going to be holding up the mirror ball trophy at the end of Season 18, we would say Kym and John would be a lock. We can visualize oodles of chemistry, lots of fun, and plenty of sexiness. It’s all good, and there isn’t a single negative that we can think of.
Cheryl - Jeremy Abbott – He’s the current U.S. Figure Skating champ, he’s off to the Sochi Olympics, he just competed in what he said would be his last U.S. championship, and he’s 28. He’s not a household name - yet - but if he pulls an Evan Lysacek in the Olympics he soon could be. He is supposed to do Stars on Ice in the spring, but Evan did it during his DWTS season and it worked out great. Besides the SOI schedule isn’t nearly as extensive as it was in Season 10. This could be fun. He’s tall like Evan so we would see great lines and extension. Option 2: Charlie White – We still think this is a very real possibility. Charlie is handsome, and blonde and would look great with Cheryl. He is also a hard worker and would take direction from her well.
Tony - Lee Meriwether - This isn’t that far out of left field because we know that if Lee happens to be cast (why not? She’s been rumored season after season) then the likely pairing would be Tristan, BUT, America would stage a revolt like you’ve never seen before if Tristan has yet another partner that more than doubles his age. Nothing against Lee Meriwether; she’s beautiful, talented, and fit. She’s 78 years old and 5’9”. (As we mentioned further up in this blog, Derek would be our first choice, and forget her height. If Val can dance with Zendaya and Elizabeth then Derek can dance with Lee, but ABC would never let it happen.) Option 2: Linda Evans from Dynasty and Big Valley fame. She’s a beauty who is 71 and 5’8” tall. (Regarding Derek as an alternative, he could tailor his choreography for these ladies this time around and could probably give us some great ballroom dances that follow all of Len’s criteria.) Option 3: Lisa Kudrow. Ever since it was rumored that a yogurt spokesperson was going to be on DWTS in Season 17 we thought Lisa would be a great choice. She was the tallest of the female “Friends” so she would pair nicely together with Tony. And let's face it, every season we say that he needs to take a season off, but he never does. We don’t mind too much. He is a gentleman, has a ton of fun with his celebrity partners, and can still give Derek and Mark a run for their money on the dance floor. We haven't had someone from Friends on the show yet, and we think it's about time.
Mark - Jo Dee Messina – She’s 43, 5’3” and might not be enough of a challenge for Mark, considering the fact that he has had some major ringer material for most seasons, but she was almost in last season (or so we heard). She wanted to do the show then but it didn’t work out, so why not now?
Val – Diana Nyad – Every since he appeared on Katie and did an impromptu dance with Diana, we can’t get this idea out of our heads. This swimming legend wants to be on DWTS, DWTS will probably have its official Twitter explode if Val gets another ringer, and Diana is extremely likable. Val seemed to enjoy the experience on Katie and was more charming than we had ever seen him. She’s 64, still ridiculously fit, so why not? Challenge time, Val.
The Unlikely Backup plans:
Nicolette Sheridan - Maks (or Gleb) – Ever since Maks left DWTS they've hinted at him coming back so we might as well give him a celebrity...just in case. We don't know how far these two would get into rehearsals without the claws coming out, but they'd be hot on the dance floor. Tall, dark, and handsome Maks with a sultry blonde Nicolette...very hot. Gleb is our preferred alternative, though, and they would be delicious.
Teri Hatcher – Gleb (or Henry) - It kind of makes sense, you know? She's another desperate housewife and he's the handsome cabana boy. Well that's how we see it anyway. Teri would be an interesting pick and if DWTS wants to give Gleb any chance of making it as a pro then they need to give him someone well known with a pretty decent fan base. Option 2 :Kim Cattrell, for the exact same reasons as Option 1. Basically Gleb needs to work the boy toy fantasy possibilities and get some votes from the female viewers at home. He would succeed.
So what do you guys think?
Jason Leppert (Popular Cruising) sailed with Holland America's Dancing With the Stars: At Sea Champions Cruise and was kind enough to give us another interview (our third), but he also wrote a very special blog which we are thrilled to post here. After the blog, you will find the most recent interview (January 23, 2014) followed by our earlier interviews from July, 2013 and November, 2013.
Tristan MacManus, Holland America and Dancing With the Stars: At Sea
by Jason Leppert (@popularcruising)
Certainly the opportunity to meet and interact with Tristan MacManus on a cruise ship should be reason enough for any fan to be drawn to Holland America Line’s Dancing with the Stars: At Sea program, but there’s much more to it than that.
Every Holland America Line sailing features complimentary dance classes choreographed and introduced via video by pro dancer Kym Johnson as well as an enticing guest competition, save for on the champions cruise itself. During the competition you can dance for a chance to win a free cruise for yourself and a guest – the very champions cruise that concluded 2013’s competition last week. (http://www.popularcruising.com/2014/01/21/dancing-stars-sea-guest-experience-tops-holland-america-lines-nieuw-amsterdam/) The competition has now reset for 2014, and you too can participate and maybe make it to the finale, be judged by Tristan MacManus himself and take home the coveted mirrorball trophy.
Super fanboys and girls will want to specifically consider booking the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea themede cruises – 6 sailings in 2014 that actually bring the pro dancers and celebrities from the TV show onboard when they're not filming in California. On these cruises, guests can interact with the stars at photo meet-and-greets and Q & As as well as see them perform their moves in a signature production show that is truly spectacular. Tristan MacManus, Kym Johnson, Sabrina Bryan and Carson Kressley are all scheduled to appear on these select sailings. (http://www.hollandamerica.com/pageByName/Simple.action?requestPage=DWTS)
On a personal note, I must say it really is great to hang out with the dancers and celebrities because they are genuinely friendly and approachable. I was very impressed that Tristan had remembered me from my first Dancing with the Stars: At Sea cruise and mentioned that it was nice to see me again. Similarly, my mother enjoyed chatting with Emma Slater a bit about her time with Bill Engvall last season.
Hands down, there is no better place to be than a Holland America Line cruise to meet your favorite stars and experience a dancing competition just as they do on television.
Administrators Note: Jason is very active on social media, so be sure and look for him here:
Our Exclusive Interview with Jason Leppert (@popularcruising)
January 23, 2014
Jason, since our last interview back in November, you seem to have been traveling non-stop! Tell us what you’ve been up to prior to the Holland America Dancing With the Stars: At Sea Champions Cruise.
Wow! Yeah, there have definitely been a few other travels. Leading up to the DWTS cruise, I had been to Disney’s D23 Expo, Walt Disney World and New York City, as well as sailed on the Disney Fantasy, Norwegian Breakaway, new Royal Princess, Carnival Miracle and MSC Divina. It’s been an exciting time for sure.
As we look at your travel blogs, photos, tweets, and Facebook posts, it becomes obvious that you invest a lot of time into it and to delivering a quality product. On the average, how much of your day is spent writing, editing, organizing, and posting?
That’s a very good question, and thank you for recognizing my efforts. Having the best job in the world, I fully enjoy my travels, but there is always a thread of work in there. I’m never entirely free of my iPhone, for instance. I’d say it’s about 50% of the time that is spent dedicated to those endeavors. Depending on the nature of the trip, that number can go up or down. There was lots more to cover on this last cruise than other ones, but that’s all part of the fun for me too.
How do you choose the cruises on which you travel? What do you look for specifically when you are on the cruises, and since there is so much to see and do, how to you pick and choose?
I make a point of trying to cover the greatest diversity of cruise products that I can to satisfy the “popular” nature of my website and other outlets. So, I like to hit the mainstream lines as much as the premium and luxury ones, plus river and ocean sailings. The bullet points for me to cover are always accommodations, activities, dining, entertainment and service. Granted that’s a lot to cover, but those are the areas I focus on. Usually, all those things will be encountered to some degree during every cruise.
You just finished up your second DWTS At Sea cruise on Holland America, but this time it was the Champions Cruise. How was this one different than the first (other than the itinerary), and was one better than the other for any reason?
They were both great for different reasons, but I’d have to give a slight edge to this last one just because there were so many things going on with the competition finale on top of the production and fashion shows. There also seemed to be more pro dancers and celebrities onboard this time too. The first one was still very unique because you could see the initial competition occurring. This time, new guests couldn’t compete just because there was not enough time with the four final judging rounds. There’s just so much excitement onboard these theme cruises.
What were the competitions like? It seems like the winners from previous cruises had plenty of skills, and the ultimate winner received glowing reports.
They were so much fun! In fact, Omar who won on our first cruise ended up representing the Oosterdam, having beaten out all the other dancers who competed throughout the year onboard that particular ship. So, he was one of fifteen – one from each of Holland America Line’s ships – that competed on the Nieuw Amsterdam for the mirrorball trophy. The competition is usually judged by the ship’s company of dancers, but on the theme cruises and the champions cruise, the pros from the show act as the judging panel. So, it was interesting to see the dancers who are normally judged themselves by Len, Carrie Ann and Bruno get the opportunity to impart their wisdom. And the guest competitors themselves were incredible performers. The winning tango from Allyse was just tops.
We loved your photos from the show featuring the DWTS pros and celebrities. In your opinion, was there a particular high point from that show? What did you enjoy most?
Oh, thank you! The show that they put on is so full of unrelenting energy. It’s incredible really. Carson Kressley and his comedic banter throughout were hilarious, and it was great to see Emma Slater return to the cruises as a pro on the TV show now. I was amazed to see how she and Derek Hough brought up some audience members on stage to dance with too, especially the one girl that Derek hopped over. That definitely made for a fun photo. It was also neat to see how they featured different numbers in order to spotlight the moves of the new performers this time around.
Since you have been on two of the DWTS cruises already, are you planning to go on any of the recently added ones for 2014?
I have nothing planned just yet, but I would absolutely love to! These cruises are a blast, and it’s always a pleasure to cover the festivities and see the stars interact with the guests.
We’re curious. Were you one of those folks who go up on stage for the impromptu dance lesson with Emma and Derek? Have you ever felt the urge to try to Salsa or Tango and how are your dance skills? :)
No, I’m usually the one behind the camera, but I have attempted salsa at a salsa making and salsa dancing shore excursion in Cozumel, Mexico once. That’s about the extent of my own dancing I’m afraid. Although, I am more interested to try now since Dancing with the Stars: At Sea, which is really a testament to how inspiring the shipboard program is.
Finally, is there anything you would like to add or say? Don’t be a stranger. Keep in touch with us, and we are happy to post links to your blogs and photos – whether they are DWTS related or not.
I’d just like to say how nice it has been to engage with Tristan and his wonderful fans throughout this journey! I will absolutely be in touch! Thanks again!
Our previous interviews with Jason are archived within the website, but in case you missed them, here they are.
November 12, 2013 Interview
Jason, you’ve been a busy man since we last spoke with you in July. Tell us about some of your cruise adventures since then.
Yes, indeed. I’ve had the pleasure to sail onboard a Viking river cruise in Europe, the Disney Fantasy in the Caribbean, the Norwegian Breakaway in Bermuda, and the new Royal Princess for her inaugural sailing from Florida. It’s been a blast, especially river cruising. I will always love ocean cruising, but there is something newly near and dear to my heart about the intimacy of smaller riverboats sailing through the heart of Europe.
What has been your favorite cruise in 2013 thus far? Why?
That’s a tough one because I love them all for one reason or another. I honestly have to say the one onboard the Disney Fantasy though since that ship is a bit like my cruise ship baby. I did see her constructed and christened after all, so she will forever be special to me and my gear-head and heart. Plus, if you love Disney, there is nothing better than a Disney cruise to immerse yourself in the magic. The cruise line truly is the best Disney experience to be had anywhere in the world.
You don’t have to mention names, but is there one cruise you have taken that especially disappointed you? The service, the itinerary, the conditions, etc.
Generally, cruises are fantastic experiences, but, from time to time, there are less than ideal situations. I’ve never really experienced a bad cruise overall, but as a non-smoker, navigating smoking areas on ships is always a challenge, especially in the casino where it tends to spread beyond. Even though it wasn’t allowed, a previous guest had smoked in the cabin that I had been assigned to once and it just reeked accordingly. The quality of service and food varies with each cruise line as expected, but smoking onboard is probably the biggest pain in the “aft” as I like to joke.
We know you were on the DWTS cruise to Alaska in July, but as far as entertainment on a cruise, what is the most memorable cruise ship entertainment you have had a chance to see? Why?
I really think the Disney Cruise Line sets the standard as far as entertainment is concerned. Nearly all of its stage productions are winners with extensive use of every theatrical staging technique and technology available, and the performers are just top-notch. The line also was the first to introduce a fireworks display at sea, and it’s still the one to beat. It’s always a hoot to see the Disney characters out on stage and around the ship too.
We understand that you will be one of the lucky people on the Holland America DWTS champs cruise which departs on January 12. Tell us a little about what we can expect to read from you in your cruise reports (which we love, by the way). What types of things will you be looking for?
Thanks very much for the compliment! I will be reporting some live as before, mostly on my Twitter (Twitter.com/PopularCruising) and Facebook (Facebook.com/PopularCruising) accounts, and I’ll also wait to publish other content until I return. My focus will be on the DWTS dance classes and major production show as well as any opportunities to see the stars and contestants out and about like at the fashion show. In fact, it will be interesting to see if Emma Slater will be onboard because she was last time as a troupe dancer before being promoted this season with Bill Engvall. And to your readers’ delight, Tristan MacManus is scheduled to be on the ship once again as well.
Can you tell us anything about that cruise? Perhaps tell us a bit about the itinerary and activities on board. Have you sailed on the ms Nieuw Amsterdam previously?
This time we will switch Holland America Line ships and itineraries, as well as climates for that matter. The Nieuw Amsterdam is the newest ship in the fleet, and I have yet to sail onboard, so it will be very interesting to experience the champions cruise on this vessel. The ship, for instance, has an additional specialty Asian dining venue, the Tamarind Restaurant. The Caribbean itinerary will also be great because besides stopping at Grand Cayman and Cozumel, we will call on Key West and Holland America Line’s private island which are less common ports. In fact, the private island will be entirely new to me. It leaves from Ft. Lauderdale and will last a week as before.
Obviously, you are a cruise veteran with lots of great stories to tell, but would you share with us what you liked most about Holland America’s Dancing With the Stars cruise in July?
I think what stood out to me the most was just how much fun it all was. There is such an unmistakable energy that the dancers exude. It was great to be able to meet all the dancers, and, of course, Carson Kressley was absolutely hilarious as emcee. It was particularly interesting to see how well DWTS integrated with the existing ship entertainment and how the singers and dancers onboard were incorporated as well. Next, I’m really looking forward to returning to see how a different company of performers will interpret the DWTS experience.
What else do you have coming up in the next few months? Approximately how much time each year do you spend traveling? How much of that time is spent on cruise travel?
I will be onboard covering three back-to-back cruises starting on November 17th - the Carnival Miracle followed by Royal Caribbean’s Vision of the Seas and later the MSC Divina before a short Christmas break. Then the DWTS champions cruise commences in January. On average, I cover a cruise once a month if not more as is currently the case. So, all in all, I spend about 15 total weeks a year traveling, and I love every minute of it.
Tell our new website members who might not have read our July Interview more about yourself and how they can keep up with your cruise adventures.
Sure. I’m a cruise veteran that started sailing before I was even two years old thanks to my generous parents, and most recently, I just completed my 60th cruise before I turn 30 in December. I cover the experience of my cruises with extensive written and video reviews that can all be found at popularcruising.com.
You are obviously a veteran of cruises, but would you share with us how you ended up in such a fascinating field? When you aren’t traveling on the seas, do you enjoy other types of travel?
In college, I actually studied graphic design, photography and video, but I was always a proficient writer and world traveler, mostly on cruises. So, I submitted a cruising article to my local San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper about two years ago and then used that as a springboard to begin writing about the cruise industry professionally. I do enjoy all travel and have been blessed with opportunities to try all kinds. I also really enjoy train travel, but prefer cruise travel over all other forms.
Since you spend a lot of time writing, we’re curious if you also have a background in journalism.
No, I really don’t. I ended up in a field different than the one I studied. As if often the case these days, I wear many hats, and my art background comes in handy constantly as I designed my own logo and website and take photos and video constantly while on my travels.
Do you have a particular favorite cruise destination, and is there a cruise that you have not yet taken that particularly intrigues you?
My all time favorite to cruise to is Alaska. It’s just infinitely beautiful there with trees covering every inch of the landscape, and it’s one of the few remaining places where you can take a deep breath of fresh, crisp air. Alaska is God’s country. He did great work there. Australia is next on my bucket list. I’ve only ever heard great things about that destination, and I hope to get there very soon.
After 56 sailings, you have no doubt been to a lot of cities and countries. Does one place stand out as a favorite?
I have always enjoyed France as a country. I personally don’t find the locals to be nearly as rude as the stereotype implies. I’ve found that the attitude one encounters from others internationally is equivalent to the attitude you bring. Just be friendly and say “hello” or “good day” in their language. It goes a long way. San Diego will always be my favorite city, but other standouts are Vancouver, Rome, Stockholm and Venice, among so many others.
Have you ever been on a cruise where weather conditions affected the itinerary and/or made travel more challenging?
Generally, it’s smooth sailing onboard, but rough seas and adverse weather do occur from time to time. The ships are designed to take much worse and thus are never in danger. In my experience, only one port of call was ever cancelled because it was unsafe to run tenders from ship to shore. It’s all part of the adventure of travel.
What types of things do look for specifically when on a cruise? When you reviewed the DWTS At Sea cruise, what did you initially target for your review, and did that change as the days passed?
I look for quality in accommodations, service, food and entertainment. I try to evaluate the entire cruising experience and certainly had high hopes for the Dancing with the Stars: At Sea component. It did not disappoint. In fact, the new program exceeded all my expectations. It was so well done and was a perfect fit for the Holland America Line brand of cruising. As it had been five years since I was last onboard a cruise with the line, the improved food – which was excellent to begin with – astounded me because the fare was so exceptional for the price point.
Before the DWTS At Sea cruise, had you ever watched Dancing With the Stars? What impressed you most about the performers and the performances?
Honestly, I had only ever seen a handful of episodes, and I was most impressed by just how fun it all was. The performers were all genuine people who always took the time for their fans. Carson Kressley in particular was absolutely hilarious and quite the showman, and as you are all no doubt wondering, Tristan MacManus is indeed as friendly and charming as you have imagined. And of course, the ladies were all so lovely and elegant. The performances were most impressive – extraordinarily energetic and passionate. I now intend to watch Dancing with the Stars regularly.
At 30 years of age, Jason is a cruise expert with 62 sailings under his belt and a fresh, youthful perspective on the industry. He has been cruising since before he was even two years old thanks to his parents' shared passion for traveling and their desire to experience all journeys together as a family.
Before starting Popular Cruising, Jason was a regular contributing editor at CruiseMates. He now also participates as a co-host on Cruize Cast, contributes to Onboard.com and the Travel Channel and has been featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. ---from PopularCruising.com
Enjoy Jason's reviews of Dancing With the Stars: At Sea (and the Oosterdam) from July, 2013 by clicking on the following links:
-- http://www.popularcruising.com/2013/07/18/video-holland-america-line-oosterdam-ship-review/ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=suqY6C48F8Q (video review)
Season 18 is going to be full of surprises, casting and otherwise. Mark it down. Remember Season 16 when we were sure Henry was a pro based on his tweets? Suddenly, he backpedaled. Remember when Derek wasn’t going to return for Season 16, and then voila, he was back and Henry was out? Then there were the surprise additions of Gleb Savchenko and Lindsay Arnold, neither of whom either of us had ever heard of. Tyne was actually not a huge surprise for Season 17 because she had been one of those who had appeared periodically with the troupe in Season 16. Granted, we thought she might have been planned for the troupe and not a full time pro, but you just never know what ABC is thinking. All of the "extras" bring us to the point of why have a troupe if you are constantly throwing in other random dancers. If you want to audition them for the pros or a future troupe position, then give them a separate dance instead of making the troupe very disjointed, something it has become in recent seasons. We think there will be some interesting things happening (interesting not necessarily being good) so we are now going to tell you the pros (and troupe members) that we will be seeing in Season 18. We will then follow it with the pros and troupe we think should be on Season 18.
The Female Pros
Witney –Two seasons in the troupe have shown us she is a great contemporary and Latin dancer, but ballroom is the staple, and so far, nothing has been shown that tells us she is equally proficient there. We do think, however, that ABC has been pushing her hard at us for two seasons and with all the Cody Simpson talk going on we believe she is going to be a pro, assuming Cody makes the cut. Unfortunately, that could mean Emma would be left out because we don’t see any signs that Cheryl, Karina, Peta, or Sharna are taking a season off, and there is every indication that Kym will be back. Witney is also getting a lot of press right now. She’ll be dancing with Mark Ballas in the Toronto event that Tristan and Anna were in last year, and she also did a Pepsi promotion thing with Mark that will appear during the Grammy Awards or Super Bowl or something. Clearly we didn’t read it carefully, but you get the idea. She is getting some major promotion right now. The thing about Witney is that in spite of her brilliant skills, she likes to play to the camera way too much which means not nearly enough chemistry with her partner. In fact, the only time we saw chemistry was in the “Better Dig Two” contemporary. The last time she danced with Tristan, she was canoodling with the camera more than playing the part of the crazy in lust performer, and that didn’t sit well with us.
Sharna – This is a no-brainer, and Sharna has quickly moved to the top of our list of favorite pros. When she was first introduced to us in the troupe, we had our doubts. She seemed too edgy, too “rocker chick,” and too much everything else, but as the seasons went by, she softened up and we began to realize that she is truly extraordinary – as a choreography, teacher of both Latin and ballroom, and a dancer. She also deals well with the judges, doesn’t whine or complain, and doesn’t talk back. ABC would be nuts to let her go, but then again we are talking about ABC here - the wunderkind network of split personality decision making.
Cheryl – Six months ago we would have said that Cheryl needed a season off, but her weeks with Jack Osbourne made us love the Cheryl we hadn’t seen in a while. We almost reconsidered after seeing the dress she wore at the UNICEF function where she danced with Val, but after seeing what he wore, we realized it wasn’t so bad. She’ll be back, and she will probably have a contender.
Kym – There have been lots of hints and talk, and she’s back in the thick of things dancing on the DWTS At Sea cruises. She purchased a house in LA, and she made it clear when she was in Australia last season that she would be back on DWTS. She should be back. The problem is going to be which female pro won’t make the cut now. We have a lot of qualified pros and only six available spots.
Karina – We have a tiny suspicion that Karina might take a season off just because she has so much going on outside of DWTS She's the most skilled of all of the other female pros, and we are certain that her career could survive a one season hiatus. On the other hand, she is very popular, and it doesn’t make a lot of sense right now for her to be off the roster.
Now it gets interesting. Peta or Emma could draw the short straw for the last spot. We will get into our preferences for this spot below, but we think Peta (who has more than 68,000 Twitter followers) will win out over Emma, who has just over 13,000. Granted, Twitter followers don’t mean that much necessarily, but Peta does have a mirror ball trophy, and while Emma did a great job, a lot of that final spot was due to Bill Engvall’s enormous popularity. Although there is the possibility that Witney is being seasoned to be Peta's hot blonde pro replacement. we think Peta will be back. It sucks for Emma because we like her better than most of the other pros.
We left out Tyne. She is a great dancer when there is some jazz involved, but we weren’t blown away with her as a pro, nor in the occasional dances with the troupe previously. Lindsay didn't really do anything memorable during her pro season, but she's 10 times more energizing than Tyne, and at least we remember Lindsay. Tyne didn’t bring the “wow” factor, and let’s face it, the record number of views for a DWTS performance on you tube was due to Bill Nye dancing. The novelty wore off fairly quickly. She could end up in the troupe for Season 18, but we also wouldn’t be surprised if she was shown the door, much as others have been done in the past. Based on what we’ve seen, her strength isn’t ballroom, and that’s what we want to see.
Tristan – This is the easiest choice of all. He has never been more popular, everybody loves him, and he takes great photos (shallow of us, but true). He has never had the opportunity to really shine in five seasons, and that is purely a result of the age of his celebrities. Come on ABC. Give us a freaking break. Tristan can teach anybody but you have to give him a fighting chance. It's even better that the premiere is conveniently on St. Patrick's Day. That is almost too good to be true.
Derek – There’s no reason to discuss because the rumor mill says he’s coming back. We don't see him giving up a sure thing.
Tony – He needs a season off. He’s been around every single season since Season 2, and it’s time. We love Tony, but mercy, it’s so predictable. The costumes, the choreography, all of it. We’re still scratching our heads at the pro dance with Tyne. Why did that even happen? Like we said, we love the guy, and so does ABC apparently because we have no doubt he will be right on the dance floor March 17 with a celebrity partner.
Val – Based on the tux with the highwater pants he wore to the thing with Cheryl, he should never be allowed to have a costume discussion again. Anybody have the urge to shout, “Surf’s up?” Anyway, ABC loves Val. How do we know? Look at his last 3 celebrity partners. Kelly Monaco (Season 1 Winner). Zendaya (ringer who got to dance her specialty, Hip Hop, twice). Elizabeth (good grief – she was the lead in Showgirls and has danced her entire life). He will be back. Whether or not he’ll be dancing with a stinker or a ringer (the likely option), we don’t know, but he’ll be there.
Mark – If he takes off a season to do his music, we think Sasha will be around to take this spot. Unless there are two very petite celebrities again, Sasha could end up back in the troupe, and that would be a damn shame.
Gleb – This was a toss-up between Gleb and Henry, and we think Gleb appealed to a broad demographic his first pro season. He handled moving down to the troupe with grace and never complained. He is also a brilliant dancer. We think Henry will be left out again because in spite of it all, most people don’t know who he is.
Emma, Lindsay, Henry, Sasha (Jaymz could end up in there. He has been on DWTS many, many times during the last few seasons, and Julz didn't get a single dance in Season 17.)
Who we want to be the pros and troupe
Forget the ones we believe will be back. We think a large number of pros need to take a break and do something else – possibly move on permanently but we also know that that is unlikely to happen. These are the pros we think would make for the best season, and most likely everybody else in the universe would disagree with us, but it’s what we think.
The Men - We think Tony, Derek, and Mark could all use a season off and while ABC is unlikely to replace any of these three. We can, however, compromise a little on this wish list and keep two, and give one a vacation.
Gleb (2nd choice – Henry)
Tony (2nd choice- Julz)
Henry (2nd choice – Gleb)
So what do you think?
It’s that time of year again, ladies and gentlemen. We are gearing up for the Season 18 cast announcement in just a few weeks, so in the meantime, our imaginations have gone a little crazy as we think of possible celebrity and pro combinations. We realize that chances are pretty good that not one of these will actually happen, but we are hopeful. We have created a season we refer to as “the good, the bad, and the worse” but you have to admit that this could be hugely entertaining. We also know that some of the pros we have listed might not be pros this season and some of the pros would never be matched up with this type of celebrity, but we can dream. We also are not making this fair; in fact, we are suggesting the best match-ups from our perspective, and some pros might be mentioned twice and some not at all, but it’s our blog, and we can take all kinds of liberties. We will probably be doing part two of this soon because we already have a list of celebrities and pros that we couldn’t fit into this one, and as the rumors start flying and we get closer to the cast reveal, we will get a little more serious and come up with our actual predictions. In the meantime, we think ABC should seriously consider these celebrities along with our pro recommendations for Season 18.
Tim Tebow – He said last season that he wouldn’t do DWTS but that was before he had been cut from his NFL team and to date, he hasn’t signed with anyone. He is currently doing broadcast work with ESPN but ESPN is ABC so DWTS could happen. He probably can’t dance a lick and his strong religious convictions might mean that he would keep his shirt on and his pants wouldn't be too tight, but in our opinion, that’s a good thing. It means one less oiled, waxed chest and reduced chances of a wardrobe malfunction. We think Sharna would be perfect with him, but she was paired with a football player last season. ABC might think Peta, but we vote for Peta to get a real challenge instead of a cake walk. We can see this working with Emma Slater, but Cheryl might be a good option too.
Dennis Rodman – Nobody is more controversial, loud, and annoying, but ABC hasn’t shied away from controversial, loud, or annoying. Now don’t go crazy and think that we are members of the Rodman Fan Club, and yes, the word train wreck occasionally crosses our minds, but if you want flamboyance and outrageous costumes, he’s your man. We would like to see Peta take on the Rodman Challenge and see how it goes because let’s face it, she hasn’t had a real challenge since her first season and even then, Metta World Peace got along with everybody and did his best. So we say, bring it on, Rodman.
Lucy Hale – This idea was suggested on the Facebook Fan Page, and a couple of us discussed it and we love the possibilities. We realize that ABC would probably think 1) Derek 2) Mark 3) Val 4) Henry 5) Sasha but we say Tristan is the perfect partner. She’s artistic, she can act, she can sing, and she’s beautiful. She’s also 24 so it’s not icky, and it would actually give Tristan a chance to dance, choreograph, teach, and do a rumba that is about lust and love instead of being told that it would not be appropriate to do a rumba about lust and love and then being told that while it wouldn’t be appropriate to do a rumba about lust and love, he still should have choreographed a rumba about lust and love. You get the point. We want a rumba with lust and love. Lucy Hale would be a great partner for such a dance. Lust. And. Love.
John Zimmerman - Who, you might ask? John Zimmerman. Former pairs figure skater. Current skating coach. Great bedhead. Good looking. Sexy. Handsome. He would be a great partner for Anna Trebunskaya and would likely get her a mirror ball. Unfortunately, with Baby Trebunskaya coming soon, we don’t know if our favorite female pro will be back for Season 18. Another brilliant option would be Sharna who would probably rock the world of everybody if she had a partner like John. He’s now 40, he’s still got it, and we want real chemistry – not the phony kind we’re seeing from a lot of pairs these days. (The kind with the facial expressions that look more like constipation than selling sex.) If not Sharna, then Karina. We figure Peta and Cheryl have had enough of the sexy, rip the shirt off types, and Emma hasn’t quite yet earned the privilege, so we say Anna, Sharna, and Karina are the best pros for Mr. Zimmerman.
Kyoko Ina – Who, you ask again? John Zimmerman’s former pairs skating partner, and yes, we might have mentioned her before for previous seasons, but we don’t give up. Exotic, beautiful, sexy, expressive, and athletic, she would be perfect for Tristan. She may be touring with Stars on Ice this time around, but we want her on DWTS anyway. The obvious candidate for her pro partner iis Tristan, and yes, we realize we that before this blog is over he could have 12 or so partners, but too bad. He’s due another figure skater, he’s due that whole love/lust rumba thing we keep harping about, and she could deliver it. She might not be as well known as some other celebrities, but who cares? A week on DWTS with Tristan as her partner would make her a household name. If not Tristan? Well, nobody except for possibly Gleb. Yeah, that might work.
Scott Baio – We would love, love, love to see Scott on the show. He’s 53 now, still as handsome as ever, and would be a great celebrity for Cheryl or Emma. We believe he would rock the Latin dances, and we visualize a superb jive. We know nothing about his dancing skills but he just seems like a perfect fit.
Troy Aikman – He has been rumored a few times, but nothing came of it. Still, the retired former NFL quarterback turned broadcaster has charm to spare, good looks a-plenty, and we know how ABC loves football players on DWTS. He might not be the best dancer, but he also might surprise us. We don’t think any of the previous DWTS football players have been that spectacular, but they do have a lot of fans. We think Emma would be a good choice for Troy, and she showed us last season that she can adapt.
Nadia Comaneci – She would be a huge addition to the cast, but we can’t see her with Tony, Derek, or Mark. There’s no doubt that she and Tristan would make it work, but the name that sticks out as a choice for her is Gleb or even Julz Tocker, although we don’t think they will bring Julz in as a pro, particularly since they didn’t use him at all in Season 17. To that we say, “Harrumph.”
Bart Connor – Nadia’s husband and an American gymnastics legend, he would be wonderful, and it would be even better if he and Nadia were on in the same season. His partner? Cheryl or Karina
Oksana Baiul – We have casually mentioned her before, and we will think she might be a good fit for DWTS. She has the talent, athleticism, and attitude to be very entertaining, and we think she would be a decent partner for Sasha. He worked wonders with Snooki, and we think he’s one of the best teachers on DWTS. Yeah, we like this pairing. Another option might be Val, but honestly we’re not sure she’s enough of a challenge, and we really want to see Val get a partner who isn’t as athletic as some of his previous ringers, er, we mean celebrities. Still, it could work, and she would not make it easy for him. She has an edge and would push him. We like that idea.
Dominique Moceanu – We’re pretty sure that we’ve mentioned her a time or two before, but she would be a worthy competitor, and any pro would be fortunate to have her as his partner. She’s strong, athletic, pretty, and dedicated. We guess it would be crass of us to put all the good celebrities with Tristan, so we will behave and go in another direction. She’s 32 now – how did that happen? Anyway, we’ve given a lot of thought as to which pro would work, and we came up with one you probably aren’t expecting. We’ve become fans of the work of Julz Tocker, and think he would pull out all kinds of surprises instead of tons of predictability we have come to expect from many DWTS pros. It’s a little too obvious to put her with Sasha, and we’re not sure Henry is the right fit, so we keep coming back to Julz.
Dominique Dawes – Here is another one we’ve wanted on DWTS for a while, and we want her with Tristan. There is just something about her talent, looks and lines that scream “perfect partnership.” If not Tristan? Bring back Sonny Pedersen. Hindsight is always better, but we think his talents were vastly underused.
Katey Sagal – She is hilarious, fun, and striking, and had Tristan not had the history of partners on DWTS that he has had, we would love to see her take a turn on the dance floor with him. She’s 59, and to our knowledge, she has no ringer status other than her background in music. Some options for her – Henry (if he makes it to the pro ranks), Tony, Derek, or Val.
Paul Wylie- If there was ever a Cinderella story of Men’s Figure Skating, it might be Paul Wylie, and I still remember when we won that Olympic silver medal in Albertville in 1992 and captured our hearts. He would be a great addition to the cast, and he reminds us of people like Gavin DeGraw – stars that everybody loves. We would love to see him dancing with Kym. Sharna would be another interesting possibility.
Wanda Sykes – We love this funny lady, and her sarcasm, wit, and biting humor would put any pro in his place. We would love to see how Derek could handle a partner who is as tough as nails and willing to stand up to him when necessary or just because she wants to. Derek is good, so let’s see how good. Besides, they would be a laugh a minute. Or at least until Derek got tired of what might be a regular goof-off fest in rehearsal, but the footage would be Emmy worthy. There’s that E word again. If Derek is a no-go, then Val would be perfect.
Queen Latifah – She’s a tall one – as in 5’10”, but that okay and she’s another one that would be perfect for Tristan. They would be hilarious and probably create some great dances, however, we really would like to see Tristan get a chance to turn up some serious heat. It might work with Queen Latifah, but we want to take it in a different direction. We think Tony might be fun with her. If not Tony, Henry could be interesting. Gleb might be great fun too. He has a wicked sense of humor.
Carla Hall – She could be fun, and she’s different. She’s tall and 49 years old, but her height shouldn’t matter since they didn’t mind pairing Zendaya and Elizabeth with Val. We vote 1) Val 2) Derek 3) Tony Why? Val and Derek need challenges, and she may or may not be one. She’s fun, upbeat, and affirmatively wants to do the show. Let’s see if Val and Derek in particular can step it up. Tony would work because of height but honestly we think Tony needs a break. Will he get one? Not likely. ABC will keep him around.
Chuck Norris - Who doesn't know who Chuck Norris is and who doesn’t want to see a tough guy pull out all the stops on the dance floor? He is also starting to be a tad controversial and ABC hasn’t shied away from controversy in order to get ratings. Cheryl would be the perfect partner; she is confident and a great teacher. She would take Chuck and run with him. Just look how far she went with Jack, and we thought that was going to be a train wreck.
Ellie Kemper - She was in The Office and also in Bridesmaids and is adorable. She is sweet like Tristan but I'd like to see them get sexy on the dance floor. Not to mention the hoards of The Office fans would be salivating all over this. In this case, it’s Tristan as the best pro choice. She’s 5’5” so that’s a good match height-wise. We can see the producers placing her with Mark Ballas but we don’t think her potential would be reached there. Sasha might be a good possibility too even if there wouldn’t be much difference in heights.
Corin (Corky) Nemec – Do you remember him from the 90's "Parker Lewis Can’t Lose" and the cult following worthy miniseries "Stephen King's: The Stand"? He is the type of "where are they now" celebrity that DWTS likes to bring on the show. Emma would be a great partner for him. She's bubbly and fun and that matches his personality. We don’t know if he is physically able to do the show due to his accident last year, but when he is ready, he could be a great cast choice.
Todd Eldredge – DWTS needs another male figure skater, and we know we've mentioned Paul Wylie and John Zimmerman already, but Todd is another great option. His lines are exquisite, he’s classy, and he would bring some depth to the legions of male celebrities. We can see him being paired with Kym, and we might see her pick up her third mirror ball trophy with this talented man.
Suzanne Somers – At age 67, she still has it, and we would like to see Derek work through this. She is physically fit, talented, and still reasonably well known, so he would still have three advantages before they ever make it onto the dance floor. We are very curious to see how this would work out because she doesn’t have youth on her side, She also doesn’t have the fan base of people like Donny Osmond or Jennifer Grey, and they were only 50 when they won. Derek, you're the one for her.
Johnny Damon - We’ve enjoyed a few of the football players on DWTS, but we’re sick of the same old thing, and there has never been a baseball player on the show. We’re not sure why, because many are retired. They are agile, in great shape (mostly) and might be able to move like Jagger. Or like Carson anyway. We vote Johnny Damon, and we would pair him with Sharna. Johnny has lots of fans (Boston, New York, and just about everywhere else), and is a truly likable guy. Why not give Sharna an athlete two seasons in a row? They gave Peta two male athletes in a row: Metta World Peace and then Donald Driver. We all know how that turned out. Let Sharna get a chance to shine. In fact, we’ll say we want a final that includes Sharna, Tristan, and their celebrity partners.
Tila Tequila – We don’t have to really like a celebrity to think he or she would be good for the cast, and we think DWTS might (and this is a very big “might”) be able to humanize a few more celebrities. We would put her with Val because he is one of those celebrities who needs a huge challenge for a change, and this would be a good place to start. This is Val's season to have that big challenge (along with possibly Derek, Mark, and Peta), It is hard to teach a celeb who has never danced before to stand out, but it is equally challenging to get the fans to find your celebrity likable enough to keep voting. We’re not setting anyone up for failure but like Derek, Mark, and Peta who are all very talented pros, they seem to be in that good luck pool where they are always given someone with a good chance at doing. Show us what you've got, Val, when you've got someone like Tila as your partner. If could prove very interesting. Mark is a close second for her. Derek is a third choice. Any of the 3 would face plenty of challenges here, and it would be great entertainment.
Nigella Lawson - This seems like a natural partner for Tony because he comes across as such a gentleman. Nigella is one of those women you love to hear talk, and she also has some serious credentials. We haven’t had a celebrity chef on DWTS since Rocco, and it’s time to try it again. Besides, it will mean one less football player or reality star. Next.
Richard Karn – We want to see Al Borland dance! Coming off a very hot season for Bill Engvall, Richard seems like Season 18's best bet. Peta is due her turn with an older partner so she can stop playing up the sexual tension in rehearsals and concentrate on some solid dancing. Would Al Borland win the MTB? Not likely, but he's that feel good sort of guy that you just want to get better.
Part 2 of our suggestions coming soon. Leave your comments on this one here or on the forum thread for MacMusings. We would love to hear from you all!
It might be 2014 now, but we went way back to 2013 to dig up some special Tristan moments. 2013 was missing a lot of things: we didn’t get nearly enough of Tristan dancing, and we also didn’t get Design A Dance, a Season 17 Trio Dance, or the return of the terrific Side-By-Side Challenge for Season 17. No worries, however, because we came up with some pretty spectacular 2013 moments. So here you have it – our Top Tristan Moments of 2013, in no particular order.
*Tristan took Irish Central to school after one writer offended all of us. Without going into details, Tristan became the self-proclaimed f**king ringmaster of the circus that Irish Central decided would be created by having Valerie on DWTS. As a result, Tristan became our hero (technically, he already was but this time he was elevated to an even higher status). Valerie became one of the most loved celebrities ever on DWTS, and Tristan and Valerie became DWTS icons. Well played, Tristan. There is something to be said for standing up for what is right.
*Tristan became a wee bit teary in one rehearsal after Valerie refused to quit, give up, or back down as she struggled with the choreography. He can deny the emotional reaction all he wants but the next example proves the point.
*He worked the press line for Extra TV one week and handled it with perfect poise and Irish charm. He is also the only person who could get away with asking Jack Osbourne, “How does it feel to cry on national tv?” That was endearing.
*Tristan and Dorothy performed a near perfect contemporary dance to “Tiny Dancer” even after Tristan admitted that he had never danced contemporary, taught contemporary, or choreographed contemporary and really didn’t know what it was.
*Tristan and Valerie danced their last dance of the competition to "Carry On". The story (like always) was brilliant, the emotion permeated the performance, and the tears flowed. They still do. We have said it before, and we will say it again. There isn’t another pro who can create and tell a story better than Tristan, and he does it with every single dance. Fancy choreography and footwork are fine, but if you don’t have a story behind it, the performance is flat. That never, ever happens with Tristan.
*Speaking of tears, there were some serious waterworks during the final dance for Tristan and Valerie to "What A Wonderful World" with Colbie Caillat. This dance was a beautiful finishing touch to a season that quickly became forgettable, and had it not been for Valerie and Tristan's emotionally charged performances, we probably would have gone into a ringer-induced coma.
*He and Witney danced a sexier-than-sin contemporary number to "Better Dig Two" in Season 16, proving once again that when you’ve got it, you’ve got it. And he’s got it.
*Valerie was having some problems in Cha Cha rehearsal so Tristan showed up dressed as Freddie Mercury to get Valerie in a silly mood. Runner up for this one goes to the white pants.
*Tristan showed true courage when he met so many fans at Life’s A Dance, in Ballroom With A Twist all over the country, on two weeks of Alaska cruises, at the DublinDown330 fundraiser and many, many more memorable appearances. He didn’t have to take out a restraining order out on anyone. Well, not as far as we know anyway.
*Tristan taking on the sport of baseball and throwing an almost perfect strike each time he stepped up to the plate (all two times). Almost is a relative term, of course.
*Snooki asked Tristan if he would sleep with her if he wasn’t already spoken for, and he very politely told her that he wouldn't do that to her family. The dude didn’t bat a single long eyelash. The rest of us were sitting here, jaws dropped, saying, “Oh no, she didn’t.”
*Over and over and over again Tristan took our questions and answered them with a sense of humor – tough to do considering some of our questions.
*Tristan stood back and let Valerie take the applause from the ballroom after their first dance together. Isn’t that how it should be? DWTS is supposed to be about the journey of the celebrity and not the pro….too bad some other pros never got that memo.
*Tristan might not have been able to dance in the Season 16 finale, but his vision for Dorothy Hamill's final DWTS performance was pure genius. He wanted his friend Sasha included, and he wanted Kristi Yamaguchi to return. That, ladies and gentleman, was the concept that finale performances are made of. The only thing missing was Tristan, but his vision was still apparent.
*Tristan turned the tables on the fans and asked us revealing questions like “Who don’t I shave?” [not us, him]
*Tristan asking for some funny questions for an interview, which we gladly did while making idiots out of ourselves not thinking he would really answer them. Errr……..about that.
*When he answered a bunch of questions for us on November 7 and then said to go ahead and send more because he didn’t mind answering them. That made us old broads get all emotional. Sniff Sniff.
*When he used five words to describe the MacManiacs - words which were written in 2013 but will be revealed shortly as the conclusion of the “silly questions” interview. We promise that you will love the answer.
So there you have it – our top Tristan moments for 2013. We already have a few in mind for 2014, so stay tuned.
On December 25, 2013, Nikki Lorenzo’s “Work That Charm” music video was released, and not only did we love everything about it, we were especially happy to see Tristan along with RJ Mitte make guest appearances in the video. We wanted to learn more about Nikki and her music, and she graciously agreed to answer some of our questions. You will also find this interview posted on the Weekly Update and Interview pages as well as on the forum. Enjoy!
Thanks for taking time to answer a few of our questions. First of all, we loved your music video “Work That Charm.” Would you tell us a little about how the concept for the video developed, the creative process behind it, and how it eventually all came together?
I’m absolutely thrilled to hear that you loved my music video! It was a ton of fun to make so to hear that anyone enjoys watching it is a huge bonus to the experience. I’m easily obsessed with old Hollywood, jazz, sensuality, speakeasies, powerful women, and vintage things, so when coming up with the concept to “Work That Charm,” I wanted to think of a video that could embody all of that, whilst creating a sort of hybrid product - meaning that it would look old but feel new with the elements added. I wanted to come up a story about a mother and a daughter, since the song was written about my mother, and I wanted to play both roles. The mother is this admirable, strong woman who owns the speakeasy we see in the video and her daughter sees her as this illumination for the world. She falls in love with how her mother’s charm sparks a happiness in people. Besides that, it feels invigorating to have that sort of supremacy; she’s smitten by how it sways and soothes everyone and looks to her mother as the woman she longs to be. She performs in the speakeasy (and later we see her in a hotel room) addressing her mother’s ways and without knowing it, has the very charm she sings to the heavens about already pouring out of her on stage. I took this concept to my friend, Marc Cleary, who ended up being the director of the video, and he saw my vision through, adding pizzazz with me on this journey to complete my first music video off my new album. We both had a ton of creative say in this project, and it was the first time I was able to help with directing and editing. I couldn’t have done it without the team I had which included Timothy Kane, Kelly Silva, and Craig Bobby Young.
Was there anything in particular that proved to be challenging or problematic when shooting this video? How much time was involved from the idea origination until the video was released on December 25?
There were definitely challenging times on this road to “Work That Charm” because we only really had about a week or two for hunting and gathering what we needed (cast, crew, wardrobe, location, props, budget, etc.) and shot it in one day. It was Oct. 15, 2013, and we had only six hours to shoot in the bar location, which made me almost go mental because there were so many things we needed to shoot and so many things we wanted to shoot. We had to be extremely picky and quick with what made the cut to be filmed that day. One really wild thing that was imperative to do was find a piano to bring on set because our bar location didn’t have one. You couldn’t possibly make this video without a piano. The night before the shoot we were running around trying to find one to rent and we had no luck, so two hours before resting our eyes for the next morning we had my neighbor give us the go-ahead to use his piano if we didn’t mind carrying it to our location. It was nuts. We needed about four guys to carry it in the shoot and then carry it back out and take it to its rightful owner once we were done with it.
Obviously, we loved seeing Tristan in the video, but it was also lovely seeing another favorite, RJ Mitte. What was it like working with them on this project, and how did the idea for their role in the video come about?
Working with both Tristan MacManus and RJ Mitte was one of the best treats I could’ve ever been given for this project. Marc (director) and I thought that the role of the mother would not have a romantic lead, nor would the daughter’s character. We wanted them to both be these independent females (not to say that having a man makes you less independent) who if surrounded by anyone, it would be these men that were just as mysterious and potent as they are. So, for the role of the mother (which I didn’t mention earlier that we named that character “Nikita”) she would have these two bodyguard-esque gentlemen that loved her so much, they would rather get their hands dirty everyday and keep hers clean, because she is this treasure of the people. She takes care of the women and keeps the men in check. Both Marc and I thought RJ and Tristan had many layers of these characters. RJ is a friend of mine and Tristan is a friend of Marc’s so we called and asked them and they politely accepted. They both did us a huge favor being involved in my music video. They’re some of the busiest people I know; I keep frantically thanking them any chance I get for being apart of this, hahaha.
Now tell us more about you and your music. Since “Work That Charm” debuted on Christmas Day, many of us have been perusing You Tube regularly. We would love to know more, and for those who might be unfamiliar with your work, please share more about yourself with us.
I have my debut album titled, “Firebox,” coming out at the end of January 2014, and it’s filled with influences of jazz, pop, and soul. I have been working on that for about a year with my dear friend/producer Eric King, and it’s a blessing that it’s finally about to hatch. I’m keeping everyone updated on where and when my album release party will be though my Facebook and Twitter. I’m just a Cuban/Spaniard/Italian girl from Miami, FL who left her family back at home to follow her dreams in the city of angels. I’m a poet, a dreamer, and the daughter of the moon. All my songs are elements of me and all that I’ve experienced. I write about love, loss, booze, self-destruction, growth, equality, demons and light. I sing to keep a heartbeat in me. I sing to keep a heartbeat in you.
What other projects do you have in the works?
I have a few projects in the works that keep me moving forward everyday that I’m deeply anxious for. I have my second music video I’m planning now and a few shows lining up. I’m also working on my poetry book/recordings that will release sometime in 2014 (fingers crossed) and a Christmas album with some dear friends of mine. There are also things that are so hush-hush at the moment; it’s too early to spill the beans.
Obviously music plays a big part in your life, but when did you first become interested in it, and are there any particular artists that have had a big influence on you and your music?
I was always interested in music so there’s no telling when it all hit me, but I suppose the earliest I remember being was four years old and singing Evita to my family. I got hooked on singing even though I wasn’t really good at it until many years later. My father was a musician, writer, and one of the best front men a band could have. My mom has always told me that I would hum full songs long before I could speak. I was fond of many artists growing up but it wasn’t until I heard Patsy Cline when I was about eleven years old that I felt the ground beneath me break. I fell through the platform of life and landed in an entirely different world. She made me want to sing with passion so that the audience could cry, love and grow with me.
We saw a little of your dancing skills in the video, and you had some great moves! How are those ballroom and Latin dance skills (a la Tristan MacManus)?
Well I don’t know if I could ever be as skilled as Tristan when it comes to dancing but I’d challenge him to a dance-off anytime - partly because who doesn’t love looking at him dance even if they lose?
Finally, is there anything you would like to add or say? You’re picking up lots of fans these days!
I would love to give a special thank you to all those lovely souls that support independent music and for supporting my music. I would also like to give a very special thank you to MacManiacs.org for giving me this opportunity to share my music.
For more information:
“Work That Charm” music video:
Teaser of Nikki’s next music video:
Nikki is very active on social media so be sure you look for her here:
YouTube Channel: Nikki Lorenzo