The biggest news for fans of Dancing With the Stars is that the venerable series has been downsized by half.
ABC publicity consulted the Big Book o’ TV Hyperbole and is calling Season 17 a “one-night extravaganza.” We’ll see.
The show returns at 7 p.m. Monday. The new two-hour format means performances, results and elimination will take place all in one evening. The eliminations begin with the second episode Sept. 23.
Declining ratings are to blame for the cutback. Last year’s season finale drew a respectable 15.2 million viewers, but ratings have been in slow and steady decline for five seasons. Ratings for the advertisement-setting 18-49 demographic have dropped more than 43 percent over that time.
Maybe the new format will boost interest. I doubt it. Shows have a natural lifespan and rarely rebound once the slide has begun.
Meanwhile, ABC is boasting of a “dynamic lineup of stars” this season. They include “a sitcom legend, a reality mega star, a football champion and a pop music sensation.”
Network public relations never met a superlative adjective it didn’t like. Here are the 12 members of the “stellar new cast” set to compete, along with their professional partners.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren, 41. Best known for playing Jessie in Saved by the Bell, and for the unfortunate career decision of Showgirls. Partner: Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
Corbin Bleu, 24. He was Chad in Disney’s High School Musical series. You might not recognize him without his signature mop of hair. Partner: Karina Smirnoff.
Brant Daugherty, 28. Noel on Pretty Little Liars, and Lt. Patrick Clark on Army Wives. Partner: Peta Murgatroyd.
Bill Engvall, 56. Comedian best known for his work with Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy. Partner: Emma Slater.
Valerie Harper, 74. The sentimental favorite, the sitcom star announced in March she has terminal cancer that has affected the lining of her brain. Although it’s not in remission, Harper’s doctors have cleared her for the show and she has decided not to sit around and mope. Partner: Tristan MacManus.
Keyshawn Johnson, 41. The former NFL star is now an ESPN analyst. Partner: Sharna Burgess.
Christina Milian, 31. Singer/actress best known as Lina Cruz in 2009’s direct-to-DVD Bring It On: Fight to the Finish. Partner: Mark Ballas.
Bill Nye, 57. Yes, he’s the Bill Nye the Science Guy, winner of 18 Emmys and beloved by millennials. Partner: Tyne Stecklein.
Jack Osbourne, 27. TV host, correspondent, producer, actor, reality star and son of Sharon and Ozzy. Partner: Cheryl Burke.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, 25. Pint-size (4-foot-8) bad girl from Jersey Shore. Partner: Sasha Farber.
Leah Remini, 43. Co-star of The King of Queens and The Talk who has made recent headlines by loudly leaving the Church of Scientology. Partner: Tony Dovolani.
Amber Riley, 27. Best known as Mercedes Jones on Glee. Partner: Derek Hough.
Once again, our hosts will be Tom Bergeron (America’s Funniest Home Videos) and Season 7 champ Brooke Burke-Charvet.
The judges remain ballroom expert Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
Haven returns. Fans of science fiction drama, take note: Haven Season 4 kicks off at 9 p.m. Friday on Syfy.
The series, loosely based on the Stephen King novella The Colorado Kid, stars Emily Rose, Eric Balfour and Lucas Bryant as denizens of a sleepy little Maine town that has lots of secrets.
The main secret is that the town is chock full of folks struggling with supernatural afflictions they call “the troubles.”
When last we saw our heroes, Haven had been blasted by a meteor storm. Audrey (Rose) and Duke (Balfour) had vanished.
The premiere episode, “Fallout,” picks up six months later and deals with where the duo find themselves.
Joining the cast this season are Colin Ferguson (Eureka) as a mysterious stranger with a secret agenda and Christian Camargo (Dexter) as Duke’s estranged half brother who has “a dark and lethal secret.”
Final Notice. Tonight’s the last curtain for USA’s Burn Notice. After seven seasons, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) and gang bid farewell at 8 p.m.
USA promises that the end will be “an explosive conclusion that one beloved character will not survive.”
Fran canned. TV Land has split with Happily Divorced. The Fran Drescher sitcom, based somewhat on her own life, managed two seasons and 34 episodes before the plug was pulled. The series finale aired in February.
Heads up. Liv and Maddie, a new Disney Channel sitcom, debuts at 7 p.m. Sunday. It stars Dove Cameron in the dual role of 15-year-old twin sisters. Liv is a Hollywood star come home to Wisconsin, and Maddie is a hometown basketball star.
The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:
Weekend, Pages 30 on 09/12/2013
Print Headline: Dancing With the Stars will cut smaller rug