ABC used its fall preview day before the Television Critics Association to announce the cast for the all-star 15th season of Dancing With the Stars – make that most of the cast.
Contrary to early rumors that the cast would be limited to those who had never won before, Season 15 will feature six former winners, including the champions of the first five seasons. Of the 12 announced cast members, only one did not make their season final the first time around. A 13th all-star will be chosen by public vote.
The first twelve are:
Kirstie Alley (Season 12, second place): The very definition of a fan favorite her first time out, and a great advertisement for how dancing can keep one in shape.
Pamela Anderson (Season 10, sixth place): Seems to be the obvious weak link in this field. Why is she here? (That phrase could actually apply to almost everything she’s done in her career while clothed.)
Helio Castroneves (Season 5, winner): Many considered him a surprise winner in his season; he will have his work cut out getting close to the end in this field.
Joey Fatone (Season 4, second place): There’s a whole generation that has never heard of ‘N Sync, and knows him mostly as a guy who does reality shows.
Shawn Johnson (Season 8, winner): The fringe benefit of the injury that ended her gymnastics career is that she’s back on DWTS. Can she overcome the odds again?
Drew Lachey (Season 2, winner): Many still cite his freestyle as the most famous DWTS performance ever. Has he been out of the spotlight too long to repeat?
Gilles Marini (Season 8, second place): Most consider him the best dancer who never won, and don’t be surprised if that status has changed by December.
Kelly Monaco (Season 1, winner): They might not have planned it that way, but her upset win in the first season helped make DWTS a media sensation.
Apolo Ohno (Season 4, winner): The diminutive skater helped to establish the Hough family dynasty on DWTS.
Bristol Palin (Season 11, third place): Dust off the gorilla costume! The “teen activist” is no longer a teen, and has become something of a professional reality star.
Melissa Rycroft (Season 8, third place): She went from winning The Bachelor to getting dumped to being a DWTS injury replacement to finishing third in the space of a few months.
Emmitt Smith (Season 3, winner): Considered a surprise champion by many, he’s also the only ex-football guy on this season, which automatically makes him one of the favorites this time.
One more spot in the finals will be reserved for the winner of a public vote. The three contenders are all part of the DWTS Vegas show: surprise Season 5 casualty Sabrina Bryan, Season 13 court jester Carson Kressley, and Season 11 teddy bear Kyle Massey. This would seem to be Kressley’s to lose, but you never know.
The question of potential partnerships was not answered Friday. There’s still plenty of time to work that out – this casting announcement is taking place much earlier than usual – but it looks like most of the all-stars are going to need new partners out of necessity. Three of the dancers were partnered with pros who are no longer with the show, and Pamela’s original partner, Damian Whitewood, was part of Season 10 but no other. Three of Cheryl Burke’s ex-partners are part of the coming season, as are two who were originally paired with Mark Ballas. Perhaps it would just be easier (and more fair) to simply assign everyone a new partner? We’ll have this info for you as it becomes available.
Season 15 premieres on September 24 on ABC.