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Handicapping ‘Dancing With the Stars’ season 12

DANCING WITH THE STARS -  February 28, 2011 - "Dancing with the Stars" hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke announced the 11 celebrities heading to the dance floor this season during a live press conference tonight. A star-studded cast filled with celebrities across a variety of genres are set to compete each week on the dance floor in the spectacular two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars," MONDAY, MARCH 21 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/ADAM LARKEY) KIRSTIE ALLEY, HINES WARD, CHRIS JERICHO, RALPH MACCHIO, WENDY WILLIAMS, TOM BERGERON, BROOKE BURKE, "PSYCHO" MIKE CATHERWOOD, ROMEO, SUGAR RAY LEONARD, KENDRA WILKINSON, CHELSEA KANE

DANCING WITH THE STARS - February 28, 2011 - "Dancing with the Stars" hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke announced the 11 celebrities heading to the dance floor this season during a live press conference tonight. A star-studded cast filled with celebrities across a variety of genres are set to compete each week on the dance floor in the spectacular two-hour season premiere of "Dancing with the Stars," MONDAY, MARCH 21 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/ADAM LARKEY) KIRSTIE ALLEY, HINES WARD, CHRIS JERICHO, RALPH MACCHIO, WENDY WILLIAMS, TOM BERGERON, BROOKE BURKE, "PSYCHO" MIKE CATHERWOOD, ROMEO, SUGAR RAY LEONARD, KENDRA WILKINSON, CHELSEA KANE

Who are you most looking forward to seeing on "Dancing With the Stars"? (Pick up to 3)

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When it debuts season 12 tonight, “Dancing With the Stars” will have no Bristol Palin or Kate Gosselin on the cast to goose ratings.  But the usual motley crew of actors, athletes and “personalities” did secure a few colorful characters (Wendy Williams, Chris Jericho, Kirstie Alley), though nobody who would normally generate any extra “buzz.”

Here is my semi-annual attempt at handicapping the dancers with limited information. ABC provided preview videos of each of the 11 contestants practicing  (I’ll include a few here). I’ve used those, the backgrounds of each of the 11 and past voting patterns to guide me into three silos:

Likely to finish high up on the leaderboard

Hines Ward – The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and UGA grad has a warm smile and athletic prowess that should take him far in the competition. NFL players have a loyal following and tend to do well on the show.

Chelsea Kane - Unless you’re a Disney Channel fan (or a parent of one), you probably have no idea who this is.  But don’t under-estimate the power of the Disney machine, where hard work and perserverence as well as talent are a premium. Kyle Massey, Monique Coleman and Sabrina Bryan are alums who have done well in the past (though Bryan was cut earlier than expected.)

Romeo - His dad Master P took over for him five years ago when he got injured. Arguably, his dad was one of the worst dancers in the history of the show. So does this mean Romeo will follow his Master P’s very clunky footsteps? Doubtful. Given his youth and R&B/hip-hop cred (think Brandy, Mya and Mel B), he could be around awhile.

Chris Jericho – He is an enormously popular wrestler in WWE land. And he’s working with Cheryl Burke, who has won three times before.  It helps that he possesses a good sense of humor and knows the show.  In his rehearsal footage, he makes a crack about Master P.  Jericho doesn’t look half bad here:

In the middle muddle

Wendy Williams - Wendy is a sassy talk-show host who’s on the rise. She will likely be a lot like Niecy Nash, who finished fifth thanks more to her personality than her dancing. Williams’ fan base may keep her around far longer than the judges’ scores.

Kirstie Alley – The early rehearsal video of the former “Cheers” star is scary bad. She looks really out of shape and spends more time joking than dancing. (Poor Maksim, her dance partner, who is normally a tough cookie.) It seems clear she’s going to need her fan base and quick wit to keep her afloat for a few weeks here. (Fellow “Cheers” alum John Ratzenberger surprised everyone with his verve and attitude and made it all the way to week 8.)

Sugar Ray Leonard – He always struck me as charming and charismatic. Though he’s now in his 50s, he also looks like he’s stayed in shape. Former box Evander Holyfield struggled on “DWTS” and Floyd Meriweather came in 9th, but Sugar Ray seems a little looser on the dance floor.

Ralph Macchio – Macchio, thanks to “The Karate Kid,” is a 1980s icon who has had only a few notable acting gigs since then. He’s still very boyish and looks like he’s in reasonably good shape. And maybe those ancient karate moves will translate into dancing moves? (Early rehearsal footage is not terribly encouraging.)

Probably out early

Mike Catherwood – Mike who? He is a co-host of the radio show “Loveline” and has a local show in Los Angeles. Nobody knows who he is, he appears to have no athletic background and will likely follow in the shaky footsteps of Kenny Mayne from season 2 and be out first.  His early rehearsal footage looks painfully bad.

Petra Nemcova - Despite a sad story about her fiance dying the Thailand tsunami, sympathy won’t get her votes. Models have a poor track record on the show. Past models Paulina Porizkova, Shandi Finnessey and Shanna Moakley have all been eliminated in three weeks or less.

Kendra Wilkinson -As one of Hugh Hefner’s girls on “Girls Next Door,” she got her own spin-off show “Kendra” because she came off as sweet and approachable. Whether that translates into votes with “Dancing With the Stars” fans is debatable given the past history of folks like Kim Kardashian (out week three) and fellow “Girls Next Door” alum Holly Madison (out week four).

ON TV

“Dancing With the Stars,” 8 p.m. Monday, debuting March 21 on ABC. No results show Tuesday, March 22. First elimination is Tuesday, March 29.

TV-Talk/186549582672?ref=ts”>my Facebook fan page and Twitter.

By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

15 comments Add your comment

truthpaste

March 21st, 2011
6:36 pm

At least you can call these folks stars.

OH MY!

March 21st, 2011
6:47 pm

Is that the Green Bay Packers team picture?

Sandra

March 21st, 2011
7:46 pm

it’ll be fun to see the dancing.

tara

March 21st, 2011
9:15 pm

love love you kendra your the best

Gloria Harris

March 21st, 2011
10:00 pm

All i have to say GO Kirstie Go

Sandra M.

March 21st, 2011
10:19 pm

Go Kirstie go Kirstie. Best one of the night!

flbravesgirl

March 21st, 2011
10:48 pm

So much for the rehearsal footage. Kirstie & Ralph were the best of the night.

Wita

March 22nd, 2011
8:24 am

Go Wendy Williams that my girl.

Winner

March 22nd, 2011
10:51 am

I’m beginning to like Wendy Williams, but she’s as stiff as chalk.

The Karate Kid did a fabulous job.

Glad to see non-dancing Romeo not go down in defeat like his father of stone, Master P! Man he was butt ugly AWFUL.

I had no doubt Kendra would be fine. I like her. She has spunk.

Kirsti is not as crazy as Cloris Leachman, but she’s walking the same comedic path. She will be very entertaining to watch.

Hines Ward did good, man he has a nice butt (sorry).

Donna P.

March 22nd, 2011
11:14 am

Wendy Williams was so STIFF while she was dancing. It was hiliarious. I’m rooting for Kirstie and Ralph (the old folks).

RJ's Wife

March 22nd, 2011
11:17 am

Wendy needs to really stop being so uptight and just go with the flow…Kirstie was good, Kendra was very disappointing, Romeo will get better as time goes on..I just enjoy watching the show all together. Have a great day everyone :)

Lyla Singfield

March 22nd, 2011
12:01 pm

Hines Ward has a phenomenal butt, Winner. That is why I will be rooting for him, and Chris Jericho’s hotness.

BYRDDAWG

March 22nd, 2011
1:00 pm

HINES WARD!!!!!! WOOF WOOF WOOF

Shaniqua McNiqua Ghettomess

March 23rd, 2011
10:18 am

My girl Wendy rocked da house yo!!

GO girl let the haters hate

Really??

March 29th, 2011
9:28 am

Week 2: Romeo, drop the ego son..you aint all that. Focus on dancing instead of trying to get laid
Wendy, cant even stand to hear you speak let alone try and dance
Petra, She will go far, great story and not a snobby model
Kirstie, 60yrs old, little thick, but I love her
Ralph, classy, and driven, will go far
Chris, GAY..enough said
Mike, a true NON dancer, but funny as hell, hope he stays around
Hines, Very good dancer, will be in final 3
Chelsea, eye candy, and the usual Disney character
Kendra, nice hoots white trash