Let’s consider this a benefit from the pandemic.
Yes, the lockdown made people better at laptops and Zoom calls and maybe home-cooking. Beyond that, it drove them to dance … setting up “Come Dance with Me” (shown here0, which debuts at 8 p.m. Friday (April 15) on CBS.
“This was pre-pandemic when we first got into it,” LL Cool J, one of the producers, told the Television Critics Association. “Even at that time, I felt … the world could use a nice family show that people could dance to.”
Then the world changed, said Chris O’Donnell, another producer. “Covid hit and Tiktok hit and all of a sudden, we found ourselves sheltering in place with our families and doing our little dance moves.”
Now bigger moves are coming. The show has 12 dance duos, said CBS’ Julie Holland, with “some of the country’s best young, trained dancers, along with their untrained parents.” Those parents include a doctor, two engineers, a social worker and the drummer for Limp Bizkit, a rap rock group that has three Grammy nominations.
Some of them have no dance background … which O’Donnell can empathize with. “Getting out there on the dance floor has never been my complete comfort zone, (but) what would you not do for your little daughter?”
In their main line of work, he and LL Cool J are catching crooks and saving the world … or, at least, pretending to. They star in CBS’ “NCIS: Los Angeles.”
But at home? O’Donnell has five children; Cool J has four and recalls some vivid experiences: “I actually did do the daddy-daughter dance …. I felt absolutely ridiculous when I did ‘The Nutcracker’ with my daughter, but I did it for her.”
O’Donnell was shown the “Come Dance” idea and brought it to Cool J. They’ll stay off-camera, but they lined up Jenna Dewan to be a producer and judge.
“I relate so much to … ‘Come Dance with Me,” because I was this kid dancer,” Dewan said. “I was the diehard dancer who … didn’t have these opportunities at the time.”
She danced back-up for Janet Jackson and others, before landing “Step Up” (2006), a movie about a rich-girl dancer who reluctantly pairs with a delinquent guy doing community-service at her school. She starred with Channing Tatum; they dated, then were married for nine years.
Now she’s a busy actress (currently on “The Rookie”) and heads a “Come Dance with Me” panel that also has Tricia Miranda and Dexter Mayfield. Hosting is Philip Lawrence who, like O’Donnell, has five kids.
“We’ve got a very busy household,” Lawrence said. “And we are an extremely musical household …. When the pandemic hit and Tiktok just exploded, … it’s all we were doing all day long.”
The pandemic had nudged him into dancing; now he’s hosting a dance show.