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After stumble, Dancing woos new Stars to fl oor

Football player, comedian and two country singers are among competitors.

By Michael Storey

This article was published March 17, 2013 at 2:10 a.m.

ABC’s Dancing With the Stars salsas and cha chas its way back for a 16th season with a two hour premiere at 7 p.m. Monday.

The couple with the lowest combined scores from the judges and viewer votes will be sent packing on the Dancing With the Stars: The Results Show when it debuts at 8 p.m. March 26.

Did you enjoy the show’s all star version last season? Not as many did. Although DWTS is still a ratings powerhouse, last year’s fall season finale drew only about 17 million viewers, down an uncomfortable 30 percent from the previous year. That has the network concerned.

Inviting past contestants back was ABC’s attempt to stem a multi-season ratings decline that might be signaling that America has had enough of ballroom competition, thank you.

The Washington Post reports that Jay Rasulo, chief financial officer of ABC parent Disney, admitted in a December panel discussion that the all-star gimmick didn’t work.

“We thought it was a great idea,” Rasulo said. “Turns out people didn’t want to see people who could dance. They wanted people who couldn’t dance. It’s not easy to be a taste-master in programming at a network.”

With DWTS as well as American Idol, The Voice and all the other competition shows, the most interesting characters are those who aren’t perfect. America loves an underdog. We want to see the flower blossom. Perfection is boring.

Still, 17 million viewers can’t be ignored. Maybe this season all the prodigal viewers will flock back to see the fresh crop of hopefuls contending for the coveted mirror ball. If not, everything has a season — a time to twirl and a time to pack up the paso doble and call it a night. DWTS has been a staple since 2005. We’ll see what happens this time around.

Meanwhile, here’s your handy guide to the players and their professional partners (many of whom have more fans than the “stars”). Clip it out and refer to it often. You can cross off the names as they exit.

Hosts: Tom Bergeron, Brooke Burke-Charvet.

Professional host Bergeron is also the front man for ABC’s America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Burke-Charvet was the crowd-favorite champion in Season 7 with her partner, Derek Hough. The 41-year-old mother of four has been DWTS co-host since Season 10.

Judges: Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli, Len Goodman.

Inaba, a former “Fly Girl” alongside Jennifer Lopez on Fox’s In Living Color, is an award-winning choreographer who once toured with Madonna.

Tonioli is also a choreographer. The excitable Italian has worked with Elton John, Sting, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones.

Goodman, an award-winning “Exhibition Dancing” professional, runs a dance school in Kent, England.

Cast and partners:

As usual, some of the dancing “stars” shine brighter than others. A couple are in it just for laughs and will be soon gone. Several hope the publicity revives a flagging career, and some hope the spotlight propels them to the next level of fame and fortune.

Wynonna Judd. The country music star finally agreed to dance after being asked for six years. Partner: Tony Dovolani, winner of last season with partner Melissa Rycroft.

D.L. Hughley. The stand-up comedian starred in the ABC sitcom The Hughleys. Partner: Cheryl Burke, two-time DWTS pro champ.

Jacoby Jones. The Baltimore Ravens wide receiver scored two touchdowns in the last Super Bowl. Partner: Karina Smirnoff, winner of Season 13.

Lisa Vanderpump. She’s the star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Partner: Gleb Savchenko in his DWTS debut.

Andy Dick. The, um, eccentric and outlandish (let’s go with that) comedian will hopefully be the first to go. Partner: Sharna Burgess in her DWTS debut. Sorry, Sharna.

Victor Ortiz. The pro boxer is a former welterweight champion. Partner: Lindsay Arnold in her DWTS debut.

Zendaya Coleman. The 16-year-old is the star of the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up. Partner: Valentin Chmerkovskiy, a finalist last season.

Aly Raisman. She’s a gold-medal gymnast from the London Olympics. Partner: Mark Ballas, two-time DWTS winner.

Ingo Rademacher. The German-born soap veteran played Jax on General Hospital. Partner: Kym Johnson, also a two-time winner.

Kellie Pickler. She’s a country singer and former American Idol contestant. Partner: Derek Hough, three-time past winner.

Dorothy Hamill. The figure skating legend won gold at the 1976 Olympics. Partner: Tristan MacManus, who has been partnered with Pamela Anderson, Gladys Knight and Nancy Grace.

Sean Lowe. The latest Bachelor alumnus pads his 15 minutes of fame while fiance (for now) Catherine Giudici cheers him on. Partner: Peta Murgatroyd, pro winner of Season 14.

My prediction: Pickler and Hough. She’s an adorable charmer and he’s the consummate pro. Remember — you saw it here first.

TV Week, Pages 81 on 03/17/2013

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