Will Jewel and Nancy O'Dell Be Replaced on Dancing?

Photo: Zach Hyman/PatrickMcMullan/Sipa

With the shocking news that an injured Jewel and Nancy O’Dell were dropping out of Dancing with the Stars before the show’s season 8 premiere on Monday, March 9, the burning question is: Who’ll replace them?

“We’re not even letting anyone know if we are replacing Nancy and Jewel,” DWTS host Samantha Harris tells PEOPLE. “Monday night is going to be the big surprise. Are we still going to have 13 couples? Will we throw someone in at the last minute, which really isn’t very fair, but that’s part of the excitement of reality TV? Or will we just go with 11 couples?”

And the twists also extend to when eliminations will begin on the ABC show. “There’s the question of whether we’ll start eliminating them right away or will we wait a little bit longer?” says Harris. “This season we had already planned on having no eliminations the first week so we’ll have at least two weeks to see everybody. It’s going to be very interesting to see how it all unfolds.

Dancing executive producer Conrad Green told PEOPLE on Thursday that both Jewel, diagnosed with a fractured tibia in both legs, and O’Dell, who has a torn meniscus that will require surgery, hope to come back to the show and give the ballroom another try.

“This is some serious drama leading up to our big premiere,” says Harris. “We’ve never had two stars drop out due to injury in any one season, let alone before the show has kicked off.” — Serena Kappes

Zach Hyman/PatrickMcMullan/Sipa

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