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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Dancing With The Stars" Cast Features Usual Blend of Oddballs

“Dancing With The Stars” has slots to fill. Every season, they try to make it seem like they’re choosing “stars” based on their immediate relevance and for variety, but every season, you’re reminded that they have a limited number of types who are cast, and the new season, announced during Monday night's finale of "The Bachelor," is no different.

The most controversial name is Kate Gosselin. She's there to be the polarizing one. Like Tom DeLay, Denise Richards, and Kim Kardashian before her, Kate is there strictly because some people will recoil at the sight of her. Her dancing ability is a closed book for the moment, and notoriety is unlikely to get her to the final stages of the competition, but her name recognition should keep her safe in the opening rounds.

The "Dancing" raid of the “Beverly Hills, 90210” dressing rooms of the past continues with the appearance of Shannen Doherty. Doherty must surely be the Moby-Dick for producers who have spent previous seasons settling for her onetime co-stars Ian Ziering and Jennie Garth. Her reputation as a buster of chops precedes her, much as distant rumbling precedes an invasion by Godzilla, so many will tune in to see whether she can be made to tango properly or will simply bite off the head of her partner. (She will also undoubtedly hope to outlast her long-ago ex-husband Ashley Hamilton, who lasted three days on the show last season.)

Filling the obligatory NFL spot is Chad Ochocinco — if you’re not familiar with him, he legally changed his name from Johnson to “Ochocinco” because his jersey number with the Cincinnati Bengals is 85. Which really translates as "Ochenta y cinco," not "Ochocinco," but whatever. “Dancing” essentially has a big football player every season, because it nearly always works — from Emmitt Smith to Jason Taylor to Warren Sapp to Michael Irvin, the NFL guys have been among the most popular contestants year in and year out. Ochocinco actually represents a stepping up of the casting game in this regard, because he's a current player with a big personality, while most of the past players (aside from Taylor) have been retired.

'Dancing' cast features usual blend of oddballs

There's always a sex symbol of the past who's there to comment on how moms can still look beautiful, and believe it or not, it's good old Pamela Anderson. “Home Improvement,” “Baywatch,” that sex tape — she has done a remarkable job remaining in the public eye for someone with so few actual accomplishments. Believe it or not, at 42, Anderson actually does qualify for that “older former model” slot they’ve sometimes filled in the past with women like Rachel Hunter and Paulina Porizkova — both of whom were younger on the show than Anderson is now.

His gold medal's still glinting

The run on Olympians — like "Dancing" winners Kristi Yamaguchi and Anton Ohno, among others— continues too, with gold-medal figure skater Evan Lysacek joining the group fresh off his win at the Vancouver Games. Expect Lysacek to do very well. There are few ways to bring in anyone as fundamentally overqualified for this show as a gold-medal figure skater — at least Yamaguchi was a few years removed from her medal run. It’s hard to imagine Lysacek not excelling in the technical aspects and making it all the way to the finals, but whether he has the likability it generally takes to actually win the competition will be a different question.


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