SAN DIEGO, September 15, 2013 – Unliked past editions of “Dancing With the Stars” loaded with Olympic gold medalists, singers and actors and actresses who dance, season 17 has an eclectic array of contestents with no obvious favorite. It’s the best possible news in a season when the show would like to reboot and revitalize its ratings. It’s a good start. Nothing beats the fun of guessing who will surpass expectations, and who will be a hot mess on the dance floor.
It’s the element of surprise that has made “Dancing With The Stars” one of the the highest rated shows on TV. It has launched and re-launched careers: Kelly Osborne, Kirstie Alley, and Rikki Lake credit the show for their current success. Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is still introduced as “Dancing With The Stars” champion before his racing is mentioned. Country singer Kellie Pickler, Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins, and former Bachelorette Melissa Rycroft all found new fans thanks to the show. Andy Dick gained something even more important, his sobriety.
Communities has a great track record predicting the winners. We go the top four dead right last year, and called the winner the season prior. If you’re a betting man or woman, keep our list handy.
We fearlessly make our predictions in our traditional three categories: The Also-Rans, The Jury Is Out, The Contenders.
The Season 17 competitors are Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sacha Farber; Keyshawn Johnson and Sharna Burgess; Valerie Harper and Tristan McManus; Brant Dougherty and Peta Murgatroyd; Christina Milian and Mark Ballas; Bill Nye and Tyne Stecklein; Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy; Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff; Amber Riley and Derek Hough; Bill Engvall and Emma Slater; Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke; and Leah Remini and Tony Dovoloni.
The DWTS Also-Rans: Bill Engvall, Bill Nye, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper, 74, is the headline grabber on the cast. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer six months ago and given three months to live, she’s already beaten the odds. Her cancer currently seems to be in remission. She will be a sentimental favorite, but simply getting onto the dance floor will be a huge victory in life for Harper. She will get a lot of emotional votes, but I cannot imagine her lasting beyond a few weeks. She will dance with Tristan McManus.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, 25, of “Jersey Shore” fame is in phenomenal shape. She claims she did years of gymnastics and cheerleading before becoming famous for being loopy. Can Polizzi focus on what needs to be done? She doesn’t appear too coachable, and this could be a big problem. Polizzi is dancing with a longtime member of the pro troupe getting his first partner assignment, Sacha Farber, which is a disadvantage simply due to his inexperience in finding ways to motivate your celebrity partner.
Bill Engvall, 56, follow a line lineup of comedians, none of whom have done all that well. Think DL Hughley. He is also one of the older competitors. Engvall also dances with a first time pro being promoted from the troupe, Emma Slater.
Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” 57, is one of several legitimate geeks to grace the show. It’s likely he’ll dance a lot more like Steve Wozniak than Jaleel White. White only played a nerd, after all. He also draws a first time pro who’s truly brand new to the show, Tyne Stecklein. She’s danced in numerous films and was scheduled to perform with Michael Jackson on his “This Is It” tour until his death.
The DWTS Jury Is Out: Jack Osbourne, Leah Remini, Brant Dougherty, and Corbin Bleu
Jack Osbourne, 27: His sister Kelly danced herself into a completely new physique and image on the show. Can her brother and son of infamous rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his popular talk/reality host wife Sharon do the same? Osbourne benefits from being partnered with popular pro partner Cheryl Burke who is a two-time winner. If they end up with good chemistry, he could be a surprise.
Leah Remini, 43, could be a pleasant surprise. She appears to be in good physical shape and she drew a partner who knows how to win, Tony Dovoloni. She appeals to the women over 40 in the audience who imagine themselves on the show and see Remini as themselves. If her personality shows through, it could keep her around longer even if her dance skills don’t.
Brant Daugherty, 28, and, Corbin Bleu, 24, are both series actors who should appeal to the ladies. But as we learned from seeing Ingo Rademacher and Sean Lowe last year, good looks don’t always translate to good dancing. Partner chemistry could tip the scales. Daugherty dances with Peta Murgatroyd, who is sizzling when she connects with a partner (Donald Driver) and fizzles when she doesn’t (Lowe). Bleu draws previous winner Karina Smirnoff. The same sizzle/fizzle applies, but their rehearsal photos show some promise.
The DWTS Contenders: Keyshawn Johnson, Christina Millian, Elizabeth Berkley, and Amber Riley
Keyshawn Johnson, 41, former NFL wide receiver, follows three NFL players who have won on DTWS (Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, and Donald Driver) and several finalists (Jason Harris, Jacoby Jones, Hines Ward) so expect Johnson to be an early favorte. He will dance with Sharna Burgess, who worked wonders with Andy Dick last season. They look like they are already dancing well from rehearsal photos.
Christina Milian, 31, has a musical background as a singer, which has helped a lot of competitors like last year’s champion, Kellie Pickler. She also knows how the reality TV game is played due to her hosting role on NBC’s “The Voice.” It will help her navigate the long hours, demands and pressure. She is paired with repeat winner Mark Ballas, a big plus for her.
Elizabeth Berkley, 41, is an actress who danced in many of her roles. She’s discounting it but it can only help her. She and her partner, fan favorite pro Val Chmerkovskiy, could bring the drama both on and off the dance floor. Viewers love sparks and it doesn’t hurt to get a few extra votes for it. Rehearsal photos for Berkley and Chmerkovskiy look especially promising.
Amber Riley, 27, is a singer, dancer, and actress who stars on the Fox series “Glee.” She has to rehearse and execute production numbers every week on her show. She also drew the most popular and successful pro on DWTS, four time winner Derek Hough. He is the best choreographer on the show. He has competed in 11 seasons and he’s been in the top four nine times. He’s never placed less than sixth. Between their loyal fans, Riley and Hough won’t lack for votes and support.
Although we’ve been right on target with many predictions, this is the toughest season yet to predict. A little mystery goes a long way on reality TV.
We are putting a fine shine on the Communities disco ball and will host our first live chat of Season 17 on Monday night at 8 p.m. Let’s see how these newbies perform in the ballroom when the bright lights hit that disco ball. Who shows early talent? Who is likely to go home first next week?
“Dancing With the Stars” debuts Monday night, September 16, at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time on the ABC Television Network. NOTE: There is only one show weekly this season. The first couple to go home will be eliminated on Monday, September 23, combining two weeks of judges’ scores and the previous week of fan votes.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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