Photo Credit: Courtesy of ABC
As Dancing with the Stars premieres tonight (at 8 p.m. ET on ABC), season 14 is already standing out from the others. Sure, the sequined costumes will be as flashy as always and the judges' comments will be spirited, per usual, but at first glance, the new cast lacks a polarizing tabloid target.
Clearly, producers weren't able to wrangle any huge stars. (Not that they didn't try -- consider the high-profile rejections they got from Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain.) The internet rumor mill even has it that just last week, producers were desperately trying to sign Courtney Robertson on as a last-minute addition to the cast. (The gorgeous, much-reviled Bachelor villainess certainly would spice up the proceedings.)
But it's host Tom Bergeron's job to see the glass as half full, or actually, just plain full of tantalizing reasons this season will be worth watching.
Truth be told, the cast does contain some interesting choices. (At The Huffington Post, check out this exclusive video of the contestants meeting their dance partners for the first time.)
Actually, Maria Menounos is the odds-on favorite to win this season, though she'd rather not accept that pressure. "Now expectations are so high, and I'm not a dancer!" she told TVGuide.com. "I'm literally learning from scratch and it scares me."
Here's the full cast list of season 14:
-Jack Wagner, star of Melrose Place, is dancing with Anna Trebunskaya
-Former child star Melissa Gilbert is dancing with Maksim Chmerkovskiy
-Tennis champion Martina Navratilova is dancing with Tony Dovolani
-Donald Driver, Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver, is dancing with Peta Murgatroyd
-William Levy, telenovela star, is dancing with Cheryl Burke
-Sherri Shepherd, cohost of The View, is dancing with Val Chmerkovskiy
-Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins is dancing with Mark Ballas
-Singer Gavin DeGraw is dancing with Karina Smirnoff
-Roshon Fegan, Disney star, is dancing with Chelsie Hightower
-Maria Menounos, TV host, is dancing with Derek Hough
-Star of Family Matters Jaleel White -- yes, Steve Urkel -- is dancing with Kym Johnson
-Legendary singer Gladys Knight is dancing with Tristan MacManus
If you feel this list is too light on big name stars, senior producer Deena Katz has a message for you: Stop taking the title so literally. "The idea of the show is that by the end," she told USA Today, "you're enjoying people you never knew."