?Dancing With The Stars? Returns To A Changed Ballroom

Dancing With the Stars kicked off its season last night, with a new host and a number of changes as the ABC show sought to fit coronavirus protocols into its routine.

Tyra Banks took over as host, after the producers opted to replace longtime staple Tom Bergeron. Derek Hough also sat in as a judge for Len Goodman – who appeared briefly via remote – with the explanation that Goodman was unable to travel to the US from London due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The set had a new look, with the judges sitting socially distanced, and the contestants watching from an elevated platform above.

The centerpiece among the contestants was animal activist Carole Baskin, made famous, and notorious, by the Netflix unscripted series “Tiger King.” She danced to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” garnering the lowest score of the night from the judges. Disney Channel star Skai Jackson and One Day at a Time Justina Machado tied for first.

Meanwhile, the family of Baskin’s missing husband made an plea for help just as she hit the dance floor. In a commercial that aired during the premiere, Don Lewis’ three daughters, Gail, Linda and Donna, as well as his former assistant, Anne, asked those with information regarding his disappearance to come forward. Their lawyer, John M. Phillips, further stated, “Don Lewis mysteriously disappeared in 1997. His family deserves answers; they deserve justice. Do you know who did this or if Carole Baskin was involved?”

Baskin has been accused of murdering Lewis in the wildly popular Netflix docuseries Tiger King. Specifically, tiger wrangler Joe Exotic, née Joseph Maldonado-Passage, speculated that Baskin fed rescued tigers her then-husband’s remains. To this day, Baskin vehemently denies the accusations and decries her portrayal in the docuseries.

After the first night of competition, here’s where the stars stand on the leaderboard:

  • Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten – 21
  • Jesse Metcalfe & Sharna Burgess – 21
  • Kaitlyn Bristowe & Artem Chigvintsev – 20
  • Nev Schulman & Jenna Johnson – 20
  • Monica Aldama & Val Chmerkovskiy – 19
  • Anne Heche & Keo Motsepe – 18
  • Monica Aldama & Val Chmerkovski – 18
  • AJ Mclean & Cheryl Burke – 18
  • Justina Machado & Sasha Farber – 18
  • Johnny Weir & Britt Stewart – 18
  • Vernon Davis & Peta Murgatroyd – 17
  • Nelly & Daniella Karagach – 16
  • Chrishell Stause and Gleb Savchenko – 13
  • Charles Oakley & Emma Slater – 12
  • Carole Baskin & Pasha Kovalev – 11