If you’ve been watching any network other than ABC, you might have missed out on the news that Dancing with the Stars is back for its 10th season. What’s that, you say? You didn’t really have time to miss it since the previous season just ended a few weeks ago? Yeah, I feel you. But get used to it as Lost ends, Desperate Housewives wears thin and Grey’s Anatomy hums along on life support.
The big news is that Samantha Harris is leaving. And there was much rejoicing! Sure, she looked pretty in designer gowns but had all the interviewing ability of Ryan Seacrest on the Red Carpet. Which is to say, zero. Her replacement is TV personality and former DWTS champion, Brooke Burke, who’s likable enough and at least has some insight into what the contestants are going through in their weekly rehearsals. And unlike some other reality shows out there, the judging panel will be the same as it ever was, with the sassy Carrie Ann, stuffy Len, and the vivaciously verbose Bruno.
Eleven couples will take to the dance floor on March 22 to compete for the mirrorball trophy and a chance to put off pop culture obscurity just that little bit longer. Let’s handicap them, shall we?
Star: Buzz Aldrin
Claim to Fame: Retired astronaut who walked on the moon
Pro Partner: Ashly DelGrosso-Costa
Odds: Aldrin is this season’s token old guy who’s on everyone’s injury watch list. I’d love for him to stick around and teach these young whippersnappers how to do a real Lindy hop in Earth’s gravity but if he don’t got rhythm, look for him to be eliminated before we get to the Latin rounds. 2 weeks.
Star: Pamela Anderson
Claim to Fame: Having boobs; “Baywatch,” “Barb Wire”
Pro Partner: Damian Whitewood
Odds: Unless it involves a pole, I just don’t see Pamela as being a dancer. She may have the strength and flexibility, but not the grace and persona of a performer. 3 weeks.
Star: Erin Andrews
Claim to Fame: ESPN sportscaster; crusader against peeping toms
Pro Partner: Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Odds: Andrews is a wild card. Physically, she looks perfectly capable of keeping up with Maksim’s difficult choreography and dealing with the pressure of competition. But we won’t know till she hits the floor. 7 weeks.
Star: Shannen Doherty
Claim to Fame: Actress; bitch of biblical proportions
Pro Partner: Mark Ballas
Odds: Mark is kind of a goofball, and I don’t foresee Doherty having the patience for that. The competitive spirit will keep her in the game but not long enough. 5 weeks.
Star: Kate Gosselin
Claim to Fame: Gave birth to a litter of children, then put them in front of TLC cameras
Pro Partner: Tony Dovolani
Odds: I get the feeling that the newly single Mama Gosselin does not like to lose, or to let anyone else lead – which is a bit of an impairment in couples dancing. Tony better be prepared to be more hen-pecked than a food trough in a chicken hutch. 4 weeks.
Star: Evan Lysacek
Claim to Fame: Gold medal-winning Olympic figure skater
Pro Partner: Anna Trebunskaya
Odds: Olympians usually walk away with the trophy (see Apolo Ohno, Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Ryan) so expectations for Evan are high. And no doubt he’ll rise to meet them. Plus, sequins! Finals.
Star: Niecy Nash
Claim to Fame: "Reno 911!," Clean House," and wearing flowers in her hair
Pro Partner: Louis van Amstel
Odds: Niecy is gorgeous, funny, fashionable and has personality to spare. But she is a big girl and may face the same challenges Hairspray’s Marissa Jaret Winokur did when it comes time for the crowd-pleasing lifts. 6 weeks.
Star: Chad Ochocinco
Claim to Fame: Wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals; attention whore
Pro Partner: Cheryl Burke
Odds: Frequent champion Cheryl Burke knows how to turn gridiron gangstas into dancin’ machines (just ask Emmitt Smith), and Chad Johnson, er, Ochocinco isn’t afraid to look fabulous. Semifinals.
Star: Jake Pavelka
Claim to Fame: Being a bachelor/pilot
Pro Partner: Chelsie Hightower
Odds: The latest bachelor may be just talented and attractive enough to slide under the radar for a while, until he goes home to his fiancée Vienna. 8 weeks.
Star: Nicole Scherzinger
Claim to Fame: Pussycat Doll
Pro Partner: Derek Hough
Odds: Hmm, the last name rhymes with “ringer.” She’s already been a professional dancer and singer with the burlesque troupe for years. Unless she has an adverse reaction to having to wear more clothes than she usually does onstage, Nicole’s a lock for the long haul. Finals.
Star: Aiden Turner
Claim to Fame: “All My Children” actor and model
Pro Partner: Edyta Sliwinska
Odds: The token ABC soap actor on the roster who could follow in the steps of Cameron Mackintosh and Kelly Monaco. Or not. I really don’t know anything about the guy, but I said the same thing about Gilles Marini and look how he rocked it. 9 weeks.
So tune in to see who waltzes their way to a win on this season’s Dancing With the Stars. And place your bets on which Lost cast member will sign on to samba in season 11. My money's on Nestor Carbonell; the guyliner gives him an advantage.