CLEVELAND - ABC just announced the cast for season 18 of “Dancing with the Stars.” The body of Brooke Burke’s co-hosting duties isn’t even cold yet, but let’s just go ahead and predict the whole season, shall we?
I know what you’re thinking. Colin, it’s too soon to predict the season. Oh, maybe I just want it to end that much faster.
Ha, I kid. (Is it May yet?)
Okay, get your Bitcoins ready to blow your lifesavings away on an online gambling site by betting on DWTS results. [Disclamer: I disown all responsibility for betting on DWTS. Unless… you win big. Just saying.]
Host Tom Bergeron and new replacement co-host, former contestant Erin Andrews, unveiled the new cast on “Good Morning America” Tuesday. And I’m also predicting some interesting rivalries. (Twirls villainous mustache.)
First up, we have some experienced celebrities and athletes competing, including Diana Nyad.
Not sure who she is? That’s why she’ll be eliminated first. Diana is that 64-year-old long-distance swimmer who got sabotaged by a horde of villainous jellyfish, only to face down sharks and swim from Cuba to Florida after four tries. She’s paired with fast-footed Henry.
Henry tweeted, “Excited to say Diana Nyad @DianaNyad is my partner for #Season18 #DWTS #GMA #GoodMorningAmerica @GMA @DancingABC http://fb.me/1fGHrnjFC.”
Are you excited, Henry? Are you? Diana may have a competitive spirit, but she doesn’t have the name recognition, and likely lacks the star power. All I can say is, watch out for jellyfish.
Veteran actor Billy Dee Williams will hit the dance floor with Emma. You remember Billy Dee as Lando Carlissian in “Star Wars” and Harvey Dent from the 1989 “Batman.” (Oooh, hope he does a “Batdance.” Cue the army of Vicki Vales - http://en.musicplayon.com/play?v=478997 .)
Now, 76-year-old Billy Dee could be a silver fox with some slick moves (I mean, I presume his hair is grey now – haven’t seen him in a while), or he could be a bit rusty. I’m predicting the latter, so he might not last long.
Billy Dee tweeted, “Honored to be part of DWTS Season 18! Looking forward to the challenge ahead ;).”
NeNe Leaks of the “Real Housewives” of Who Cares will be next. Of course, Tony is saddled with her. He always seems to get lumped with the handful partners (Kate Gosselin, Wendy Williams, Wynonna Judd, Leah Remini). I could be wrong, but affable NeNe does not seem that coordinated, although her fans will keep her in the game for a few weeks.
NeNe tweeted, “Do u think @TonyDovolani will make me lose 20lbs? That's my goal👍 gonna be a stick when this is over😩.”
Here’s where the rivalries kick in (at least, in my mind).
When it comes to offbeat athletes, first we have former NHL star Sean Avery, who’s partnered with Karina. Avery is an eclectic guy with an… interesting personal life. I trust he will probably do well with the dances, and he’s amusing in interviews, but he might be a mid-season casualty due to lack of star power.
The other offbeat athlete is Amy Purdy, who’s paired with golden boy Derek.
Amy tweeted, “I couldn't be more excited or more honored to be paired with this amazing human @derekhough for @DancingABC ! Travel safe, see you soon!”
Amy is a Paralympic snowboarder who lost her legs to disease and competes with prosthetics. That’s the kind of winning spirit and underdog story that could carry her to the finale. (Although, many people don’t consider her an underdog, but the show may portray her that way.) And we all know Derek is untouchable… but she won’t end the season with him. How do I know? More on that coming up.
First, I spot juicier rivalries ahead – like the pretty boy face-off.
In one corner, we have Australian pop singer Cody Simpson. He’s only 17 and paired up with Witney. Don’t know much about this guy, but he’s a also professional swimmer, so he’s got the physical chops for the competition. Oh, also he’s young and pretty – so he’s clinched the young girl social network vote.
That is – until you work in the James Maslow factor. The rival pretty boy is the star of Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush” show and boy band. Maslow is partnered with crafty DWTS pro Peta. Will the girls go Team Cody or Team James?! #meh
James tweeted, “I'm going to be on Dancing With The Stars this season with the beautiful @PetaMurgatroyd. Very excited! Be sure to w… http://www.whosay.com/l/mnE7VtY.”
But then there’s another rivalry – the classic sitcom female stars.
First up, we have Danica McKellar – the ultimate ideal of the girl next door who not only stole the heart of Fred Savage but guys nationwide on “The Wonder Years.” Still commanding a significant sentimental fanbase, she should fare well with Val, who’s great at playing up his partner’s attractive aspects.
Be sure to tweet @danicamckellar, who’s asking, “Hey everyone! Any ideas
for a #DWTS team name for me & @iamvalc??”
The other sitcom female star – Candace Cameron Bure of “Full House.” This one also commands a huge fanbase, but might pull more of the female vote than Danica. She’s dealing with a double-edged sword in partner Mark; he's competitive, but the judges always slam his unorthodox choreography.
Candace tweeted, “In all my excitement over #DWTS …. I'm off to bed! Waking up at 12am this morn for a full days work has this mommy tired! #CarpoolLineAt2.”
The last – and I predict – best rivalry features world champion ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who just competed in the Winter Olympics in Russia.
Charlie tweeted, “Yo! Tweet your support for #TeamSharChar @SharnaBurgess and I are so excited to dance for that Mirror Ball Trophy! pic.twitter.com/iOvNyMhnYw.”
Now, this should prove interesting. These two are used to partnering with each other. Except now they will compete against each other with new partners. And they’re trading their familiar ice rink for the dance floor.
Charlie is paired up with adorable and resourceful Sharna, who I want to see reach the finale – while Meryl is paired up with… Maks.
Yep. Maks. After being away for two years, the dance floor bad boy is back in the competition.
Meryl tweeted, “Feeling so fortunate to have been partnered with @MaksimC on @DancingABC! ☀️ Let the adventure begin! Weeeee! pic.twitter.com/DXnQS9ZKea.”
But wait, there’s one more star. Drew Carey. The Cleveland native and game show host could be a dark horse in this competition. He channels the same likeability vibe that Bill Engvall and Donny Osmond had, and that carried them far. People voting for Drew because they like him could bump out prettier, younger, more athletic stars. Drew is paired with Cheryl, so named because she has her share of Mirrorball Trophies.
But none of these stars will end the season with their current professional partners. In a twist, halfway through the season, the show must swap up their assigned partner for a new one – and viewers vote who gets who. That means a new learning curve at the halfway mark and fresh head-butting. Excellent.
There are a lot of unknown factors besides judge scores and dancing ability, including inherent fan base, likeability, judge backlash, and injuries. But unless Amy or Drew upends the odds, I’m picture the final three will include one of the sitcom gals up against the ice skating stars; after all, they’ve got Sochi momentum going into this thing. I also think the girls will shift their "isn't he cute" vote from the pretty boys to Charlie.
Who will win? The final two will be the pro skaters and I pick… Meryl – only because she has more Twitter followers than Charlie.
Place your bets!
The new season of “Dancing with the Stars” premieres 8:00 p.m. Monday, March 17, on ABC.
More information can be found at: http://abc.go.com/primetime/dancingwiththestars/index .