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Posted at 11:15 PM ET, 02/28/2011

Professional dieter Kirstie Alley, Steelers' star Hines Ward top new 'Dancing' lineup

By Lisa de Moraes


Despite their best efforts, the producers of ABC's hit competition show "Dancing with the Stars" were not able to line up any polarizing political figure to participate in the spring edition, which starts March 21.

Christine O'Donnell, the "I'm not a witch" Tea Party candidate from Delaware who ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2010, had alerted her fans last week the producers had made her a formal offer to dance on the show, and wondered how they'd feel about it if she said yes. Apparently they did not think much.

According to ABC insiders, a polarizing political figure was high on the wish list, owing to the boffo ratings and viewer-voting results enjoyed by the fall edition of the dancing-celebrities show thanks to Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska governor and possible '12 presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Non-pro dancers have always been selected based on their ability to get out the bloc vote, and the Palin name had been a call to action for Tea Party bloggers. Bristol made it all the way to the final round of competition. ABC could not have been happier.

While lacking a political figure, this next round of competition will include: professional dieter Kirstie Alley, former Hugh Hefner gal pal and current E! reality star Kendra Wilkinson, supermodel Petra Nemcova, syndicated talk-show host Wendy Williams, and Mike Catherwood - aka Dr. Drew Pinsky's "Loveline" co-host.

Also competing on the next edition of "Dancing": hip-hop singer Romeo, who you may know from his starring role in the Nickelodeon series "Romeo!" about a middle school basketball star cum aspiring rapper.

This edition of "Dancing's" Disney Channel Star slot will be filled by Chelsea Kane. Kane starred in the network's Jonas brothers' series, "Jonas L.A." and provides one of the voices for Disney's animated show about a school of fish in a pet store aquarium, called "Fish Hooks."

This season's Totally Forgotten Celebrity slot will be filled by Ralph Macchio, who was the original "Karate Kid."

The next round of "Dancing" edition will have a mess of athletes competing. They include Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard, and WWE wrestler Chris Jericho.

Jericho is an old pro at reality TV, having hosted ABC's "Downfall" - a series in which people tried to correctly answer questions for profit while standing on top of a building and if they got the answer wrong, the prize was tossed off the top of the building. I know what you're thinking: why wasn't that one a monster hit? Anyway, Leonard is also a veteran of reality TV, having hosted and played mentor on Mark Burnett's boxers-in-training series, "The Contender."

"Dancing with the Stars" host Tom Bergeron unveiled the new lineup during Monday's broadcast of reality series "The Bachelor."

After the names were read off and the new dancers came out on stage, reporters in the studio were allowed to ask a couple questions. One George, from Los Angeles ABC station KABC, asked Sugar Ray: "As an athlete, as a boxer, I'm sure you have had to have a secret weapon along the way to knock out your opponent. What will you do to knock out these other 10?"

"I think it's all psychological," Leonard responded. " I think it's spiritual. It's the mental preparation. And I think that - "

"Have you ever watched the show?" "Dancing" host Tom Bergeron wondered out loud, speaking for us all.

That seemed to rattle Leonard, psychologically and spiritually. "Yes, I have," he responded, but without any real chirpiness.

"But you, Tom, you told me backstage that you now have become a boxer, part-time boxer," Leonard continued, trying to change the subject.

"I use the same mind game," Leonard concluded.

"Really? Let's give it up," Bergeron responded, sensing the Q&A portion of the evening's festivities was going nowhere fast.

"This is going to be a fun season, I can tell."

Here is the new cast, in no particular order...


Romeo. (AP)


Chelsea Kane. (AP)


Petra Nemcova. (Getty Images)


Sugar Ray Leonard. (AP)


Kirstie Alley. (AP)


Kendra Wilkinson. (Getty Images)


Chris Jericho. (AP)


Hines Ward. (AP)


Wendy Williams (Amy Etra, Photographer)


Ralph Macchio. (AP)

MIKE CATHERWOOD (shown with Dr. Drew):

Mike Catherwood (right), with co-host Dr. Drew. (AP)

(Top photo: "Dancing With the Stars" Season 12 cast, credit ABC)

By Lisa de Moraes  | February 28, 2011; 11:15 PM ET
Categories:  Dancing With the Stars  
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Hines Ward will bring Steeler Nation to the table to vote, and that's not insignificant...and if he is paired with Cheryl Burke, as I expect he might? That'll be a winning combination. You read it here first! :)

Posted by: SportzNut21 | March 1, 2011 2:22 PM | Report abuse

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