A touch (or two) of Long Island is coming to the new season of "Dancing With the Stars"— admittedly an odd touch or two. Christie Brinkley and Sean Spicer — yes, that Sean Spicer — have joined the celebrity cast.
According to bios for ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," which returns Sept. 16, Brinkley is "a successful businesswoman, Brinkley has an exclusive line of organic Prosecco called Bellissima, from Treviso, Italy, which is quickly becoming one of the fastest-rising brands of Prosecco across the country." No mention of a former spouse.
Spicer, born in Manhasset, "built a decades-long career in Republican politics, witnessing and shaping the inner workings of Washington, D.C., from every vantage point." No mention of a former boss for whom he was briefly, colorfully, contentiously press secretary.
Meanwhile — and unexpectedly — there was, and is, controversy, which is almost unheard of with "DWTS." In a tweet posted late Wednesday morning, host Tom Bergeron appeared to take issue with the casting of Spicer, writing that "a few months ago, during a lunch with DWTS' new executive producer, I offered suggestions for season 28," notably that it "would be a joyful respite from our exhausting political climate and free of inevitably divisive bookings from any party affiliations. I left that lunch convinced we were in agreement."
He added, "subsequently (and rather obviously) a decision was made to, as we often say in Hollywood, 'go in a different direction.'"
The "different direction" referred to, obviously, is Spicer, but as Bergeron also knows, when ratings are down may refer to do something desperate, or unseemly, or controversial. Do anything to get attention, along with the inevitable Twitter backlash, and finally — and most assuredly — that requisite launch day viewer bump. There have been other controversial contestants in the past, although those from the political world are rare. (Former House Majority leader Tom DeLay appeared in the ninth season.)
In another little surprise, Hannah Brown, just off the 15th season of "The Bachelor," is also joining the cast. She's described as "a fun country girl who is unapologetically herself" and "first won over America on Colton Underwood’s season of 'The Bachelor.' Now, she is ready to hit the ballroom floor and find a new type of love."
No mention of ... well, where to begin?
Here's the rest of the cast: Mary Wilson, former member of The Supremes, which began 60 years ago; "Dawson's Creek" star James Van Der Beek; Ally Brooke, of Fifth Harmony; country music star Lauren Alaina, who was also the season 10 runner-up on "American Idol"; "Queer Eye" life coach Karamo Brown; Kate Flannery, remembered fondly as Meredith on "The Office"; Baltimore Ravens star and Hall of Famer Ray Lewis; Kel Mitchell, who has relaunched the Nickelodeon comedy sketch show "All That;" and former Lakers (and Kardashian husband) Lamar Odom.
The celebrities' dance partners will be announced on the season premiere, a first for the show.
Also Wednesday, “DWTS” pros Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev revealed they would not return for the new season.
Burgess, who along with radio host Bobby Bones is the current “Dancing With the Stars” champion, posted on Instagram: “I am unbelievably sad to not be back!!! However, what i can whole heartedly tell you is that It’s all good, ALL love and in this moment I can’t help but be grateful for the time and the journey that I’ve had, the people I’ve met, the incredible talent I’ve shared the stage with and the memories I’ve made. To say the least.. it’s been epic.”
Chigvintsev, who won the mirrorball trophy on season 8 of Britain’s “DWTS” sister show “Strictly Come Dancing,” aso took to Instagram to reveal he was skipping competition this fall.
“I just want to say how sad it makes me feel not to be part of Season 28 of DWTS,” Chigvintsev wrote. “It’s been 10 years since I have joined this absolutely, one of a kind, incredible show! It has given me recognition as a dancer, choreographer and a teacher. I have had so many beautiful memories with all of my celebrity partners! They all have shaped me into the person that I am today.”