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'Dancing With the Stars' producer on injured dancers: 'They throw themselves into it'

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The producers of Dancing With the Stars are considering whether to rethink their rehearsal policies in light of injuries incurred by Jewel and Nancy O’Dell while preparing for the eighth season, which begins March 9. Both women had spent the last few weeks learning to do the waltz, when Jewel suffered tibia fractures in both legs and O’Dell did some serious damage to her knee — enough to require surgery. ABC will not confirm reports that Holly Madison, star of E!’s The Girls Next Door, will be Jewel’s replacement, though it seems unlikely that DWTS will have enough time to find a replacement for O’Dell.

“Obviously, going forward, we’re going to have to look at our policies,” DWTS executive producer Conrad Green tells EW. “Unfortunately, injuries can come anytime. This is an intensely physical show. It’s easy to forget that at home…. It’s also a great cautionary tale and lesson to all future celebrities. What’s important is that people don’t overdo it.” Green says he begins every season with a harsh warning that it’s not as easy as it looks to sashay across the dance floor. “That’s why we give them a month to train,” he says. “We want them to gently work their way into it. This is a marathon, not a sprint. But people get the bug. They get competitive.”

Ironically, Green says, its the younger, more athletic celebrities who seem more prone to injury. (Last season’s Misty May-Treanor, an Olympic volleyball player, tore her Achilles tendon and had to quit. For her part, O’Dell is a tennis player.) Out of the 90 celebrities who have participated in DWTS, Green says, only Jewel, O’Dell, and May-Treanor were hurt seriously enough to force a premature end to their DWTS stints. Green added that O’Dell and Jewel have already asked about coming back. “We usually have to tell people to slow down and pace themselves,” says Green. “George Hamilton had a bad knee and Cloris Leachman had high blood pressure and God knows what else. They knew their limitations so they played safely.”

Last week, Jewel told EW that she was struggling through rehearsals

because, “I’m dyslexic, so patterns are hard for me.” She also talked

about how she was using muscles she didn’t know she had. Jewel’s

husband, professional bull rider Ty Murray, is also participating in

the show. “I feel so awkward because I’m with someone who’s been

dancing their entire life,” said Jewel. “I just have to ignore myself

in the mirror, because it’s like watching a 5-year-old learn something

new.”

O’Dell also talked to EW and said she forgot about some of her old

injuries — which include tennis knee and a bulging disc —  until she

began twisting and turning during rehearsals. She had already lost five

pounds after a few weeks of training. “I have no dancing background,”

admitted O’Dell, who was planning on filing constant reports about her

performance to Access Hollywood. “If this were a tennis

tournament, I could predict my chances. But the most dancing I ever did

was during a pom pom routine when I was a JV cheerleader.”

Green says O’Dell and Jewel will still appear in Monday’s premiere.

Last week, Jewel told EW that she was struggling through rehearsalsbecause, “I’m dyslexic, so patterns are hard for me.” She also talkedabout how she was using muscles she didn’t know she had. Jewel’shusband, professional bull rider Ty Murray, is also participating inthe show. “I feel so awkward because I’m with someone who’s beendancing their entire life,” said Jewel. “I just have to ignore myselfin the mirror, because it’s like watching a 5-year-old learn somethingnew.”

O’Dell also talked to EW and said she forgot about some of her oldinjuries — which include tennis knee and a bulging disc —  until shebegan twisting and turning during rehearsals. She had already lost fivepounds after a few weeks of training. “I have no dancing background,”admitted O’Dell, who was planning on filing constant reports about herperformance to Access Hollywood. “If this were a tennistournament, I could predict my chances. But the most dancing I ever didwas during a pom pom routine when I was a JV cheerleader.”

Green says O’Dell and Jewel will still appear in Monday’s premiere.