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Is new ‘Dancing’ cast dream come true or dud?

This cast is right out of the ballroom book, but what about the other usual suspects? Where’s the obvious shoo-in for the win? The polarizing public figure? The train wreck?
/ Source: TODAY contributor

The upcoming coming season of “Dancing With the Stars” is just weeks away and thanks to Monday’s night’s big reveal, the next batch of D- through Z-listers to battle it out in the ballroom are no longer a mystery. Sugar Ray Leonard, Petra Nemcova and Kirstie Alley will compete. Ralph Macchio, Chris Jericho and Wendy Williams are on the list. And Chelsea Kane, Kendra Wilkinson, Hines Ward, Mike Catherwood and Romeo — zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz ...

Huh? Hey, wait a minute! There’s something missing.

Actor’s past their career prime? Check and check. Athletes? Two more checks. Reality TV star? Yep. Disney Channel star? Oh, yeah. Seemingly random assortment of entertainment types with varying degrees of name recognition? They’re there.

This cast is right out of the ballroom book, but what about the other usual suspects? Where’s the obvious shoo-in for the win? The polarizing public figure? The train wreck? You know, those picks that annoy “Dancing” fans in the early weeks, all the while acting as ratings gold and ensuring plenty of must-see TV moments.

This time around there’s no Kristi Yamaguchi or Jennifer Grey poised to grab the mirror ball trophy from the get-go. There’s no Bristol Palin earning a little too much support from one side of the aisle and a little too much distain from the other. And there’s certainly no Kate Gosselin or Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino ready to embarrass themselves.

For some “Dancing” purists that might sound like the recipe for the best season in years — an end to the distractions and unfair advantages, a back-to-basics ballroom. For other “Dancing” enthusiasts, it’s bound to be boring. Either way, the die is cast and viewers simply have to make the most of it of the good or bad situation.

No Christine O’Donnell? No problem. No “Teen Mom” star, Lindsay Lohan or heck, even Michael Lohan? We’ll make do with what we have.

The stand-in ringers
OK, there may not be a classically trained ballroom baby in the bunch, but a few of the upcoming dance floor hopefuls know a thing or two about moving to the music.

The closest thing the 12th season of “Dancing With the Stars” will see to a ringer is likely to be Chelsea Kane. As for her advantage, it just comes from being a Disney Channel star. If Sabrina Bryan and Kyle Massey have taught dancing fans anything, it’s that Disney Channel alums shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to fancy footwork.

Then again, the one to watch might be “Karate Kid” star Ralph Macchio. While it remains to be seen if the perpetually baby-faced actor can get his waltz on (or waltz off — sorry!), his childhood study of tap dance won’t hurt his chances. There’s no telling how far the old soft-shoe can take him.

Former “Cheers” star and ex-Jenny Craig spokesperson Kirstie Alley could have the modest leg up in the not-quite-ringers roundup. In January, the actress revealed her new-found love of popular dance fitness program Zumba. The leap between Zumba and the samba is an awfully big one, though.

On the tracks
Lacking an obvious train wreck, it looks like “Dancing” fans might have to settle for a former one to fit the bill. That would be “Girl Next Door”-turned-sex-tape-star Kendra Wilkinson. Sure, an introduction like that sounds promising, but given Wilkinson’s more recent roles as a relatively reserved wife, mom and reality TV star, don’t expect too many jaw-droppers from Hugh Hefner’s ex.

So where’s a spectacle-loving viewer to turn? Kirstie Alley!

Should Alley fail to turn into the next sort-of-ringer, she could always pose as the almost-train wreck in a pinch. The star’s no stranger to gaining attention for the occasional bout of bad behavior, and she’s indulged in more than one celebrity feud in the last year — see her grudge fest with Conan O’Brien and her low-blow Twitter war with Joy Behar for proof.

Can’t look away
One doesn’t have to misbehave to get attention. Some celebs simply have the big personalities necessary to make fans look their way. It doesn’t matter if the crowd loves them or hates them, as long as they pay attention.

WWE champ and part-time heavy metal singer Chris Jericho will have the chance to see if he can divide the “Dancing” audience as effectively as has wrestling audiences in the past. If not, the self-declared “Queen of All Media” Wendy Williams is destined to make a big impression by stepping on a few toes on and off the dance floor.

But giving both of Jericho and Williams a run for their “Dancing” dollar is the artist-formerly-known-as-Lil’-Romeo. After all, the rapper-actor-basketball player has a “Dancing” dynasty to live up to. Or down to. His father is none other than Master P, otherwise known as the worst wannabe dancer to ever appear on the show.

As for the other hoofers-to-be, Sugar Ray Leonard, Petra Nemcova, Hines Ward and Mike Catherwood, they’ll have stand-in for the usual assortment of the wild cards. There could be secret dance floor star among them, but there’s just as likely a well disguised train wreck waiting to derail in the mix. Viewers won’t find out until show time.

The spotlight shines on the latest batch of ballroom babies March 21 on ABC.

Ree Hines can’t wait for the ballroom bash to begin. Follow on Twitter and share your take on the new “Dancing” cast.