It's a sad, sad day when you miss the days of Bristol Palin. ABC announced the newest cast of Dancing With the Stars last night during its broadcast of Bachelor Pad, which at least knows its contestants are there specifically for ridicule. But the real shame came with the incredibly unimpressive list of dozen "Stars" that will compete in this year's waltz-off:
David Arquette: Scream actor and frequent Howard Stern guest whose career never got any hotter than "Courteney Cox's husband."
Ron Artest: Los Angeles Laker who became public enemy number one for his role in the "Malice at the Palace," in which he ran into the stands and punched a fan in the face. Despite his troubled past, he was this year's recipient of the NBA's citizenship award for his charitable work.
Chaz Bono: Born Chastity Bono, Chaz underwent gender transition treatment and is a strong voice in the transgender community. He is the offspring of Sonny and Cher.
Elisabetta Canalis: How famous is George Clooney? Famous enough to make people who have dated him famous.
Kristin Cavallari: A reality star best known for Laguna Beach and The Hills. She hasn't done much since the latter went off the air in 2010.
Rob Kardashian: Kim's not famous brother.
Carson Kressley: One of the original hosts of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, token gay participant.
Nancy Grace: Outspoken legal and political talking head, red-state magnet.
Ricki Lake: Hairspray actress, former talk-show host.
J.R. Martinez: Former Army soldier, current actor on ABC's All My Children.
Chynna Phillips: Remember that song that goes, "Don't you know... things can change, things can go your way... if you hooooooold on for one more day..."? She sang that. She's now married to William Baldwin.
Hope Solo: The goalie for the U.S. Women's Soccer team that made the finals of this year's World Cup.
Are you completely blinded by the star power of this year's cast? Last year's lineup was thought of as a snoozer, but at least it had The Karate Kid and a Playmate. This year the top billing has to go to Nancy Grace, just out of sheer curiosity over whether or not she'll name-call the judges after a bad score. Including Chaz Bono falls somewhere between noble gesture to an unrepresented community and embarrassing attempt to draw gawkers. You can just imagine the process that goes into assembling this batch as producers scramble to meet color quotas and target demographics.
Of course, each year a participant rises to the top with a combination of charming and insane personality, so who knows. But if the idea behind this crew was to get us excited for the season, consider it mission unaccomplished.
For my money, season 11 had the best cast, imploring a mix of washed-up vets, tabloid lightning rods, and the desperate (sometimes all three in one package). Hasselhoff, Bristol Palin, The Situation, Michael Bolton, Jennifer Grey, the Brady mom, Brandy, and Kurt Warner? Now that's star power! Well, by Dancing With the Stars terms.
Who do you think will win this year's Dancing With the Stars?