Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lachey practices fast footwork


Drew Lachey can't wait to step out on the U.S. Bank Arena floor at 7:30 p.m. today with the ”Dancing with the Stars” tour.

For those couple of hours, he can forget about his hectic life and just concentrate on entertaining the hometown crowd.

"It's always hard when I come to town, running around trying to see everybody and do everything," says Lachey, 31, who won the "Dancing With the Stars" TV competition two years ago.


The College Hill native has never been busier. He's touring three days a week with the dancing stars, then flying back to Los Angeles to rehearse and host the live "Dance Wars: Bruno vs. Carrie Anne" spinoff at 8 p.m. Mondays (Channels 9, 22).

This homecoming will be crazier than others because older brother Nick is in town. He plans to hook up sometime today with Nick, who sings with his "Clash of the Choirs" vocalists at the Rock Against AIDS fundraiser 8 p.m. Friday at Music Hall Ballroom.

"We'll get to catch up for a few minutes," says Drew, who spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with Nick in Los Angeles.

Drew's to-do list for his visit also includes getting a Frisch's Big Boy sandwich, a United Dairy Farmers milkshake, some Skyline Chili and a couple of bottles of Montgomery Inn rib sauce for the road.

"There's no dieting when you come to Cincinnati. You cram in as much as you can - and then you get on the plane and explode," says Lachey, who first found fame with brother Nick in the 98° pop band 10 years ago.

At U.S. Bank Arena, Drew will work off the extra pounds by dancing with Cheryl Burke, his partner for the 2006 TV championship. Also scheduled to perform are Monique Coleman, Joey Lawrence, Wayne Newton, Mark Ballas, Edyta Sliwinska, Alec Mazo, Derek Hough, Brian Fortuna, Kym Johnson and Louis Van Amstel.

"The crowd for last year's show (at U.S. Bank Arena) was the best one we had. They were excited and they loved it. Maybe it was because Jerry Springer (a former Cincinnati mayor and 2006 TV contestant) was there," he says.

"I try to do a good show every time. Of course, my energy level is a bit higher when I come to Cincinnati," he says.

Reality TV has been great for the brothers. Nick starred in MTV's "Newlyweds" with then-wife Jessica Simpson, then won NBC's "Choirs" competition Dec. 20. ("It was a good thing he had a choir to support him, otherwise he wouldn't have won," Drew jokes.)

Winning "Dancing with the Stars" has led to Drew co-hosting the Miss USA pageant, subbing as "Dancing" co-host last fall during Samantha Harris' maternity leave, and hosting "Dance Wars."

When the dance tour and "Dance Wars" end next month, Drew looks forward to spending more time with his wife, Lea, his School for Creative & Performing Arts sweetheart, and their 22-month-old daughter, Isabella. Lea has remained in Los Angeles to launch an online bakery,, with her mother.

"I know it sounds greedy, but I like being able to do a little bit of everything," Drew says. "Live performance is my passion. I'm enjoying the hosting gig and being involved with a TV show ('Dance Wars') from the beginning, where they could shape the format around my relationship with Bruno and Carrie Anne.

"I like working in L.A. and being able to live in my own home and see my family. It's just a great scenario right now."