Should “Dancing With the Stars” be renamed “Dancing With People You Might Have Heard Of?”
This season’s lineup includes the usual mix of television personalities, singers, athletes and has-beens, but the star wattage seems to have dimmed substantially.
“It’s pretty obvious that ABC is no longer able to get actual stars to show up," said Realityblurred.com’s Andy Dehnart, who's a regular contributor to msnbc.com. "Llike last season, this lineup is short on widely recognizable celebrities, and long on people who require explanation,” (Example 1-A: Gilles Marini, aka “the hot naked guy in the shower from the “Sex and the City” movie.)
But it isn’t just critics who feel like the show is in the midst of a relevancy recession. The show’s target audience is feeling the pinch, too.
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Even my mom, who’s usually a good barometer for buzz, was stymied by the lineup. When names like Steve-O and Marini were announced, she asked, “Who are these people, Courtney? Don’t real stars want to dance?”
Really, it might be just that simple.
“First, real stars are busy,” said one A-list actor who currently appears on a hit television series. “They don’t have the time to do something like ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ and, if you’re really a star, you do not need to be on a reality show.”
The reality show distinction is an important one. Regardless of the success of unscripted programming, there’s still a stigma attached.
“Despite the huge ratings success, (‘Dancing With the Stars’) is thought of as a reality TV show," said Robert Shuter, a publicist who's worked with Alicia Keys and Diddy. "Most celebrities don’t want to be in the ‘reality’ category and it’s very hard to book celebs to appear on an ongoing basis.”
Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings Other reality shows, such as “American Idol,” do get A-list stars, but they’re used only for guest appearances that don’t take a significant amount of time out of their calendar. But in different ways, both “Idol” and “Dancing” benefit from having lesser-known contestants.
“The unknown stars (on ‘Dancing’) have an appeal not unlike that of the unknown amateurs on ‘American Idol,’” Dehnart said. “Part of the fun of the show is finding out who the unexpectedly entertaining cast members are. Who can dance? Who's funny? Who's taking it seriously, and who's not?”
This appeal is precisely why the show will live on between episodes in the pages of the celebrity weeklies, despite the dearth of A-list (or even B-list) celebrities.
“It’s a huge show with our readers and it’s one of the biggest shows in the country, largely because the stars provide something for everyone,” said Dan Wakeford, the editor-in-chief of Life & Style. “The reason that it’s a success on TV and in Life & Style is that it isn’t based on the size of the stars, but the journey they go through on screen,” said Wakeford. “Fans love everything about it — the dancing, the drama, the sprained ankles, and, of course, the sequins.”
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In New York, Sean Kingston and Wyclef Jean hit the recording studio on March 4 to record “Ice Cream Girl,” a track that will be part of Kingston's sophomore album, "Tomorrow," due out in August. ... In Los Angeles, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” star Leven Rambin was spotted shopping for NP Set cosmetics at the Napoleon Perdis store on Hollywood Boulevard on March 2. Kevin James had lunch with family at BOA Steakhouse at the Caesars Palace Forum Shops on March 7. Later that night in Miami, Dita Von Teese sipped a Cointreau Original Margarita just before performing her show at LIV nightclub. Also March 7: Paulina Porizkova chatted up the locals at her husband Ric Ocasek’s art show, “Noise Colored Party,” at the Mahan Gallery in Columbus, Ohio.
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Courtney Hazlett delivers the Scoop Monday through Friday on msnbc.com. Follow Scoop on Twitter: @ courtneyatmsnbc.
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