This season’s “Dancing With the Stars,” debuting Monday, looks to be a relatively strong crew, with a blend of class (Buzz Aldrin) and trash (Kate Gosselin, anyone?) Here are my early predictions on who will do well and who won’t based on their age, physique, job, ability to draw votes and past success of similar people.
LIKELIEST TO MAKE IT TO THE FINALE
Evan Lysacek- Five of the nine winners were athletes. And 59 percent of the top 3 finalists through the first nine seasons are guys. Those factors alone place 24-year-old Evan near the top of the list immediately. To boot, he just won an Olympic gold medal for figure skating. (Fellow figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi is a past winner.)
Chad Ochocinco – NFL players have done surprisingly well in this competition, including a winner (Emmitt Smith) and a runner up (Jerry Rice). Chad, 32, has plenty of charm, too, which should endear him to voters. The man was dubbed NFL’s “court jester” by The New York Times in a profile, donning a sombrero after one touchdown and handing a dollar bill to an official after another.
Nicole Scherzinger – She is best known as the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls, a group which dances quite a bit. As the 31-year-old singer (”Don’t Cha,” “Buttons”) notes below, the Viennese Waltz and the Tango are not the types of dance she’s used to. But she will likely adjust and impress the judges with her skills.
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK
Erin Andrews – Being an ESPN sportscaster didn’t help Kenny Mayne season 2. He was eliminated first. But this former Turner Sports host is in a different place. She’s far younger (31) and was a member of the Gator basketball dance team in the late 1990s while at the University of Florida. Clearly, she has coordination. And though the “Dancing” producers are unlikely to bring it up, she became notorious outside of sports circles after being stalked by a man who videotaped her nude through a hotel room peephole. That alone should get her some votes if she can open herself up emotionally on stage.
Jake Pavelka – He is in good shape and is incredibly likable, based on the big ratings for the just concluded season of ABC’s “The Bachelor.” The 31-year-old pilot notes in this ET report below that he has a muscular body that doesn’t make him flexible enough for dancing. So expect him in the early going to be fairly stiff. “Jake’s willing to do whatever it takes. But he lacks in the rhythm department,” his dance partner Chelsea Hightower told TV Guide. Nonetheless, he’ll get votes galore, at least early on, no matter how bad he dances.
Aiden Turner – Soap stars have done fairly well. Cameron Mathison (”All My Children”) came in fifth season five. Kelly Monaco (”General Hospital”), of course, won season one back in 2005. This 32-year-old actor from “All My Children” is pure eye candy and it’s a fair supposition to think most votes come from women. He could be a dark horse.
Pamela Anderson – She doesn’t exactly have a dancer’s physique and at age 42, she told TV Guide she never works out. But she has an enormous, um, fan base and her bubbly personality should play well on camera. She should also have fun parrying with the judges and her dance partner. No matter how bad she dances, she will be around at least through the halfway point.
Buzz Aldrin – The second man to walk on the moon is the oldest male contestant ever and second oldest period behind Cloris Leachman. Being 80 years old gives him instant sympathy votes from the voters. The graying tend to last until midway through the competition. Cloris, at age 82, and John Ratzenberger, age 60, lasted six weeks. Jerry Springer, at age 62, came in a surprising (and he himself said, undeserving) fifth his year.
Kate Gosselin – This 35-year-old mom of eight is the most divisive person on the cast. She has been tabloid fodder for the past couple of years, especially as she divorces Jon Gosselin. Some people are on Team Kate but I don’t get a sense she’s particularly popular. I can’t see her lasting very long, whether she can dance or not. (And that’s doubtful.)
LIKELY TO BE OUSTED EARLY
Shannen Doherty. She has been saddled with the “bad girl” reputation for so long, I’m not sure if she single-handedly raising $100 million for the Haiti earthquake would enable her to change that. Perhaps this show will help her since it usually softens the edges of any celebrity. At age 39, after leaving “Beverly Hills 90210″ and “Charmed” under cloudy circumstances, her career is kind of adrift. She certainly has the time to practice. But she’s going to have to show some serious dancing skills early on because she’s not going to get much in the way of early sympathy votes. Think Denise Richards, eliminated week two season eight. I’m not overly confident she’s going to last long.
Niecy Nash. This 40-year-old actress has relatively low-name recognition unless you happen to love “RENO 911!” or Style’s “Clean House.” She doesn’t look particularly athletic. Her one saving grace is her bigger-than-life, off-the-cuff humor, which might get her some early votes if she’s properly self deprecating.
“Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 8 p.m. Mondays