Nancy Grace on 'DWTS': 'Thought I Was Being Punk'd'

Nancy Grace responds to Chaz Bono debate, just "waiting to see how he dances"

Sept. 1, 2011 -- Nonstop coverage of the Casey Anthony trial was not the only thing keeping Nancy Grace busy this summer.

"I was en route to the courtroom, in the car, and at first I thought I was getting punk'd," Grace said today on "Good Morning America" of the moment she got the call from producers asking her to join Season 13 of hit reality competition "Dancing With the Stars."

"I thought someone had gotten my cell phone number and was kidding me about doing 'Dancing With the Stars' while I was on my way to the tot mom Casey Anthony trial," she said.

The HLN host spent the summer in the spotlight in a fury covering the months-long trial of Anthony, who was found not guilty in July of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee.

Check out the full cast of the new season of "Dancing with the Stars."

Known for her tough talk and strong opinions, including saying "somewhere tonight, the devil is dancing" after the Anthony verdict was delivered, Grace, 51, has become one of the more controversial celebrities to join the show's cast.

Media critics, colleagues, and even fans, have questioned whether she can maintain her credibility while doing the cha-cha and tango before millions of TV viewers.

"The bottom line is all my money is going to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children," Grace said on "GMA" in response to the criticism. "I'm putting my money where my mouth is."

In addition to Grace, the star-studded celebrity line-up for the show's 13th season includes actor David Arquette, Chaz Bono, the son of famed entertainers Sonny and Cher, fashion guru Carson Kressley, NBA champ Ron Artest, model Elisabetta Canalis, reality-TV stars Kristin Cavallari and Rob Kardashian, talk show icon Ricki Lake, war veteran and actor J.R. Martinez, entertainer Chynna Phillips, World Cup soccer star Hope Solo.

Grace is not one to shy away from controversy, but the show's other biggest headline, partnering Chaz Bono, who recently underwent a very public gender change from a female to a male, with a female professional partner, Lacey Schwimmer, is one hot topic she is staying away from.

"I'm not getting involved. Unless it's got crime tape around it, I don't care," she said today. "I just don't think it's our business to be judging other people for their personal decisions. Unless Chaz commits a felony, I don't have a problem."

"I met Chaz, he's an absolutely lovely person and I'm just waiting to see how he dances," she added.

Watch the two-hour season premiere, Monday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET and visit for more information on "Dancing With the Stars" Season 13.

Grace Will 'Respect' What Judges Say

Grace appeared on "GMA" today with her just-announced professional partner, Tristan MacManus, who will be making his DWTS debut this season.

"I was part of the 'Dancing With the Stars' troupe last season so I'm kind of getting used to it," he said on "GMA," downplaying any case of rookie nerves.

"Nancy certainly put me at ease from the first time around, so I think we're going to be alright," he said.

See the full list of celebrity and pro pairings.

Despite the ease in their relationship, Grace described on "GMA" the difficulties she's already encountering trying to keep pace with MacManus, whom she described as a "robot."

"I'm used to doing battle in court and my feet have never really been an issue," Grace said. "Let me tell you, yesterday I had to bandage up my feet. "

Grace is the mother of 3-year-old twins, Lucy and John David, whom she conceived through fertility treatments and delivered three months premature in an emergency, life-threatening c-section.

Grace is healthy now, but will have to balance the show's notoriously difficult practice schedule with her role as a mother and her day job on TV.

All 12 celebrities have begun training with their professional partners, learning either the cha cha or the Viennese Waltz for the show's two-hour season premiere, Monday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. ET.

"They're long and they're arduous," Grace said of the rehearsals she and MacManus have begun in Atlanta, where Grace lives and shoots her nightly HLN show. "I'm just trying to keep up."

The couple with the lowest combined judges' scores and public votes for their performance will be sent home in the season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars: The Results Show," Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. ET.

Like Kirstie Alley and Kate Gosselin before her, Grace may not be the most obvious contender for the coveted mirror ball trophy. But if she performs anything like she does in her natural habitat, Dan Abrams, ABC News legal analyst and Grace's frequent on-air sparring partner, thinks she'll do OK.

"Nancy has already become a skilled verbal dancer," he said in an email to "If her style remains consistent, I wish her partner the best of luck, and pity those who have to judge her!"

Grace, however, believes she will be able to bite her tongue when it comes to the often-stinging comments delivered by the show's three-judge panel.

"If the judges don't like my dance I'll probably respect what they say," she said on "GMA."

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ABC News' Sheila Marikar contributed to this report.