Men take the floor during `Dancing' premiere

LOS ANGELES (AP) - September 22, 2009

PHOTOS: Men take the dance floor
PHOTOS: The Season 9 cast of "Dancing with the Stars"
VIDEO: Action News reports on the "Dancing" premiere

Eight celebrity male contestants took the floor Monday on the premiere of the ninth season of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." The women make their debuts Tuesday.

"I'm a little intimidated actually," said pop star Mya after watching the men perform. "I'm glad that we sat this one out, but it's very informative how the process works. ... The judges are very hard."

Aaron Carter came out on top, earning 32 points out of 40 for his two dances. The 21-year-old singer credited his professional partner, Karina Smirnoff, with keeping him calm before their opening performance.

"She took the pressure off of me completely for this," he said. "She was holding it all in and keeping it from me."

"I was freaking out," Smirnoff said later.

Ashley Hamilton (son of George Hamilton), who tied NFL star Michael Irvin for the night's lowest score of 19, said focusing on Irvin's nerves distracted him from his own.

"I had to talk him off the ledge," Hamilton said. "He was more scared than I was, and he helped me not be so nervous."

The football star said preparing to dance in front of a national audience was "a million times worse" than taking the field for the Super Bowl.

"I've always said I would never sing and dance in front of anybody, so overcoming those fears and coming out here, I consider that to be a successful night," Irvin said.

Donny Osmond, who finished in second place with 30 points, earned rousing applause, but head judge Len Goodman criticized the entertainer for being "too theatrical."

Osmond's professional partner, Kym Johnson, said she's tried to tone down the fun during rehearsals by wielding a cane.

"I have duct tape, as well," she said.

"It's like I'm getting lessons from Tony Soprano," Osmond quipped.

Mixed martial artist Chuck Liddell impressed the judges - and the audience - with his dance moves. He made his way through the fox trot, keeping a (sometimes forced) smile on his face.

"I'm known for not getting nervous, but I haven't had that much adrenaline running through me for something in a long, long time. I don't have that much adrenaline before I go fight," he said.

He acknowledged that ballroom dancing is "something I'm not real comfortable doing," but said he wanted to prove that "just 'cause we're fighters, we're not Neanderthals."

"I have a college degree. I have a family. I'm a normal person and we do normal things," he said, adding, "hopefully we can get more fans for our sport."

Liddell finished with 22 points.

Former House Republican Whip Tom DeLay also surprised the crowd. The 62-year-old politician performed a cha-cha to the 1960s hit "Wild Thing."

"Parts were magic, parts were tragic," judge Goodman said.

DeLay even wowed his professional partner, Cheryl Burke.

"I just busted out laughing because I was, like, I can't believe this old man is here on his one knee playing the guitar and doing exactly what I told him to do, no questions asked," she said after the show.

"I have to say I nailed it," said DeLay, wearing orthopedic shoes to help alleviate the bruising and near stress-fractures on his feet after weeks of rehearsals. "I felt good. My hips were working. Cheryl held me up and I really, I did it. I nailed it."

DeLay finished with 20 points.

"Iron Chef America" host Marc Dacascos earned 29 points. Professional snowboarder Louie Vito, who did a flip as part of his cha-cha, finished with 27.

Next, it's the ladies' turn, and the pressure's on.

"When you hear the crowd and there's an orchestra behind you and you just want to be fabulous and you only have one take, so I'm nervous," said actress Debi Mazar. "It's a natural feeling to have. I'm first up."

Two contestants - one male, one female - will be eliminated during Wednesday's episode.

ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co.

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