Terry Morrow: Knoxville's 2013 'Dancing' organizers looking at 'hit list' of local celebrities

Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel
Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge celebrates with the crowd after a 52-50 win over Kentucky in four overtimes on November 24, 2007. Ainge is on the "hit list" to participate in the next "Dancing With the Knoxville Stars."

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess // Buy this photo

Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel Tennessee quarterback Erik Ainge celebrates with the crowd after a 52-50 win over Kentucky in four overtimes on November 24, 2007. Ainge is on the "hit list" to participate in the next "Dancing With the Knoxville Stars."

The hit list is being put together for the 2013 edition of "Dancing With the Knoxville Stars," the fifth local production based on the ABC hit competition.

The event is set for Friday, March 22, at the Knoxville Expo Center, meaning time to recruit this year's cast is in full swing. As of deadline, former Vol and radio personality Erik Ainge is a firm commitment, sources tell me. Also WWST-FM midday host Dusti Kemps will represent her station.

Organizers are approaching a long list of public personalities who have the clout to raise thousands for East Tennessee Children's Hospital. The 2012 event raised $87,000. The 2011 benefit netted $56,000.

Usually eight to 10 local celebrities are paired with Knoxville dance instructors and given 10 lessons to work up a routine.

"Dancing" is a fund-raiser organized annually by radio station WWST-FM, 102.1, for the hospital.

Among the names "Dancing" organizers would love to get is race car driver Trevor Bayne, though he'll likely be in the thick of competition when "Dancing" routines are being worked up, so his schedule probably would not jive with the time commitment "Dancing" would require.

Others on the wish list include WBIR, Channel 10, anchor Robin Wilhoit, who has never been shy to say she'd love to do it. However, her busy schedule as an anchor may not allow her to do it. WATE, Channel 6, prime anchor Lori Tucker is a past winner of "Dancing."

A source says WVLT, Channel 8, morning anchor Bob Yarbrough is also high up on the "must-get" list.

"Live At Five At Four" co-host Russell Biven would be a popular contender, though he's turned down offers to do it before (as has former Vols head football coach Phillip Fulmer).

Comedian Leanne Morgan has also expressed a desire to trip the light fantastic for the hospital. She almost did last year's show but was tied up with working on a television pilot.

Actor Cylk Cozart, who grew up in Knoxville and has starred opposite Bruce Willis, has said he'd like to be part of the event after being approached about it. However, no solid commitment has been announced yet. Cozart devotes many hours to projects benefiting children.

E.W. Scripps Co. executive and former Knoxville News Sentinel publisher Bruce Hartmann is also on the "hit list," the source says. Jamie Satterfield represented the newspaper last year.

Other past participants include WBIR's Abby Ham, WVLT's Michele Silva, WWST's Frank Murphy and Olympic track star Dee Dee Trotter.

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com. On Twitter find him@telebuddy.

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