Dancing With The Stars new cast: Valerie Harper, Amber Riley, Snooki

The new stars competing in Season 17 were named on Good Morning America Wednesday, and there were a few surprises. Photo: Dancing With The Stars Fall 2013 Cast / Photo ABC

SAN DIEGO, September 4, 2013 –  Season 17’s Dancing With the Stars cast was not a huge surprise given the big number of rumors, leaks, and hints on Twitter and various websites. The leading fan website PureDWTS.com had the lion’s share of the names correct over the past week, along with TMZ and @DWTSGossip on Twitter.

Still, it wasn’t set in stone until the official announcement of the Fall 2013 season contestants on Wednesday’s Good Morning America on ABC. The new stars will hit the ballroom with their professional partners on Monday night, September 16.

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Not all the suspense was missing. There were still a few complete surprises.

For those of you who are ready to scroll down and read the names, the Season 17 competitors as announced in order of apperance on GMA 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
  • Leah Remini and Tony Dovoloni

Some of the hotter rumors that turned out to be untrue: no Jamie Lee Curtis, Ryan Lochte, John Stamos or Rob Lowe.

Dancing With The Stars host Brooke Burke-Charvet arrives at Good Morning America with the cast list for the show. Photo: ABC via PureDWTS.com

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. “The cancer is moving in the right direction, so my husband said ‘Let’s just buy time’,” said Harper. She will dance with Tristan McManus.

Another name recently in the headlines is actress Leah Remini, 43, star of the CBS comedy “The King of Queens.” She recently made a much publicized break with the Church of Scientology in July. Remini’s role on the show was confirmed by TMZ and US Weekly magazine a week ago. She drew Tony Dovoloni, who won with Melissa Rycroft. “When people get to know her, they’re going to keep voting,” said Dovoloni.

Nicole Polizzi, known as Snooki, in a photo from her popular Twitter feed.

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, 25, of “Jersey Shore” fame could surprise viewers. If you haven’t seen her recently, you may be surprised to find out Polizzi is in phenomenal shape. As she told GMA audiences, she did years of gymnastics and cheerleading before gaining her reality TV fame. She’ll probably stay longer than her former cast member and nemesis, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino. He left in the fourth week.  

Jack Osbourne, 27, son of infamous rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his popular talk/reality host wife Sharon, follows his sister Kelly on DWTS. Kelly Osbourne’s participation transformed her appearance and launched a successful entertainment career. Osbourne says his goal is to beat his sister, who placed third. He draws popular pro partner Cheryl Burke who is a two-time winner.

Christina Milian, 31, is a singer/actress who has been a host on the NBC reality singing competition “The Voice.” She is paired with pro Mark Ballas and could also be a favorite if her musical ability translates to the dance floor.

Actress and singer Amber Riley, best known from the TV series Glee.

Amber Riley, 27, is a singer, dancer, and actress who stars on the Fox series “Glee.” She’s paired with the most popular and successful DWTS pro, four time winner Derek Hough. This pair will be considered an early favorite. “Amber is a lot of fun, and we’re ready to dance,” said Hough.

Elizabeth Berkley, 41, is best known for her role on the TV comedy “Saved By The Bell” and numerous film roles. Berkley, who danced in many of her roles, said it’s sometimes harder to re-learn than start fresh, and pointed out she’s never done ballroom dancing. She draws fan favorite pro Val Chmerkovskiy. This couple seems destined to bring the drama factor this season.

Two pretty boys will please the ladies in the audience. Brant Daugherty,28, is from the ABC family, literally. The actor plays the role Noel Kahn on the ABC Family series “Pretty Little Liars.” He also has a recurring role as Brian in the long-running NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” Corbin Bleu, 24, is an actor best known for his role in “High School Musical.” Dougherty dances with Peta Murgatroyd, who won with Donald Driver. Bleu draws previous winner Karina Smirnoff, who won with J.R. Martinez.

Retired NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson is the lone professional athlete on DWTS in Season 17.

There is only one professional athlete on the show this year, former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, 41. Three NFL players have won on DTWS (Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, and Donald Driver), so expect Johnson to be an early favorte. He will dance with Sharna Burgess, who worked wonders with Andy Dick last season. 

Blue Collar Comedy comedian Bill Engvall, 56, rolls into the DL Hughley/Andy Dick spot. He draws Emma Slater, who has gotten her promotion from the dance troupe to be a featured professional for the first time this season. 

Here’s your oddball addition no one saw coming: Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” 57, is an American science educator, comedian, television host, actor, writer, and scientist who began his career as a mechanical engineer at Boeing. He’s known for his Disney/PBS TV show which ran in the 1990s. Nye said dancing “is all physics.” He draws a brand new pro on the show, professional dancer 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.

Fans seem excited about the Season 17 cast. This year there is a major change: there will only be a single two-hour show each week on Monday.

Some seasons are loaded up with professional athletes or Olympic Gold Medalists. With the exception of Keyshawn Johnson, athletes are largely absent from the DWTS cast this season. It makes for a much more even playing field and the relative lack of obvious front runners can be nothing but a net positive for the show.

Why do stars who have enormous success in other fields agree to compete on “Dancing With the Stars,” risking public embarrassment and rejection despite a lot of hard work? Let’s face it, when you’ve beaten a terminal cancer diagnosis, a Cha Cha Cha doesn’t seem too daunting or stressful.  

Communities will lead live chats every Monday night, so be sure to join us the minute the Harold Wheeler Orchestra begins to play on September 16.

“Dancing With the Stars” debuts Monday night, September 16, 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time, and airs on Monday and Tuesday nights on the ABC Television Network.

What do you think of this season’s competitors on Dancing With The Stars? Who looks like an early favorite to you? Tell us in the Comments section.

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 +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities at WashingtonTimes.com” when quoting from or linking to this story.   


Copyright © 2013 by Falcon Valley Group

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Gayle Falkenthal

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, MS, APR, is President of the Falcon Valley Group, a San Diego based communications consulting firm. Falkenthal is a veteran award winning broadcast and print journalist, editor, producer, talk host and commentator. She is an instructor at National University in San Diego, and previously taught in the School of Journalism & Media Studies at San Diego State University.


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