SAN DIEGO, September 23, 2012 – One million voters in an ABC/People Magazine online poll recently named “Dancing With the Stars” the number one reality show of all-time.
Who are we to argue? Celebrity participants and their now-famous professional partners make headlines all season long as media and fans follow every move on and off the dance floor. It’s one of the highest rated shows on TV. It has launched and re-launched careers: Ricki Lake, Kelly Osborne, and Kirstie Alley all credit the show for their current success. Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is often introduced as “Dancing With The Stars” champion before his racing is mentioned.
Get prepared for the headline heat to turn up as the first ever All-Stars edition starts Monday night, September 24, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time in a two-hour show. Among all of the series debuts on TV, it is the most anticipated.
All the names should be familiar as former competitors from past seasons. All but two made it to the finals, and six are former champions. But most of the former winners are going to be disappointed. Only one person can take home the Mirror Ball Trophy.
Communities correctly predicted two of the three finalists from last season, winner Donald Driver and third place finisher William Levy. All-Stars presents a unique challenge because the competitors are a known quantity. Some have new partners, which gives them a greater challenge – or a clean slate? Some may split votes among their fans. But we will fearlessly make our predictions anyway in the same three categories as last season: The Also-Rans, The Jury Is Out, The Contenders.
The Also-Rans: Pamela Anderson, Sabrina Bryan, Drew Lachey, Kelly Monaco
As with figure skating and gymnastics, the overall level of competition improves and the bar is raised year over year. All-Stars from earlier seasons are at a disadvantage.
Pamela Anderson, 45; and Sabrina Bryan, 28: These two were the lowest placed competitors in previous seasons. Anderson’s dancing will not be at the level of the rest of the dancers. She should be out first. Bryan is a much better dancer, but she didn’t have the fan votes the first time and it’s doubtful she will this time.
Drew Lachey, 36: Lachey won in season 2 with Cheryl Burke. He’s now dancing with Anna Trebunskaya. It’s not a bad match up, but I don’t think they’ll have the chemistry or fan votes to stick around.
Kelly Monaco, 36: She won the first Mirror Ball Trophy. Her new partner, Val Chmerkokvskiy, is a popular pro. She is also on an ABC network show, the long-running soap opera General Hospital. ABC hopes she’ll stick around and will pull out the stops to feature her. If her soap fans vote for her, she might prove me wrong. But she was on the show before expectations got so high. I’m not sure her dancing will be at the highest level.
The Jury Is Out: Helio Castroneves, Emmitt Smith, Joey Fatone, Melissa Rycroft, Bristol Palin
Bristol Palin, 21: Palin proved to be a better dancer than many of us thought. She stood up to the controversy about her appearance well and her partner Mark Ballas brought out the best in her. Palin and Ballas are together again. But the novelty factor may have worn off a little. Up against some serious talent, don’t expect Palin to make it into the finals this time.
Helio Castroneves, 37: Castroneves draws a new partner, Chelsie Hightower. He’s a winning personality but may be the best dancer who suffers most with other popular competitors drawing away fan votes. If Hightower ends up being a good fit for Castroneves, he should make it into the middle rounds, but not beyond.
Emmitt Smith, 43: Football players have a natural fan base, but they’ll be watching Monday Night Football. Smith dances with his original partner, Cheryl Burke, and her personal popularity is a big plus. Smith competed in Season 3 and he didn’t have much competition. He may not seem quite as sharp up against tougher competition.
Melissa Rycroft, 29: Rycroft and partner Tony Dovoloni perform the ballroom dances with elegant style, but they will need to turn up the heat in the Latin dances to make it to the later rounds. She will need high judges scores, especially if Rycroft’s fans don’t vote. If not, she’ll make her exit.
Joey Fatone, 35: Fatone performed in the Las Vegas stage show for several months, so his skills are sharp. He knows how to work a crowd. He drew his original partner, the popular Kym Johnson. His boy band fans need to vote if he’s going to duke it out in the final weeks with more athletic, skilled or popular competitors.
The Contenders: Apolo Anton Ohno, Gilles Marini, Shawn Johnson, Kirstie Alley
Apolo Anton Ohno, 30: Ohno is one of the most recognized American Winter Olympians. It doesn’t hurt that his face is on every Subway restaurant in America. He drew new partner Karina Smirnoff, a fan favorite and former Mirror Ball Trophy winner (with J.R. Martinez). It will be all about the chemistry between these two, their choices in choreography and whether their fans stick with them to the end or vote for another Olympian.
Kirstie Alley, 61: The oldest All-Star, Alley and her partner Maks Chmerkovskiy are a match made in ratings heaven. The fans can’t get enough of them. They love Alley’s personal triumph, watching her lose 40 pounds and coming in a surprising second. She’s starting off in better shape, she and Chmerkovskiy dance well together, and their fans are loyal and they vote.
Gilles Marini, 36: Marini is this season’s heartthrob. He also happens to be a superb technical dancer. He was not well-known to American audiences in his first appearance but he nearly won the competition anyway, barely getting edged out by Shawn Johnson. He dances this year with Peta Murgatroyd, the reigning Mirror Ball Trophy champion. Marini so lucked out. He and Murgatroyd have the same work ethic, competitive fire, and lack of personal drama. Let’s face it, these two are sex on a plate. You’ll want a cigarette after watching them dance even if you don’t smoke.
Shawn Johnson, 20: The former Olympic all-around gymnastics gold medalist may be the best athlete of the bunch. She has a new partner: the show’s most popular pro and three-time champion Derek Hough. Hough’s genius for choreography and Johnson’s ability to execute makes them the strongest and most physically perfect dancers. But they must have that all-important chemistry and fan votes to get them to the top once again.
Marini has a score to settle; Murgatroyd would like to repeat her title. But Hough wants to be the first four-time Mirror Ball Trophy winner and Johnson is a born competitor. If it doesn’t boil down to these two in the finals, it’s because something went wrong.
We are putting a fine shine on the Communities disco ball and will host our first live chat of the All-Stars season on Monday night at 8 p.m. Let’s see how these seasoned competitors look the second time around. Who has improved? Who has left their dance moves behind? Who will emerge as an early favorite?
“Dancing With the Stars” debuts Monday night, September 24, at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific Time, and airs on Monday and Tuesday nights on the ABC Television Network.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Slip on your favorite pair of dancing shoes and join Communities writers as we live chat this season opener! Your dance partners are:
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