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Ballroom shakeup



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Updated: September 2, 2013 8:42PM

The rumor mill is in overdrive as the cast of next season’s “Dancing with the Stars” is set to be revealed Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”

Yogurt shill John Stamos and self-professed meatball Snooki are a few of the names being bandied about. “Glee” star Amber Riley, Jack Osbourne, Valerie Harper and Leah Remini are reportedly ready to rumba. Hearsay has it that former “Teen Mom” Farrah Abraham was asked to be on the show, along with “tan mom” Patricia Krentcil.

Whom would host Tom Bergeron like to see waltz their way into the competition this season?

“That retired pope would be great,” Bergeron said about ex-pontiff Benedict XVI. “That hasn’t happened in 600 years.”

A dozen celebrities — and I use that word loosely — will brave the ballroom dance floor for the first time when the show returns on ABC Sept. 16. They’re competing for the mirrorball trophy but for many, the real carrot on the end of the stick is the publicity that comes with being on one of television’s most-watched series.

While ratings have been trending down, Monday night’s performance show still averaged nearly 14 million viewers last season. But the program doesn’t fare nearly as well in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year old demographic. “Dancing” viewers rank among the oldest with a median age of 61.

“It’s been a very good vehicle for a lot of people,” Bergeron said about the show’s ability to raise contestants’ profiles. “You’ve seen careers have resurgence or, in the case of younger stars, they get opportunities that broaden their reach.”

There had been rumblings that celebrity chef Paula Deen, in desperate need of an image makeover after the N-word fiasco, would put on her dancing shoes in hopes of showing viewers her true personality.

“Unfortunately, I think she showed her personality,” Bergeron said. “We’ve already seen it. All we’d be seeing now is her rhythm.” (Looks like we won’t be seeing that: US Weekly reported that Deen turned down an offer to be on the show.)

“Dancing” has some new moves this season. The program has been condensed (phew, finally), combining the traditional Monday performance and Tuesday elimination shows into a single, two-hour-long live broadcast from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays.

As far as fan votes go, “it’ll be like season one,” Bergeron said. “The viewer votes from the previous week will be carried over [and combined] with the judges’ scores from that night. At the end of the show, a couple will go.”

Co-host Brooke Burke Charvet said distilling the show down to one night gives “Dancing” legs.

“It gives us longevity,” she said. “When you get performance, elimination and musical acts, it’s a big, big night. It’s going to be really exciting.”


Twitter: @lorirackl

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