The next season of “Dancing With the Stars” won’t premiere until fall 2020, but ABC is already having preliminary conversations about which celebrities they’d like to recruit for Season 29 — and Charlie Sheen is at the top of the list, Variety has learned exclusively.
Sheen recently revealed that he had been given a firm offer to join the last season of “Dancing With the Stars,” but he turned down ABC’s request to participate in Season 28 because he was too afraid to dance. But Variety has learned that ABC still very much has an eye on Sheen for Season 29.
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“We’ve met with Charlie Sheen,” said Rob Mills, ABC Entertainment’s senior VP of alternative series, specials and late-night programming, confirms to Variety. “I don’t think it’s a huge secret because he came out and talked about it, but I would still love Charlie Sheen to come on.”
“I found him to be one of the nicest, most charming people,” Mills says of Sheen. “He is just a born entertainer and I think people would love to see him, but it may not be for him. What I really found very sweet about him is he basically said, ‘I really don’t dance. I’ve got two left feet.’ So there’s a real sweetness and vulnerability, which would be really fun to showcase on the show.”
ABC is also keeping an eye on NFL player Ryan Shazier, who was near-paralyzed after sustaining a serious spine injury during a game in 2017. A video of the former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker dancing at his wedding this year went viral, with fans elated to see Shazier dancing again, hopeful that he’ll be able to return to the field.
“Two years ago, he was hit on a Monday Night Football game and doctors feared he was paralyzed, and he has learned to walk again. Those are those great stories that are really what ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is all about — here’s somebody who has overcome something, and when you do that, you dance,” Mills says of Shazier. “He would be great.”
ABC might also take a look at the rest of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” cast, following cast member Karamo Brown’s turn in the ballroom this past season. Mills teases, “Karamo was so wonderful this year that one of the other ‘Queer Eye’ guys would be great.”
Mills explains that 29 seasons into the series, ABC is in the phase of trying to nab the stars that they’ve always wanted on the show. Last season, the network was successful in securing Christie Brinkley, who was on ABC’s wish list for years, but shortly into the competition, Brinkley suffered an injury and had to drop out of the show, with her daughter, model Sailor Brinkley-Cook, taking her place for the rest of the season. The ABC exec reveals that the network is “absolutely talking about” bringing Brinkley back for another try.
“Talk about people that you wanted forever! That’s Christie Brinkley!” Mills says. “We were celebrating when she said she would do it, and then, as you saw, she broke her wrist. It was such a great story that Christie was able to watch her daughter, Sailor, do it — that was the classic story that ‘Dancing With the Stars’ does so great; when you make lemonade out of lemons. But now we’d love to see her back dancing in the ballroom.”
While Mills and his team at ABC have a wish list for Season 29 in the works, the network does not comment on casting ahead of any official cast announcements.
Last season, Sean Spicer’s involvement in the show drew backlash from media experts and fans alike, but that doesn’t mean “DWTS” will rule out casting another polarizing political figure. (Keep in mind, Season 29 will be airing in fall 2020, coinciding with the presidential election.)
“I think you never say never to anything,” Mills responds when asked about the possibility of casting another political lightning rod. “We would never say never to someone in politics. We would look at anything, potentially, if it were good for the show.”
Asked about the Spicer backlash, the exec says when casting, “You want people to feel something and not feel apathy. You don’t want to upset people and turn them off.”
“At the end of the day, we’re talking about a ballroom dancing competition — we weren’t asking Sean Spicer to lead a debate or do anything political — but you have to look at the reaction and we saw what people said,” he adds. “I was frankly stunned that people still cared that much about Sean Spicer. I mean, gosh, he had been out of the public eye for about a year. But clearly I was wrong.”