NAMES & FACES

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Political pundit? Yes. Dancing whiz? Um, no. Or rather, not yet .

MSNBC host Tucker Carlson has decided to throw convention out the proverbial window in order to boogie down with the best of 'em next month on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." Just because.

"I'm not defending it as the smartest choice, but I think it's the most interesting," he told us via phone yesterday from Los Angeles (he flew in for the day from Maine to practice). "I think if you sat back and tried to plan my career, you might not choose this. But my only criterion is the interest level. I want to lead an interesting life."

Carlson says he wasn't "super familiar" with the show before he was asked to be a part of it and really doesn't have that much -- okay, any -- formal dancing experience. "The only dancing I've done is the kind you have dim memories of the next day," he laughed. "I don't dance."

Since the competition does involve a little shimmying, Carlson has been busy practicing the cha-cha and quickstep for four hours every day with his partner, Lena Grinenko . But he's a tad worried that the two weeks of rehearsal he missed to cover the war in Lebanon might hurt him. "It's hard for me to remember the moves," he confessed.

Carlson says his wife is "very amused" and his kids are excited, but "there's an expectation I won't ruin their lives by embarrassing them." So is he confident about his newly acquired skills? "No. But I am full of good cheer."

No word yet on what he'll wear on the show (spandex?!), but Carlson can guarantee that he won't be sporting his former perma-accessory, the bow tie. Carlson has his eye on Jerry Springer as the man to beat, but added that he's just excited (and scared) about the overall experience: "Okay, I'm 37. I've got four kids. I have a steady job. I don't do things that I'm not good at very often. . . . I'm psyched to get to do that." The show's third season premieres Sept. 12.

Making Waves at the Shore

Celebrities -- they're just like us!

Dave Grohl was spotted putting in family time with his wife, baby daughter and extended family in Rehoboth Beach last week before heading out on tour for three weeks (starting today in Washington).

The tattooed Foo Fighters frontman attracted loads of attention at the mini-amusement park Funland on Wednesday and Friday. Sources say the tan musician was "so friendly" to the staff and fellow parkgoers, signing autographs, posing for pictures -- the celeb works.

Grohl, 37, managed to squeeze in a few rounds of Whac-A-Mole along with a ride on the bumper cars and spinning teacups Friday night before escaping down the boardwalk, family in tow.

Baby Not on Board

TomKat to the rescue!


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