Ryan Lochte protesters storm stage during live debut of ‘Dancing With the Stars’

DANCING WITH THE STARS - "Episode 2301" - "Dancing with the Stars" is back with its most dynamic cast yet and ready to hit the ballroom floor. The competition begins with the two-hour season premiere, live, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) CHERYL BURKE, RYAN LOCHTE

DANCING WITH THE STARS – “Episode 2301” – “Dancing with the Stars” is back with its most dynamic cast yet and ready to hit the ballroom floor. The competition begins with the two-hour season premiere, live, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless)
CHERYL BURKE, RYAN LOCHTE

Two men rushed the stage of “Dancing With the Stars” right after controversial Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte performed, protesting his presence on the show.

According to Entertainment Weekly, off camera, Derek Hough tried to remove four women wearing similar anti-Lochte shirts. Security men tackled the two men on stage, knocking into Lochte and his pro dancer Cheryl Burke.  None of that was shown on screen.

Lochte and Burke were “too shaken” to participate in the customary press line after the show, their publicist told EW.

ABC News revealed the men’s names (Barzeen Soroudi and Sam Sotoodeh ) and showed actual video of their protest.

That incident overshadowed a decent night of dancing.

lochte-protester

Over two hours, nobody humiliated themselves and nobody received less than a 5. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry was clearly the weakest dancer of the bunch. He could very well go home first.

“Dancing With the Stars” managed to shell out enough bucks to bring back Hough, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Burke, all of whom are now more famous than half the cast.

The judges played their usual roles, with Julianne Hough and Len Goodman regularly tougher than Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba. Scores stayed in the narrow range of 5 to 8. You could argue that Rick Perry should have received 4s but the judges were clearly in a generous mood. And it’s fair to say nobody earned a 9 or 10 at this stage.

The dance that received the biggest reaction was a sort of cha cha from a delightful and delighted Vanilla Ice.

Newnan native, Georgia Tech grad and Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson showed he could dance a lot better than his peers expected. And Babyface, who helped found Atlanta’s LaFace Records, was a class act.

UPDATE: This season’s cast is more interesting than the past two and the ratings showed it: overnights of 13.7 million with a 2.6 rating for 18-49 year olds vs. 12.5 million and 1.8 in the spring and 13.2 million and 2.1 a year ago. We’ll see if this Lochte controversy will prop up ratings next week.

COULD BE FINALISTS

Laurie Hernandez (Olympic gymnast): The 16 year old gets pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy, a sign the producers know she is an instant contender for the mirror-ball trophy. Gymnasts always do well on this show. It’s a natural extension of their skill sets. Laurie does not disappoint,  packing her dance with verve, confidence and sweetness, too. Carrie Ann, Len and Bruno gave her 8s and Julianne a 7. Bruno: “You have everything at your disposal to be one of the best we ever had.” TOTAL: 31

DANCING WITH THE STARS - "Episode 2301" - "Dancing with the Stars" is back with its most dynamic cast yet and ready to hit the ballroom floor. The competition begins with the two-hour season premiere, live, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) VANILLA ICE, WITNEY CARSON

DANCING WITH THE STARS – “Episode 2301” – “Dancing with the Stars” is back with its most dynamic cast yet and ready to hit the ballroom floor. The competition begins with the two-hour season premiere, live, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless)
VANILLA ICE, WITNEY CARSON

Vanilla Ice (rapper, DIY star). He knows zip about the show but clearly has a dance background if you’ve seen his 1990s era videos. And he is a natural ham. He can’t help himself. His cha cha to his own “Ice Ice Baby” was hilariously entertaining. The crowd loved it. Was there any actual cha cha in there? Not especially. Len of course pointed that out. (He did that song on “Skating With the Stars,” too.). Len and Carrie Ann gave him a 7. Len, a 5 and Julianne, a 6. TOTAL: 25

James Hinchcliffe (Indy driver). He suffered an injury last year at 230 miles per hour, which somehow led him to DWTS. This man can dance. He looks like a natural with his Foxtrot. And he’s not bad on the eyes for the types of folks who vote.”That was knockout,” said Len Goodman. “A breath of fresh air,” said Julianne Hough. “First class,” Bruno Tonioli. Three 8s and a 7 from Julianne. TOTAL: 31

MIDDLE GROUND

DANCING WITH THE STARS - "Episode 2301" - "Dancing with the Stars" is back with its most dynamic cast yet and ready to hit the ballroom floor. The competition begins with the two-hour season premiere, live, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) LINDSAY ARNOLD, CALVIN JOHNSON JR.

DANCING WITH THE STARS – “Episode 2301” – “Dancing with the Stars” is back with its most dynamic cast yet and ready to hit the ballroom floor. The competition begins with the two-hour season premiere, live, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless)
LINDSAY ARNOLD, CALVIN JOHNSON JR.

Marilu Henner (actress, “Taxi”). She’s a huge fan of the show, finally got to join the cast and put together a solid jive. She clearly can dance and shows incredible dexterity and speed for a 64 year old. And heck, she’s got Derek Hough as her pro.  Three 7s and a 6 from Julianne Hough. TOTAL: 27

Calvin Johnson (retired NFL player, Ga. Tech grad). Several of his Detroit Lions roommates told the press they were skeptical about his dancing ability. Ditto his sister. Motivated, he actually showed some rhythm in his cha-cha-cha and did not embarrass himself. “Big personality, twinkle in the eyes,” Bruno said. Carrie Ann and Bruno gave him 7. Len and Julianne offered 6s. TOTAL: 26

Babyface (producer, R&B singer, founder LaFace Records). He is doing this show to honor his late mom, to get out of his comfort zone. He was smooth, provided great personality and stage presence. Len: “Style with a smile.” Julianne: “A little hectic. Timeless and classic, just like you.” Bruno and Carrie Ann gave 7s and Len and Julianne 6s. TOTAL: 26

Jana Kramer (country singer). She was very sultry during her Viennese Waltz. Bruno said: “I cannot wait to see your rumba! It’s going to be explosive!” Len felt it was too dramatic. Carrie: 7, Bruno: 8, Len and Julianne: 6 TOTAL: 27

Ryan Lochte (Olympic swimmer). Given all the heat he received for his lies and idiocy in Rio, can he bring in votes? I bet he’ll be gone midway through. He has zero dance experience and is clearly doing this to resurrect his reputation. Cheryl kept the choreography manageable. It wasn’t terrible. Bruno: “You’re not used to dry land yet.” Carrie Ann: “You have a long way to go.” Then the protesters interceded. “A little hurt but I wanted to do something I’m totally not comfortable with,” he said. All sixes. TOTAL: 24

Terra Jole (reality star). The first little person on the show ever. She held up really well, just six weeks after a baby. Len: “You are small in stature but big in heart.” Julianne: “You are a firecracker. You were born to entertainer.” Carrie Ann: 7, the other 6s. TOTAL; 25

PROBABLY OUT EARLY

Amber Rose (model, talk show host, Kanye’s ex). She seemed nervous. She did okay but I’m not sure she will generate a lot of votes. Maks might help her out though. Bruno: “You disconnect.” Carrie Ann: “You are a beautiful light.” She received rather kind 6s. TOTAL; 24

Jake T. Austin (former Disney star). His dance felt sloppy. I’m not sure enough people knows this actor well enough for him to generate a lot of votes. 6s from Carrie Ann and Bruno. 5s from Len and Julianne. TOTAL: 22

Maureen McCormick (March in “Brady Bunch”). She is (gasp!) 60 years old! She is thrilled to be here. (Her TV show mom and former DWTS dancer Florence Henderson was there, too.) She did a perfectly respectable Viennese Waltz. “You move very well,” Bruno said. “Relax more into it. Elongate those lines. Smooth the footwork.” Carrie Ann likes the emotion but felt she needs to trust her dance partner more. Carrie Ann and Bruno: 6s. Len and Julianne: 5s. TOTAL: 22

Rick Perry (former Texas governor). He wants to dance for his daughter’s wedding. He has no experience. It shows. His cha cha footwork was horrid. He at least enjoyed it and tried his best. Len: “It was a little pedestrian at times.” Julianne: “When in doubt, go full out.” He received four gentleman 5s. TOTAL: 20

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Monday, September 12, 2016

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