Hasselhoff. Brandy. Palin. Warner. Cho. Bolton. Grey. Fox. Sorrentino. Henderson. Patridge. Massey. They range in age from 19 to 76, some sing, some act, two are genuine athletes, a few of them are likely to take over were Kate Gosselin left off. They are of course the new cast of Dancing With The Stars which begins its 11th season on September the 20th. Are they stars? You tell us. Would you pay cash money to see them dance? I predict this will be 50% celebrity ballroom dancing competition, 50% watching & waiting to see if those not traditionally regarded as “stars” can rise to the occasion with grace, moxie and/ or athletic skill. By the same token, the picks this year seem so very outlandish that we may see the reverse effect – i.e., those participants who are actually regarded as stars (in someone’s universe anyway) may begin to behave uncharacteristically – even poorly. Oh wait, then they’re just stars again. Never mind. Anyway, it would appear from this list that they are definitely using a template that’s worked in the past – only they seem to be running out of middle-of-the-road-talent. One of the casting directors was quoted as saying that she didn’t want viewers to have to Google any of this year’s contestants. Well, with the exception of a Super Bowl victory, you probably don’t have to check any recent awards databases either. Casting DWTS must be like preparing a very, very tricky meal. Because you know it has to be memorable, but it also has to be memorable for good and bad reasons. First you need to balance the level of has-been with just the right level of about-to-be, then you need to pepper it with a jerk or two who can be counted on to mouth off or be a poor sport. You need something spicy to give it zest (and/or humor: in this case Cho – last time it was Niecy) until you get tired of that zest (and you will, after a few weeks) which is when you turn to the good-looking and nicely-assembled garnishes on the side who haven’t been getting tons of attention but who, you know, will be sort of soothing with their talent (these are the jocks). Then you have the young delicacies (Brandy, Patridge, Massey) so that when the meal isn’t tasting stupendous, you can still feast your eyes on something tantalizing at another part of the table (plus, these girls may actually be able to dance – and well — as Nicole Scherzinger demonstrated so ably last year). They’ve actually done a pretty good job with the curiosity factor this year, because for everyone who’s never seen Jersey Shore (and this includes me) it’s is an opportunity to see just what verbal or abdominal havoc The Situation will wreak. Similarly, Bristol Palin may not be a star but her mother certainly is. Because whether you like Sarah Palin or not, remember that a) millions of people do b) millions of people don’t, and c) millions of people just plain don’t like how her kid was treated by that idiot boyfriend, so those three facts alone will guarantee another zillion viewers. You know what? When I began to write this blog I thought it was not a very interesting crop of talent. Looking now at this gang I actually think this will be a hilarious – and really fun season. Maybe they’ll all earn their stars, after all.
1) Anna Paquin
2) Gugu Mbatha-Raw
3) Heidi Klum
4) Mariska Hargitay
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