I am too tired to go crazy about this. And there really are so many hugely more important things going on the world practically every day.
I cannot let the addition of HLN host Nancy Grace to the lineup of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" pass without comment. It is such an exquisite example of how calculating and exploitative prime-time network TV can be.
Here is what I find debased about the selection of Grace: She probably got the job and the $500,000 that goes with it because she decided on her own that Casey Anthony was guilty and then, ignoring any sense of respect for the judicial system or fair play, pounded away on Anthony's alleged guilt day and night.
And when a jury did not convict Anthony of murder, and one might think Grace would show some respect for the verdict, she doubled down with her crazed, venom-dripping, death-grin delivery of the line about the "devil dancing tonight."
Here's what I wrote at the time in July:
Nancy Grace's reaction to the not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial is one for the ages of cable TV.
You could not invent a character like Grace. You might think Grace would be somewhat more even-handed after the woman she characterized as a murderer was declared not guilty.
But not Grace.
After priming the emotional pump with a description of members of the defense team sitting in a bar drinking a champagne toast, Grace says, "You know what? I'm not a preacher. And I'm not a rabbi. But something is wrong with that, because Caylee is dead. ... Somewhere out there tonight, the devil is dancing."
I look at Grace on this video, and I have no problem understanding why so many hate the media so much.
What does ABC get out of it? Someone for viewers to hate.
It is such a simple and calculated formula, but it works every Nielsen-loving time, because we have become such a hating culture.
Grace is indeed a TV woman perfectly pitched to the times in which we live.
In case you haven't seen them in a hundred other places, here's the ABC release with the other contestants who will be joining Grace for season 13 starting in September:
DAVID ARQUETTE -- David Arquette is an actor, writer, director, producer and soon to be dancer. In 1997 Arquette was discovered at Sundance for his role in “Johns.” Since that time, he has acted in dozens of feature films, including the “Scream” films, “Hamlet 2,” “The Grey Zone,” “Dream with the Fishes,” “Never Die Alone” and “The Darwin Awards.” This year he reprised his role as Deputy “Dewey” Riley in the much anticipated fourth installment of the “Scream” films. He has also joined the cast of the Disney Television interactive series, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” where he lends his voice as Scully, a lookout pirate parrot who helps Jake and his crew of kid pirates. In January 2003, Arquette formed a production company, Coquette Productions, with Courteney Cox. Through their company, he wrote and produced his directorial debut, “The Tripper,” as well as “The Butler’s in Love,” which he executive-produced and directed. Also under the Coquette banner he produced the F/X drama “Dirt” and ABC’s “Cougar Town,” with Bill Lawrence, which Arquette executive produces along with Cox, who stars. Up next, he will direct the 3D psychological thriller “Glutton” for Remember Dreaming Productions, executive-producing through Coquette.
RON ARTEST -- Born in Queensbridge, New York, Ron Artest is currently a member of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and a father to four children. He was signed to a five-year contract by the L.A. Lakers as a free agent in 2009 and has been playing professional basketball in the NBA since 1999. He was selected to the 2005-06 NBA’s All-Defensive Team, was voted by the media as 2003-04 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and was the only man with 271 steals in his first two seasons in the NBA
-- breaking Michael Jordan’s record. Artest won his first World Championship ring in June 2010 after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals, and received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award – the NBA’s highest citizenship and community service honor – in April 2011. In his career, he has played for the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets and now the Los Angeles Lakers. He has remained an active contributor in his hometown and in the home cities of the organizations for which he has played, as well as in regions globally that require urgent humanitarian aid. In August 2007, Artest formed the non-profit Xcel University to officially organize and streamline his charitable contributions and community endeavors under one umbrella. He joined a contingent of representatives from the NBA Players Association working with Feed the Children, as well as Project Contact Africa, and became a spokesman in PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) A.B.C. (Animal Birth Control) campaign in 2007. In the fall of 2008, Artest launched The Artest Math Masters program at Felix Cook Jr. Elementary School in partnership with the Houston Independent School District, which rewarded students who maintained high grades in Mathematics during the 2008-2009 school year. In fall 2010, he decided to raffle off his 2010 NBA World Championship Ring, with the proceeds going to Xcel University. Funds raised through the ring raffle were earmarked for non-profits that provide mental health therapists and mental health services to those who wouldn’t be able to otherwise afford them. Artest has visited dozens of community centers, schools and libraries in low income areas of numerous cities throughout his career, speaking to kids about the virtues of education and a life devoid of violence and drugs, and on the importance of getting a college education. He sponsors summer basketball tournaments in the Queensbridge Projects in New York City, sends kids from Queensbridge to summer camps, and pays tuition for kids from Queensbridge who show academic promise to attend private schools. In June 2011, he filed a petition to legally change his name to Metta World Peace.
CHAZ BONO -- Chaz Bono is an LGBT rights advocate, three time author, speaker and the only child of famed entertainers Sonny and Cher. His decision to come out as a Lesbian in 1995 prompted his public work in support of LGBT rights and social justice. Chaz has contributed as a writer-at-large to The Advocate and, in 1996, became the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Day spokesperson. He also served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and has spoken at dozens of universities and LGBT events. An acclaimed author, he has written three books, including Transition, which was released by Dutton on May 10th. Transition is his groundbreaking and candid account of a 40-year struggle to match his gender identity with his physical body. He has most recently shared his life and experiences in the three-time Emmy nominated documentary, “Becoming Chaz.” Premiering to standing ovations at this year’s Sundance, “Becoming Chaz” had its world television premiere on May 10, 2011 on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Chaz continues to create visibility, raise awareness and effect change for LGBT issues. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his fiancé, Jennifer Elia.
ELISABETTA CANALIS – Known for her gorgeous figure and striking expressions, Elisabetta Canalis became an instantly recognizable figure in the world of high fashion and advertising. She has worked with some of the greatest fashion icons, including Roberto Cavalli, and has graced such magazine covers as Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and Cosmopolitan. Born in Sassari, Sardinia, Italy, Canalis’ father, Cesare and mother, Bruna enrolled Elisabetta in the elite school Liceo Azuni, where she studied throughout her high school years. After graduating, she moved to Milan to study foreign languages at the prestigious Universita Statale. It was there that she made the bold career decision to pursue acting rather than foreign languages, and her enthusiasm for her craft soon landed her a series regular role on the infamous Italian television drama, “Striscia la Notizia,” for three years. The exposure and critical acclaim she received presented Canalis the opportunity to work in American & Italian film and TV. She has since appeared in the comedies “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo” and “Virgin Territory.” In Italy she appeared in the films “La Seconda Volta Non Si Scorda Mai,” “La fidanzata di papa,” “A Natale mi Sposo,” as well as “Christmas in NY.” Television credits include the Italian series “Carabinieri” and the sitcom “Love Bugs.” Canalis has also demonstrated her impressive dramatic capabilities in America with a recurring role on TNT’s smash hit, “Leverage.” Her entertainment career continued to blossom
after her big screen debut. Her drive for success and passion for music were united when she hosted the Italian version of “Total Request Live,” as well as Italy’s annual music festival, Festivalbar 2007. Recently she co-hosted the 61st edition of the Sanremo Music Festival, which is considered to be the most prestigious television event in Italy. Canalis is also known for her great philanthropic endeavors. Combining her deep love of animals and her passion for modeling, she participated in an upcoming anti-fur campaign with PETA. An avid equestrian for the past 10 years, she says that her opposition to animal cruelty began as a young girl. Her work with PETA solidifies her determination to end all forms of animal abuse and neglect. Canalis currently resides in Los Angeles, California and Milan, Italy but she loves coming back to Sardinia, the island where she was born and where part of her family lives.
KRISTIN CAVALLARI -- Born in Denver, Colorado, Kristin Cavallari moved to California with her brother and father as a high school junior when the first season of “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” began production for MTV. She was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 2006 for Choice Reality Star. After completing two successful years on the hit show, Cavallari switched gears to focus on a career in acting. From 2006-2009 she starred in such films as “Van Wilder: Freshman Year,” “Green Flash,” “Spring Breakdown” and “Wild Cherry,” alongside Rumer Willis and Rob Schneider. Next she played a guest role on “CSI: NY,” and most recently on ABC’s “The Middle.” Other credits include “Veronica Mars,” the lead role in Teddy Geiger’s “For You I Will (Confidence)” music video and Gavin Degraw’s video for his single, “In Love with a Girl.” In May 2009, Cavallari confirmed that she would be joining the cast of MTV’s reality series “The Hills.” Currently serving as ambassador of children’s charity One Kid One World, Cavallari joins the fight to aid underprivileged children around the globe. In 2010 she traveled to El Salvador, where she spent time rebuilding schools in local communities. Continuing her humanitarian efforts, she made her way to Kenya in early 2011 for another project for One Kid One World. Most recently Cavallari combined her passion for fashion and love for charity by teaming up with Shoe Dazzle to design a spring shoe, with proceeds benefiting the charity. Her new spring shoe, named Bardot, will be available in summer of 2011.
NANCY GRACE -- An outspoken, tireless advocate for victims’ rights and one of TV’s most respected legal analysts, Nancy Grace is the powerful force behind HLN’s top-rated “Nancy Grace.” A former prosecutor with an unparalleled record of success, Grace’s life changed forever in 1979 when her fiancé, Keith Griffin, was shot and killed. She abandoned plans to become an English professor and turned to criminal justice. Her first book, Objection!, became an instant New York Times bestseller, as did her two subsequent novels, The Eleventh Victim and Death on the D-List. A television movie adaptation of The Eleventh Victim is currently in development. Grace initially came to TV from the Atlanta Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, where she served for over a decade as a felony prosecutor of violent crimes. Known for her authentic sensibility and her firebrand take on the justice system, she was tapped to co-host Court TV’s “Cochran and Grace,” and later, the live daily trial coverage program, “Closing Arguments.” Grace, her husband and her twins reside in Atlanta and New York City.
ROB KARDASHIAN -- Born in Los Angeles, California, Rob Kardashian is the fourth child and only son of the late attorney Robert Kardashian and Kris Jenner; he has five sisters, Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner. Rob graduated from the prestigious Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California with a degree in Business Entrepreneurship. He stars in the No. 1 hit reality television show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and also stars in the hit series for E!, “Khloe & Lamar.” True to the entrepreneurial attitude he developed during college, Rob is involved in several business ventures. He is co-manager of the pop music, female super-group BG5, alongside renowned manager Kenneth Crear. He also enjoys a successful modeling career as the face of the popular brand Ocean Pacific. Rob travels across the country making personal appearances for club venues and charity events. In his spare time, he maintains an active lifestyle. He runs and plays basketball with his NBA Laker Champion brother-in-law, Lamar Odom, loves to play golf, and is an avid skier. Rob currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with his sister, Khloe, and Lamar.
CARSON KRESSLEY -- Emmy-winning television star, celebrity stylist, author and fashion designer Carson Kressley is currently starring in “Carson-Nation,” a one-hour reality show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, in which he travels to small towns throughout the U.S., transforming lives one person at a time. Previously, Kressley helmed Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed “How to Look Good Naked,” and earned a primetime Emmy for his role on Bravo’s breakout hit series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” He hosted ABC’s “True Beauty” from executive producers Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher, the WB series “Crowned,” as well as “Your Own Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star” on OWN. He was a frequent style contributor on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” Kressley co-starred in Universal’s “The Perfect Man” and opposite John Goodman in NBC’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus.” Host of the 2008 True Colors tour with Cyndi Lauper and the B52’s, which raised awareness and promoted equality for the LGBT community, Kressley is also a New York Times best-selling author with three books to his credit, including the children’s book You’re Different and That’s Super, a children’s book promoting diversity and tolerance. A strong supporter of many philanthropic causes, he has worked with The Trevor Project, The Human Rights Campaign, The Empire State Pride Agenda, LIGALY, GLSEN, AIDS WALK, and the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation. Kressley is the founder of Manhattan’s Ali Forney Center’s “Styled For Success” program, which provides career wardrobes for formerly homeless youth, and was the founding donor of the first scholarship program for LGBT youth in his hometown of Allentown, Pennsylvania. When he is not working, he can be found on one of his American Saddlebred show horses, with which he has achieved World Champion status.
RICKI LAKE -- Poised to return to daytime television with the all-new “The Ricki Lake Show” in the fall of 2012, Ricki Lake is a pop culture icon who has built a career on her candid, “straight talk” sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature. She has maintained a worldwide fan base that is a true cross-section of age and ethnicity, and her approachable appeal has charmed international movie and television audiences for more than two decades. As Tracy Turnblad, the zaftig heroine of the original John Waters’ film “Hairspray,” Lake made an acting debut that positioned her as an “entertainer to watch” in Hollywood. Later, with a surprise turn as a talk show host, she met with unprecedented success and earned her place as a beloved media personality across the globe. Lake has recently completed work on a memoir due on shelves in the spring 2012. In addition, she executive-produced the critically acclaimed documentary, “The Business of Being Born,” which debuted at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival and examines natural childbirth in the United States. That project has generated a grassroots movement and led to the publication of her first book, Your Best Birth. On November 8, 2011, Lake and her filmmaking partner, Abby Epstein, will release a four-part follow-up DVD series, “More Business of Being Born,” offering invaluable information and featuring birth stories from some of Hollywood’s most notable celebrities. Lake starred in John Waters’ “Cry Baby,” opposite Johnny Depp, and “Serial Mom,” alongside Kathleen Turner. Other notable appearances include the contemporary classic “Working Girl,” the acclaimed drama “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” the romantic comedy “Mrs. Winterbourne,” opposite Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser, and “Where the Day Takes You,” opposite Dermot Mulroney. She also starred in the CBS film “Babycakes” and the popular television series “China Beach” and “The King of Queens.”
J.R. MARTINEZ -- J.R. Martinez is an Iraq War veteran, motivational speaker and actor on ABC’s “All My Children.” In April 2003, at 19 years of age, Martinez was serving as a humvee driver for the United States Army in Iraq when his left front tire hit a landmine. He suffered smoke inhalation and burns to more than 40 percent of his body. He was immediately evacuated and sent to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX, where he spent 34 months in recovery. Since his injury, Martinez has undergone 33 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery. While in recovery, he started speaking to other burn patients within the hospital, sharing his experiences and listening to theirs. News of his story and efforts to help others quickly spread, first on a local level and then to national circuits, leading to appearances on “Oprah,” “60 Minutes,” CNN and more. Bilingual in English and Spanish, Martinez has traveled the country since 2004, spreading his message of resilience
and optimism. Today he is a sought-after motivational speaker and has shared the stage with many notable individuals. In October 2008, he joined the cast of ABC’s Emmy® Award-winning daytime drama, “All My Children,” as combat veteran Brot Monroe. He continues to balance his motivational speaking engagements and charity work with his acting. He is also busy working on his memoir. Born in Shreveport, LA, Martinez moved to Hope, AZ, where he and his mother lived until he was 17. They moved to Dalton, GA, just prior to his senior year, the place he proudly calls his hometown.
CHYNNA PHILLIPS -- Wife, mother, singer/songwriter, actress, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Chynna Phillips has been surrounded by Hollywood since she first entered this world. Born to musicians John and Michelle Phillips of famed 60’s group The Mamas and The Papas, Chynna began her acting career appearing in John Hughes’ 1982 teen-sensation, “Some Kind of Wonderful.” She followed up with roles in 1988’s “Caddyshack II,” 1989’s “Say Anything,” and played the character Roxanne Pulitzer in the 1989 TV biopic, “Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer.” Next Phillips, along with childhood friends Carnie & Wendy Wilson, formed the trio Wilson Phillips. In 1990 the group released their self-titled debut album which would go on to sell ten million copies worldwide, go 5x multi-platinum, with three No. 1 singles. Billboard declared them the best selling female group of all time, breaking the record previously set by Motown’s The Supremes. Wilson Phillips was nominated for five Grammy Awards, an American Music Award and won a Billboard Music Award (for “Hold On” and “Release Me,” written by Phillips). Taking a break from the group, Phillips released a successful solo album entitled “Naked & Sacred,” while also filming and starring in the lead role of the television remake of famed Broadway musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” That same year she also married husband and fellow actor William Baldwin. She then took time off to focus on family, and had three children, while also reclaiming herself and becoming a Christian. In 2004 she reunited with Wilson Phillips and they released their 3rd album, “California,” which paid homage to west coast musicians from the 1960s and 1970s. In 2009 Phillips teamed up with singer/songwriter Vaughan Penn to form the Christian pop duo Chynna & Vaughan, and put out an album entitled “One Reason.” Shortly thereafter, Wilson Phillips also released their 1st Christmas album, “Wilson Phillips Christmas in Harmony.” Earlier this year, it was announced that Wilson Phillips would be reuniting again for an album of original music to celebrate their 20 years together as a musical group. The group was also featured in this year’s blockbuster comedy film, “Bridesmaids.” Phillips works with the charity Los Angelitos Orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico, which is devoted to helping the children who are displaced by the constant violence in the city and to creating a warm and loving environment for the kids.
HOPE SOLO -- Hope Solo is widely considered the best goalkeeper in the world and has been the starter for the United States women’s national team since 2005. She scored 109 goals as a high school forward before moving to goal at the University of Washington near her hometown of Richland, Washington. At the 2011 World Cup, Solo recorded two shutouts in group play, and then, in what is considered one of the greatest soccer games in history, made a save in a penalty shootout against Brazil in the quarterfinal, helping the Americans advance to the semis. The U.S. reached the final, falling to Japan in a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw. Solo was awarded the Adidas Golden Glove by FIFA as the tournament’s top goalkeeper. She was also the starting goalkeeper for the United States in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where the U.S. women’s team won the gold medal by defeating Brazil 1–0 in extra time, in no small measure due to Solo’s performance as she stopped an energetic Brazilian attack, making save after save. Solo started her Women’s Professional Soccer career playing for Saint Louis Athletica, and was named Goalkeeper of the Year in 2009. Since then she has played for the Atlanta Beat and currently plays for magicJack as the starting goalkeeper, and is a two-time WPS All Star. When not playing soccer, Solo enjoys reading, basketball, beach volleyball and other outdoor activities. She loves traveling the world and gives back through community service projects.
“Dancing with the Stars” returns with a few huge new surprises, plus all the elements viewers have come to know and love. “Macy’s Stars of Dance,” which features some of the best choreographers and performers from different styles of dance and offers viewers performances that represent the peak of achievement in their genres, will return on “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show.” One of the “Macy’s Stars of Dance” performances will be the popular “Design-a-Dance,” where fans have the chance to select their favorite professional dancers, dance styles, songs and costumes at www.abc.com. New this season will be “AT&T’s Spotlight Performance,” which features and celebrates people whose lives have been changed forever by dance.