Video: 'Tiger King' star Carole Baskin, rapper Nelly, Super Bowl tight end Vernon Davis and more join 'Dancing with the Stars'
Former Oklahoma zookeeper, political candidate and "Tiger King" star Joe Exotic probably won't be a fan of the 29th season of "Dancing with the Stars."
That's because big-cat enthusiast Carole Baskin - the Florida animal sanctuary operator whose nonprofit organization successfully sued Joe Exotic for more than $1 million for trademark infringement and other civil wrongs and was prominently featured in the Netflix smash "Tiger King" - headlines the upcoming season of the ABC reality show.
The full slate of stars who will compete on the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars" was unveiled today on "Good Morning America."
Along with Baskin, the cast will include Grammy-winning rapper Nelly, Super Bowl champion tight end Vernon Davis, Olympic ice skater Johnny Weir, "Six Days Seven Nights" actress Anne Heche, "Desperate Housewives" star Jesse Metcalf, "Cheer" coach Monica Aldama, "One Day at a Time" star Justina Machado, "The Real" co-host Jeannie Mai, Disney Channel alumnus Skai Jackson, NBA power forward Charles Oakley, "Catfish" host Nev Schulman and "Selling Sunset" reality star Chrishell Stause.
They join previously announced cast members Backstreet Boy AJ McLean and "Bachelorette" star Kaitlyn Bristowe.
As previously reported, Netflix's hit docuseries "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness" chronicles of the bizarre life and murder-for-hire trial of Joe Exotic - the flamboyant former Oklahoma roadside zoo operator, big-cat breeder and gubernatorial and presidential candidate.
As The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay reported Joe Exotic - whose real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, but he is also known as Joe Schreibvogel - was sentenced earlier this year to 22 years in federal prison after he was convicted of twice hiring someone to kill Baskin, a vocal opponent of his former Wynnewood exotic animal park and its practices.
As I noted in my "Tiger King" review, the Netflix docuseries also delves into Baskin's own scandalous background: A crusader against the private breeding of big cats, she actually got into the sanctuary business through her second husband, Don Lewis, an eccentric millionaire who left his wife and children to marry Carole, who was 22 years his junior, and loved breeding all kinds of wildlife. Lewis mysteriously vanished in 1997 and was never seen again, leaving Joe Exotic and Baskin's other rivals, as well as Lewis' ex-wife and adult children, speculating that Carole was behind his disappearance.
Not surprisingly, Baskin has been vocal about how much she detests "Tiger King" since the series debuted to huge viewership and social media appeal in March. She said today on "Good Morning America" that she hopes that "Dancing with the Stars" will help show her in a new light.
"The biggest thing for me is that the longer my partner and I can stay in the running and in the competition, it will keep the cats in the forefront of the viewer's eye. And to me, that's where 'Tiger King' missed the ball. It really should have been focused on the animals, and I'm hoping that 'Dancing with the Stars' will do that," Baskin told "GMA."
"'Tiger King' really glamorized animal abusers and villainized me for trying to stop animal abuse, so I felt really betrayed by that. But what amazed me was how many people believed that false portrayal of me without doing anything to find out who I really am. So, it's been a nightmare since 'Tiger King' aired."
Supermodel Tyra Banks is taking over "Dancing with the Stars" hosting duties, replacing Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, while the judging panel will remain the same, with Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli returning.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the show has a new rule requiring all pro dancers - even those who are married to another pro - to be quarantined apart from one another. The goal of this precaution is to prevent the elimination of two pros and their celebrity partners should one test positive for COVID-19, "GMA" reports.
"DWTS" Season 29 premieres Monday, Sept. 14 on ABC.