The new cast of 'Dancing With The Stars' includes David Hasselhoff, Kurt Warner, Kyle Massey, Rick Fox, hosts Brooke Burke and Tom Bergeron, and (bottom row) Brandy, Jennifer Grey, Margaret Cho, Audrina Patridge, Florence Henderson, and Bristol Palin.
There are several ways in which hearing the announcement of a new Dancing With The Stars cast is like having an auto mechanic tell you the results of a complete inspection of your 14-year-old car.
There's unlikely to be good news. There's likely to be some bad news. There's sure to be an effort to make what is only moderately significant ("Your air filter is dirty"/"we've got Michael Bolton") sound extremely important ("and if we don't replace it, your car could blow up"/"WE'VE GOT MICHAEL BOLTON!"). You can help yourself a lot by adopting a pose of tired but patient cynicism, understanding that everyone on earth has a job to do, and you don't have to buy anything your instincts are telling you not to. But most importantly: no matter what the news may be, no one will care a year from now.
Of course, no matter how many times you go through it, you're never really ready for the enormous "ugh" that the experience inspires from deep within your soul.
Last night, ABC announced the cast for the upcoming eleventh season. ("Eleventh season." Yes, really.)
Bristol Palin: This is not the first politically charged pick the show has ever made. Tom DeLay danced until his tootsies gave out a couple of seasons back, and in 2006, pundit Tucker Carlson united observers across the political spectrum, who came together to speak in one voice, and that voice said, "Dude. You cannot dance."
The problem with these picks isn't that Bristol Palin isn't at least as famous as plenty of other people they've featured (if you've been conversant with every underpants-modeling hottie who's popped up on this show, you are very conversant with underpants-modeling hotties). The problem is that the last thing anyone wants to do while enjoying something as utterly numbing to the mind as Dancing With The Stars — which can be a lot of fun when it wants to be — is to start arguing about politics. The kind of ugliness that enlivens a Dancing season is the ugliness of a pair of sparkle pants or a particularly enthusiastic application of sunless tanner in the shade known as Fine Corinthian Leather. Politics? In this setting? Bleh.
David Hasselhoff: Hasselhoff kind of seems like the alpha and the omega of Dancing participants, so I'm not sure why this took eleven seasons. But here he is, fresh off various uncomfortable run-ins with gossip outlets and his now-completed run on America's Got Talent. In some ways, he's the safest pick they could have made, because he's sort of pop-culture eternal: never far away, but never fully embraced. David Hasselhoff: the poster boy for public ambivalence.
Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino: Says the ABC press release: "Mike Sorrentino has become one of Hollywood’s emerging talents." HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Hang on. I am wiping tears from my eyes. Okay. Let's consider this.
"The Situation" is from Jersey Shore, where his "talent" appears to be Being On Television For No Particular Reason. I suppose he may be one of Hollywood's emerging talents in the same way bedbugs are one of New York's emerging populations.
Michael Bolton: There's something about having both Michael Bolton and David Hasselhoff on the same season that makes me think they really need to interrupt the results show one night for some kind of massive sing-off featuring a Celine Dion medley and these two dudes battling it out for Cheeseball Supremacy. But ABC says he's sold 53 million records, which is 53 million more than I've sold, so I'm sure Michael Bolton will cry all the way into his appearance fee irrespective of my opinion.
Brandy: Remember Brandy? From singing and Moesha? This is actually the easiest pick to analyze, because my response was, "[Shrug.] Sure."
Margaret Cho: I cannot figure out how many levels of irony comedian Margaret Cho is employing in appearing on Dancing With The Stars, which would normally require her to shake her booty in feathers, which I don't think of as being her speed, exactly. Perhaps she's come for a spirited political discussion with Bristol Palin.
Rick Fox: Former professional basketball player and now actor Rick Fox was a member of the UNC Tarheels during my prime Duke-watching years, and therefore, he is obviously a terrible person. Other than that, he's a standard former-pro-athlete pick.
Kurt Warner: The other former-pro-athlete pick, Kurt Warner is, as ABC boasts, "the first quarterback" they've ever had on the show. Football players have typically done very well, and in some cases, they've actually been good dancers. In other cases, they've been Lawrence Taylor. Warner also bellied up to a round of "Not My Job" on Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! earlier this year, so he's invited to every public-radio company picnic forever. (Not really.)
Kyle Massey: Massey is a Disney Channel star, both of his own show (Cory In The House) and originally of That's So Raven. Again, the Disney-tween-star is a button this show now pushes every year, and I have absolutely nothing against Kyle Massey, so I can merely hope that he's either a good dancer or a hilariously terrible dancer.
Audrina Patridge: Audrina Patridge has absolutely nothing to recommend her other than that she was on The Hills, which doesn't really recommend her anyway. Furthermore, on The Hills, she was the boring and inarticulate one. (I'm sorry, but it's largely true.) When you were the one with no personality on the show where nobody had a personality, it's kind of difficult to justify your presence on a show made up, literally, of "personalities."
Jennifer Grey: This is actually a clever idea, because of Dirty Dancing back in the day. Provided that absolutely no one at any time says the words "Patrick Swayze" in a mawkish and exploitative manner, it might be sort of fun to see her learn to dance again.
Florence Henderson: Okay, we saved the best for last. Because this is the best idea ever. Bawdy, funny, and a Broadway veteran, Henderson has absolutely everything that makes people likable on this show. She's really too good for it by a mile in a lot of ways, and no woman anywhere near her age has ever won or come particularly close to it, but if Donny Osmond can win, I'm telling you right now: do not count out the power of FloHen.