On Sept. 24, the fifth season of ABC’s hugely popular “Dancing with the Stars” waltzes back to the primetime lineup with the first of three week-one episodes.
The first night features all the female dancers, the men strut their stuff on night two, and then it’s on to results show. But just who are those men and women soon to be parading around in far too much sparkling spandex?
Finally the months of casting speculation are over. On Wednesday’s “Good Morning America,” host Tom Bergeron, judge Carrie Ann Inaba and last year’s winner Apolo Anton Ohno spilled the much-anticipated dish. And it’s a diverse mix — from a 22-year-old to a 65-year-old, from showbiz legends to absolute D-listers.
The seasoned performers
They may not be dancers by trade, but performers who’ve spent most of their lives on the stage may have an advantage over other contestants. Think of them as the professional amateurs. They know how to work a room and move a live audience.
One of the most buzzed about picks of the season is Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton. With almost 50 years of on-stage experience, including 30,000 live shows, the age defiant “Danke Schoen” songster won’t fail to entertain. Frankly, the man doesn’t know how not to succeed.
Singer, actress, and part-time QVC doll huckster Marie Osmond should handle the stress of dance night like a pro. Heck, being the mother of eight and the only sister in a family of as many brothers should qualify her for handling any kind of stress. She did dance a little back in her “Donny & Marie” days, but it was just that useless ’70s sway and snap routine, so no plus there.
The ringersOnce again some of the contestants from the celebrity side have a little too much dance background for the novice ranks. In season two both Stacy Keibler and Drew Lachey brought prior soft-shoe skills to the show. And Mario Lopez was at ease of the dance floor long before season three. Look out for the new trained gang.
“Beverly Hills 90210” alumni Jennie Garth has formal dance training. How much she’s maintained, or if any of it applies to ballroom remains to be seen. Still, it wouldn’t be a shock to see some impressive moves from the actress in the early rounds.
From the Disney factory of young starlets, “Cheetah Girl” Sabrina Bryan lists dancing, along with acting and singing, right on her resume.
She wasn’t doing the foxtrot with the “Spice Girls”, but Mel B, a.k.a Scary Spice could bust a move with the best of them. Of course that was way before her recent pregnancy and frequent battles with ex Eddie Murphy. But she’s back in shape for the “Spice” reunion, so expect her to bring it on.
The wildcardsThe heart and soul of “Dancing with the Stars” lies in the question marks — the celeb acts no one can predict. Will they find their hidden hoofer or beg for the boot?
Actress Jane Seymour trained as a ballerina in her youth but a knee injury ended her dancing ambitions at the age of 16 (just saving her from the ringer crowd). “Dr. Quinn’s” fan following is enormous, so even if she takes an early tumble, she’ll stick around for a while.
Hélio Castroneves is the epitome of a wildcard. Known for his impressive work behind the wheel as a two-time Indy 500 champion, most fans couldn’t tell you if he can walk, much less samba.
Dot com billionaire, Dallas Mavericks owner and sort-of actor Mark Cuban likes to try his hand at everything, but it remains to be seen if he has the passion required to even make it through the grueling training process for “DWTS.”
Pro boxer “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is one to keep an eye on. Boxing requires a fair amount of graceful movement, and middleweight Mayweather, while well toned, doesn’t have to contend with massive muscle bulk.
“All My Children” heartthrob Cameron Mathison, who plays Ryan Lavery on the soap, has one thing going for him — the advantage of a built-in ABC fan base.
Who knows what supermodel Josie Maran is capable of on the dance floor? At least as a former “Sport Illustrated” swimsuit model, she’ll look great in those skin-tight costumes.
And finally, scaping the bottom of the D-list, there’s ex-surfer and Abercombie and Fitch model Albert Reed. As the least famous of the group, he’s the biggest mystery of all.
But what about the other big news that diehard “Dancing” fans have been clamoring for? In a huge oversight, the list of professional dancers wasn’t released, at least not in full. Luckily two fan favorites were mentioned in relation to their celebrity partners during the “GMA” broadcast. Joining Wayne Newton will be Cheryl Burke, the only dancer to win back-to-back seasons. And über-hunk Maks Chmerkovskiy is paired up with Mel B.
Ree Hines is a writer in Tampa, Fla.