Why LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell Signed On to Produce ‘Come Dance With Me’

“The world could use a nice family show that’s a lot of fun,” says LL Cool J

LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell
LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell (Getty)

The last thing people might have expected from “NCIS: LA” stars Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J is a reality series where professional child dancers invite their parents onto the dance floor, but it turns out the heartwarming “Come Dance With Me” competition, which premieres April 15 on CBS, is very much in their wheelhouse.

During a virtual CBS panel on Wednesday, O’Donnell revealed he’s been working on the idea for a few years with Reinout Oerlemans at 3 Ball Productions, and that his crime-solving partner on TV wanted in on the project.

“Chris came to me with this germ of an idea and I immediately gravitated towards it, “said Cool J. “I thought it was an incredible idea. I thought it was really fun. I thought the energy was right. This was pre-pandemic, but even at that time, I felt like the world could use a nice family show that people could dance to and enjoy.”

And the idea only seemed even more right when the pandemic hit. “All of a sudden COVID hit and TikTok hit and we found ourselves sheltering in place at home with our families and doing these little dance videos,” said O’Donnell. “I was watching my oldest daughter teach her little brothers how to do dances and it’s kind of just set up [that] the timing is right for a show like this.”

While O’Donnell and Cool J are strictly behind the scenes as producers, the two know what it’s like to get out of their comfort zone to bond with your kid.

“I actually did do the daddy-daughter dance with my youngest daughter at school,” the rapper-actor said. “I did the Nutcracker. I felt absolutely ridiculous when I did with my daughter, but I did it.”

Added O’Donnell, “I have five kids. [Cool J’s] youngest and my oldest are the same age and they were at opposing schools. So we were going through the daddy-daughter dances at the same time. Because what would you not do for your daughter? Getting out on the dance floor has never been my complete comfort zone. [All I’ve] got [is] the White Man’s Overbite…,” he laughed, saying most of his dance moves came from “Dance Fever” host Deney Terrio.

Asked whether audiences will connect with yet another dance series, O’Donnell replied, “You just don’t know if people are gonna tune in. All I know is we put together a great product here. Everybody is a dancer, whether they want to admit it or not, when the doors are closed. And there’s something about seeing people put themselves out there on national TV for the love of their kids. And go for it, which is pretty amazing… I think that this is something that families will watch together.”

Philip Lawrence hosts the series with “Step Up” star Jenna Dewan, celebrity dancer Dexter Mayfield and hip hop choreographer Tricia Miranda serving as judges.

The 12 parent-kid teams announced on Wednesday include Limp Bizkit drummer John Otto and his daughter, Ava.

“Come Dance With Me” is from creators and executive producers Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J and 3 Ball Productions, which is part of 3BMG, in association with CBS Studios. Executive producers for 3 Ball are Reinout Oerlemans, Ross Weintraub and Jeff Altrock. Jeff Thacker, Nick Florez and RJ Durell also are executive producers.