March 6, 2009 / 8:22 PM / 10 years ago

ABC looks for replacement stars for "Dancing"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - “Dancing with the Stars” producers scrambled on Friday to find two swift replacements for next week’s season premiere after singer Jewel and celebrity journalist Nancy O’Dell dropped out with injuries.

Singer Jewel arrives at the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards show in Las Vegas, Nevada, May 18, 2008. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

The hit ABC show said it would not reveal the replacements until the eighth season kicks off on Monday.

But celebrity news sites said former Playboy model Holly Madison was expected to be one of them.

Madison, 30, was Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s “number one girlfriend” and starred in the U.S. TV reality show “The Girls Next Door” before ending her relationship with Hefner last year.

“She’s wanted to do it for so long,” Madison’s friend Bridget Marquardt told the Fox News Strategy Room discussion show.

“It just never worked with her schedule and Hef was always like ‘I don’t want you to do that,’ and now it’s her time, so I’m really happy for her,” Marquardt said.

ABC said that Jewel, a Grammy winning singer, had to leave the show after suffering a fractured tibia in each leg.

O’Dell, a journalist from the celebrity news show “Access Hollywood,” was sidelined with a torn meniscus in her knee. Both contestants suffered the injuries in practice.

There was no news Friday on who might replace O’Dell.

Former Playboy models have appeared on “Dancing with the Stars” in the past. Last season’s champion, model and host Brooke Burke once stripped down for Playboy, as did former contestant Kim Kardashian and 1980s pop singer Belinda Carlisle, 50, who is one of the stars in the upcoming season.

The other dancing stars include Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, rapper Lil’ Kim, actress Denise Richards and former Apple executive Steve Wozniak.

“Dancing with the Stars”, based on the British program “Strictly Come Dancing”, is one of the most-watched shows on U.S. television after “American Idol.” It drew about 19 million viewers per episode last season.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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