Just one day after it was announced that American Idol would bring on Harry Connick Jr. (and bring back Jennifer Lopez) as a judge, Dancing with the Stars one-upped them with the reveal of what is, quite possibly, their best cast yet.
On Good Morning America on Wednesday, the new cast made their debut, and they include the likes of Bill Nye the Science Guy (awesome), Valerie Harper (way awesome), and Elizabeth Berkeley (if she does anything from Showgirls, you have found your winner). The rest of this year's stars include Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi (Jersey Shore), Leah Remini (The King of Queens), Amber Riley (Glee), Jack Osbourne (The Osbournes), Corbin Bleu (High School Musical), Bill Engvall (The Bill Engvall Show ), Keyshawn Johnson (athlete), Christina Milian (better known as the gal who reads things off Twitter on The Voice), and Brant Daugherty (Noel freakin' Kahn from Pretty Little Liars).
Now, the reason I brought up Idol is that it used to be a show about finding talent, rather than having already-established stars rediscover their fame. DWTS, on the other hand, has always been about bringing out a talent in the "stars." Idol may now be a show about judges (snooze) but DWTS was always about the celebs from the get-go (wise).
Granted, Dancing with the Stars has always used to the term "stars" pretty loosely. It's also been pretty lenient with the whole "giving attention to headline-grabbing celebrities, whose only discernible talent is staying in the spotlight and being a barnacle on the ship that is society" thing. Case in point: former seasons have included the likes of Kate Gosselin, Nancy Grace, Bristol Palin, Tom DeLay and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino.
That's not to say that Season 17 is somehow breaking the mold with its picks. This year, the show has another Osbourne on the show, this time Jack instead of Kelly; yet another NFL star (Johnson); and are extending yet another Jersey Shore star's 15 minutes of fame with the inclusion of Snooki.
While Season 13 had a pretty solid, unexpected line-up that included Chaz Bono, David Arquette, J.R. Martinez, and Carson Kressley, and Season 11 more or less became (Dirty) Dancing with the Stars thanks to winner Jennifer Grey, here's a rundown of why Season 17 could give all the other seasons a run for their money:
Bill Nye the Science Guy: Are you kidding? This might be ABC's greatest casting decision on this show to date. With the exception of maybe Glenn Beck, who doesn't like Bill Nye? The generation of kids that grew up with Nye still think he's awfully cool, and as evident by that Buzzfeed list (and Buzzfeed in general), '90s nostalgia is a pretty powerful thing. Nye could actually get the rare hipster demographic to tune in this season. Plus, not only will we be entertained, but you know he's going to teach us all about the science of fancy footwork.
Valerie Harper: This is an actual television legend taking part and for everyone that saw themselves as more of a Rhoda than a Mary, you won't be able to help but root for her, especially in light of her much-publicized health issues.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren: We're so excited…we're so…we're so scared to see how she does. And, man, you wanna talk about the nostalgia factor: the same kids that loved Bill Nye in that 90s also had some serious devotion to Saved by the Bell.
Leah Remini: Never mind that this news will make Billy Eichner flip a gasket, which makes her inclusion worthy in and of itself, but the shocking recent turn of events with Remini reportedly leaving the Church of Scientology will make for damn good television. Will she say anything about the controversy on the air? If you weren't a fan of the King of Queens and The Talk star before, this could change minds. Plus: she was on Saved By the Bell, too, so… mini-reunion!
Amber Riley: Amber Riley has kind of gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to halfway decent Glee story lines, so this could be her time to shine. That said, her presence could throw a major wrench in anyone else winning: those Glee fans are an intense, devoted bunch. Plus, Riley could win sympathy for the loss of her friend/co-star Cory Monteith. (Cynic alert: Jack Osbourne could also win sympathy votes due to his health struggles, though let's face it, Valerie will likely benefit the most from that sort of support).
If you're a betting wo/man, you should probably put your money on Johnson (athletes tend to dominate in this competition), but even if you're just a casual viewer, this should prove to be one of the more tolerable (well, we hope) group of cast members on DWTS. Of course, that's just opinion…not science. That's what Bill is here for.
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