‘Dancing with the Stars’ 2012: Introducing the season 14 cast

February 28, 2012

The newest cast of “DWTS” — now in its 14th iteration — was announced on Tuesday, with only a few surprises and little controversy. Emily Yahr reported on the announcement:

The official cast announcement was turned into quite the spectacle, as hundreds of screaming people lined the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, waving signs and generally causing a frenzy as Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke Charvet announced the new cast and their pro dance partners for Season 14:

1) Jack Wagner, soap actor from “Bold and the Beautiful,” General Hospital” and “Melrose Place” — with Anna Trebunskaya

2) Melissa Gilbert, played Laura Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie” — with Maskim Chmerkovskiy (solving the “will Maks be back?! mystery)

3) Donald Driver, receiver for the Green Bay Packers — with Peta Murgatroyd

4) William Levy, telenova star apparently known as the “Brad Pitt of Mexico” — with Cheryl Burke

5) Sherri Shepherd, co-host of “The View” — with Val Chmerkovskiy

6) Katherine Jenkins, opera star — with Mark Ballas

7) Gavin DeGraw, pop singer known for penning the “One Tree Hill” theme song — with Karina Smirnoff

8) Martina Navratilova, tennis pro — with Tony Dovolani

9) Roshon Fegan, star of Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up” and hip hop producer — with Chelsie Hightower

10) Maria Menounos, co-host of “Extra” — with Derek Hough

11) Jaleel White, best known as Steve Urkel in “Family Matters” — with Kym Johnson

12) Gladys Knight, singer, or “empress of soul” — with Tristan MacManus

Some of these choices matched Yahr’s predictions: She knew that Shepherd, Menounous, Gilbert and Wagner would be likely candidates. Of Shepherd and Gilbert, respectively, she wrote:

Sherri Shepherd. This makes sense, given that Shepherd is already in the Disney family as a co-host of “The View.” Plus, that would almost guarantee that “DWTS” would become a frequent “hot topic” on the daytime talk show.

Melissa Gilbert. Perhaps taking the “Oh right, whatever happened to [fill in the blank actor/actress]?” spot, Gilbert’s most famous for starring in the 1970s series “Little House on the Prairie.”

There were a few notable absences from this season: For instance, there are no politicians or reality stars. There was speculation earlier in the year that former presidential candidates Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain might join, but both declined.

“He can’t dance in an eight count. He can only dance in a nine-count,” an aide for former pizza company big cheese Cain told a disappointed Atlanta Journal-Constitution – a ham-handed reference to Cain’s oft-derided 9-9-9 tax plan, reported Lisa de Moraes.

One day later, Bachmann declined as well. “In full disclosure, I did win a polka-dancing competition when I was in the 10th grade at my alma mater, Anoka High School in Anoka, Minnesota,” Bachmann, R-Minn., said in a statement to ABC News – ABC being home of “Dancing with the Stars.” “But, despite my 10th-grade polka success and my lifelong love of ballroom dancing, the recent rumors are false. I will not be joining ‘Dancing with the Stars’,” she concluded.

The only source of controversy was the potential return of pro dancer Maksim Chermkovskiy, who made news last season for his attitude, and for calling the reality show “his show.” Yahr reports that his return announcement lacked any of that bluster.

He proclaims his partner, Melissa Gilbert, “alright,” but was obviously told to keep his comments short. “I love the new cast,” he said sweetly. “I’m looking forward to see everybody dance.”

Take our poll: Who do you think will win “Dancing with the Stars” this season?

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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