'Dancing With the Stars': This season's celebrities will be ...
An NFL star, a former TV super nerd and a Motown star — it could only mean the return of "Dancing With the Stars." The next team of celebrities (yes, that term is very elastic) for the 14th season of the ABC dance competition series was officially announced Tuesday LIVE!!, as host Tom Bergeron might proclaim, on "Good Morning America."
Child stars, singers, atheletes and TV hosts are aplenty this season. But has the sheen worn off the dance floor? Last season's finale, which saw sentimental favorite J.R. Martinez take home the mirror ball trophy, was the lowest-rated fall finale to date and was down significantly in the demographic of views ages 18 to 49 from the previous fall finale. Maybe the roster for this season will be enough to give the series a boost.
The 14th season will have a two-hour premiere Monday, March 19.
Here's the list of celebrities who will be getting sequined up this season (in case you don't already recognize them from the photos here) ...
JALEEL WHITE: Years of wearing skintight pants hiked up to his chin as TV’s nerdiest neighbor, Steve Urkel, in the long-running sitcom “Family Matters” did not leave White’s legs immobile. The 35-year-old actor, who, post-Urkel fame, has appeared on “House” and “NCIS,” and will soon be hosting a game show on the SyFy network, will get his dance on this season. Let’s hope he channels the suave moves of Urkel’s alter ego Stefan rather than Urkerl’s two left feet, or he might soon find himself saying, “Did I do that?”
MELISSA GILBERT: It’s the sort of gig Nellie Oleson might yank Laura Ingall’s perfectly braided pigtails over. The former child star best known for her role as Laura in “Little House on the Prairie,” who went on to make a career out of appearing in TV movies and as a leader of the Screen Actors Guild, will be putting on those strappy dancing heels and even strappier dancing outfits.
JACK WAGNER: It’s the only logical next step in life after a split from Heather Locklear, right? The aging hearthrob (he’s 52! Where did the time go? ) best known for his roles on “General Hospital” (Oh, Frisco Jones!), “The Bold and the Beautiful” and “Melrose Place,” will see if he has what it takes to cut a rug and land some decent scores.
SHERRI SHEPHERD: Perhaps Shepherd was tired of the sedentary life that comes with co-hosting “The View”? Guess the comedian doesn’t have enough on her plate to get those legs moving. She’s also host of “The Newlywed Game.” Here’s hoping her pal Niecy Nash, a contestant in Season 10, has given her some words of wisdom.
MARIA MENOUNOS: The “Extra” host knows a thing or two about skimpy outfits — ahem, she donned a bikini in the middle of freezing Time Square after losing a Super Bowl bet — so some skimpy sequined numbers under the warmth of bright lights will be a piece of cake when she joins the cast of celebrities competing this season. We’re sure “Extra” buddy Mario Lopez, a former "Dancing" contestant, also provided words of caution on those pesky plunging necklines.
GAVIN DEGRAW: Maybe now the rocker’s biggest claim to TV fame won’t be for having penned that “One Tree Hill” theme song. Will the 35-year-old singer, who recently made headlines after he was attacked by a group of men in New York City, be adding choreography to his performances after his stint on “DWTS”? Gosh, we hope not.
WILLIAM LEVY: We really hope rumors of a relationship with Jennifer Lopez shortly after she divorced Marc Anthony weren’t what nabbed the Cuban American actor/model a spot on this season’s roster. But we wouldn’t be surprised. Unless, maybe, just maybe, the casting director is an avid telenovela watcher?
GLADYS KNIGHT: The 67-year-old singer is taking the midnight train to the dance rehearsal studio. Tagged the Empress of Soul, she’s almost bound to have some soulful moves — or does she?
ROSHON FEGAN: The 20-year-old appears on a Disney Channel series called “Shake It Up,” about a group of friends who are (gasp!) professional dancers on a local show. Uh …
KATHERINE JENKINS: Opera fans, rejoice! The Welsh mezzo-soprano is already familiar with the sleek floor on “Dancing With the Stars,” having observed its sheen as a performer on the show last year.
DONALD DRIVER: As if moonlighting as a children’s author wasn’t enough! The Green Bay Packers wide receiver is ditching the cleats for some ballroom shoes. Will Quickie be as swift with the upcoming choreography he’ll be given?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Wielding a racket is a natural precursor to a stint as a wannabe pro ballroom dancer. Hey, Navratilova played professional tennis until she was 49 (49!) — that sort of dedication and resilience has her primed for a lengthy stay, don’t you think? And she’s already used to short skirts.
— Yvonne Villarreal
Photo: Clockwise, Melissa Gilbert, Maria Menounos, Martina Navratilova, Sherri Shepherd, Katherine Jenkins, Gladys Knight, William Levy, Donald Drivers, Gavin DeGraw, Jaleel White, Roshon Fegan, Jack Wagner. Credit: Associated Press / Univision / EPA / AFP Getty Images / CBS / MCT