Silver-haired Southern chef Paula Deen is ditching the kitchen and strapping on her dancing shoes to join the cast of “Dancing With the Stars.” The former Food Network star, who's been embroiled in controversy since 2013 over racist remarks, and her team have been working to get her back in the good graces of the masses.
E! News reports Deen, 68, will join this season of the popular ABC competition series, and multiple sources confirmed her participation. ABC, however, has declined to comment. Neither Deen nor any member of her camp has confirmed or denied the casting rumors.
If the rumors are true, Deen will be in good company. E! reports that Grammy Award-winning musician Chaka Khan will be joining the “DWTS” cast. This comes not long after it was announced that Nick Carter and Bindi Irwin would also be showing off their killer moves on the ballroom. Carter confirmed the news on Twitter Wednesday morning. His band, the Backstreet Boys, further confirmed the news, sending their congratulations to the musician turned reality star. Irwin also confirmed the good news on Twitter, sharing a video similar to Carter’s earlier in the week.
As for the “DWTS” pros, fans can expect a majority of their old favorites to return for the upcoming season. Derek Hough revealed on Aug. 20 that he would be competing for the Mirror Ball trophy one last time in Season 21. That same day, “Good Morning America” announced that he will be up against dancing professionals Val Chmerkovskiy, Peta Murgatroyd, Mark Ballas, Witney Carson, Artem Chigvintsev, Sharna Burgess and Allison Holker. Earlier that week, Karina Smirnoff shared with Instagram followers that, after a season-long hiatus, she was ready to return to the competition.
Unfortunately, longtime judge Len Goodman will not be featured in Season 21. According to executive producer Rob Wade, Goodman, 71, was unable to fit “DWTS” into his busy schedule. In addition to his judging gig, Goodman recently became a grandfather and has committed to judging “Strictly Come Dancing UK.” Wade said Goodman may be featured occasionally on "DWTS" in some capacity, though he did not share further details.