‘Dancing with the Stars’ All-Stars cast revealed
By Lori Rackl TV Criticemail@example.com July 27, 2012 12:26PM
Bristol Palin and her partner Mark Ballas.
Updated: August 29, 2012 6:06AM
LOS ANGELES — ABC unveiled the “Dancing With the Stars” favorites who will get another go at the mirror ball trophy in the series’ first ever all-star edition.
Season 15’s cast of alumni includes:
Actress Kirstie Alley, a second-place finisher season 12; “Baywatch” babe Pamela Anderson (season 10); season five winner and Brazilian race car driver Helio Castroneves; actor and singer Joey Fatone, who finished second in season four; season eight winner and Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson; singer and actor Drew Lachey, season two champ; season eight runner-up, French-American actor Gilles Marini; Olympic gold medalist speed skater and season four victor Apolo Anton Ohno; soap star and season one winner Kelly Monaco; Bristol Palin, who came in third in season 11; another third place finisher, Melissa Rycroft from season eight; and football star Emmitt Smith, season three winner.
“The level of competition is going to be quite intense,” executive producer Conrad Green told a group of TV critics in Los Angeles, where the roster of returning stars was announced Friday.
“I think half of the people involved in this cast have never been eliminated from the show,” Green said. “Most of the people here have done most of the dances if not all of the dances before. We’re going to probably have to recalibrate the judges slightly otherwise we’ll be starting out with 9s and 10s right out of the box.”
In a twist of the non-dancing kind, fans are being roped into the casting process. Producers are leaving it up to them to decide who will be the 13th contestant. The choice is between TV personality Carson Kressley, the fifth dancer to get the boot in season 13; singer Sabrina Bryan from season five and Disney Channel star Kyle Massey of season 11. Fans can vote for their favorite at ABC.com/DancingwiththeStars through 2 p.m. Aug. 24.
Which professional dancers the stars will be paired with hasn’t been decided yet, but you can be sure some will be twirling around the dance floor with new partners. That announcement will be made on “Good Morning America” Aug. 13.
“It’s impossible for everybody to have the same partners, so we’re currently working that out,” Green said. “It will be a very intriguing mix.”
Seven of the 12 named stars were at the TV critics meeting to answer questions about the upcoming season, like have they been dancing since they left the show?
“I dance every day — I have a 5-year-old daughter,” Marini said. “Besides that, not really.”
What are they dreading most about going back on the show?
“Being in the bottom two or the risk of being eliminated is not fun,” said Lachey, who was last on the program six years ago. “They put that red light on you and you hear that heartbeat music. It’s really fun if you’re at home watching it...but that is nerve wracking, bleeding ulcer, all the way.”
Palin was asked how she’d feel about having a gay dance partner?
“I’m not homophobic and I’m so sick of people saying that,” Palin said. “Just because I’m for traditional marriage doesn’t really mean I’m scared or anything of anyone else. I don’t hate anybody. People are going to make up stuff about me no matter what. Whatever. I’m going to go dance and I’m going to have fun.”
Palin’s family seems to be giving the Kardashians a run for their money when it comes to reality TV. Bristol debuted her own show, “Bristol Palin: Life’s a Tripp” on Lifetime this summer, while her dad, Todd, will be on NBC’s upcoming military-themed competition show “Stars Earn Stripes.”
When asked about her penchant for the TV spotlight, a defensive Palin said, “The press is going to talk about me no matter what, so I might as be having fun.
“God provides opportunities like this for me,” she said, and she takes them because “I like to provide for my son.”
At a time when other TV talent shows are in a constant state of flux at the judges’ table, “Dancing With the Stars” is taking the if-it’s-not-broke-don’t-fix-it approach to the network’s most popular show. The familiar faces of judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba will be back as the arbiters of footwork, lifts and holds, while Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet return as hosts.
Contestants and their professional dance partners will once again square off each week performing choreographed routines in the live ballroom competition. The couple netting the lowest combined judges’ scores and viewer votes will be sent packing, live, on the following night’s results show.
One new tweak to the show this season: Fans will be able to vote via Facebook at facebook.com/dancingwiththestars.
Viewers should brace for the election season to wreak some havoc on the program’s schedule, too. Green said things will get shuffled around a bit. Some weeks, no contestants will go home, while other weeks will have double eliminations.
Season 15 kicks off at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 on WLS-Channel 7.