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'Dancing With the Stars': 4th season premiere

Dancing With the Stars kicks off its fourth season tonight with a bunch of not-exactly-A-list celebs learning some moves and competing for votes. Let's see how it goes.

The show starts out letting the pros show off their moves without the limitations of amateurs, to the tune of "Ballroom Blitz." There are some familiar faces and some new ones among the dancers. We'll get to know them well soon enough. Here are the pairings:

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  • Ian Ziering and Cheryl Burke.
  • Paulina Porizkova and Alec Mazo.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff.
  • Leeza Gibbons and Tony Dovolani.
  • Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson.
  • Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
  • John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinska.
  • Shandi Finnessey and Brian Fortuna.
  • Clyde Drexler and Elena Grinenko.
  • Heather Mills and Jonathan Roberts.
  • Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough.

Some first impressions: Clyde Drexler looks vaguely terrified, and Heather Mills looks like her costume designer had superheroes on the brain.

This season, the contestants only had four weeks to train, but they get to perform for two weeks before there is a results show to worry about. That's not a bad trade-off. This evening, the women will perform the foxtrot, and the guys will do the cha cha cha.

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Ian and Cheryl are up first. Ian says he is doing the show to make his parents proud. He is described as an actor and Broadway star, so he should have some dancing chops to start with, right? They cha cha cha to "Mony Mony." Cheryl is wearing one of the tiniest dresses in this show's history, which is saying something. They seem to do pretty well, as far as I can tell. Ian looks pleased, and Cheryl gives him a huge hug. Len Goodman says he wants to see fun, hip action, interplay -- and he tells Cheryl she's lucky because she keeps getting really good partners. Bruno Tonioli says they got "the cherry on the cake." He tells Ian to get more down with his hips, "go see a Chippendale's show or something." Carrie Ann Inaba says she didn't think the beginning was going to be good, "but you proved me wrong." The scores (in Carrie-Len-Bruno order) are: 7, 7 and 7, for 21/30.

Paulina and Alec are next. She says she is known for being a 1980s supermodel, but that she is very clumsy. At their first meeting, Alec tells her, "My dad has a lot of pinups of you." Well, way to start off on the right foot there, dude. "Does your grandfather have some, too?" They do the foxtrot to "Too Darn Hot." She doesn't look clumsy at all, and her flowy dress looks gorgeous. Len says she has "musical arms," but her posture wasn't quite right. Carrie Ann says she has great potential, but they had a little awkwardness. Bruno says she has "class oozing from every pore. ... You look like you have breakfast, lunch and dinner at Tiffany." (Oh, Bruno! How we've missed you!) The scores: 6, 6 and 7 for a 19/30.

Billy Ray and Karina seem like an interesting pairing. He calls himself a "left-footed hillbilly from Kentucky." Karina says he's very insecure. He says he's very shy except when he's singing, and he hopes "that guy" shows up on the dance floor. They cha cha cha to "I Want My Mullet Back." Karina breaks out her first wig. He's a little flaily. At the end, it looks like he was supposed to rip off her wig, but it's attached to her head. Yeowch. Carrie Ann says she doesn't know where to begin. She says it was rock and roll, but NOT the cha cha cha. Bruno says, "You were like a crazy bear lost in a swamp." Oh, good one. That is far more evocative than "flaily." He says there isn't anything to critique because it wasn't a cha cha. Len says it was a hoedown, not a cha cha cha. (Miley doesn't look too happy in the audience.) The scores: 5, 4 and 4, for a 13/30.

Leeza and Tony are next. Leeza is the oldest woman on the show this season. She is the perfect match for this cheesy show. They foxtrot to "Strangers in the Night." She looks a little stiff, but otherwise it's pretty good. Bruno tells her to relax, that she danced the foxtrot like "it was the edge of the Grand Canyon." Len says technically it was very good, that her footwork and elegance were lovely, but that she needs to relax. Carrie Ann tells her she brought the character of the dance to life. The scores: 5, 5, and 5, for a 15/30.

Joey and Kym are next. Awww, Kym gets a partner who can dance this time! He is hoping to lose some of the weight he's put on since the N'SYNC days, though. They cha cha cha to "You Should be Dancing" by the Bee Gees and have a great time, though I wonder if it follows all the cha cha rules. I get distracted for a bit when something is flying around Joey -- turns out it's his microphone pack come loose. Carrie Ann says she thinks the competition just began. Len says, "The path to glory starts here, and you've just taken an enormous step forward." (Not to overstate the importance of the competition, of course.) "That was really, really good." Bruno says this is what it was all about. (Is it just me, or in the footage of the contestants backstage leading into the break, does it seem like no one wants to talk to Heather Mills?) The scores: 8, 8 and 8 for a 24/30.

Laila and Maksim are up. Maksim says his job is to turn her into a ladylike woman. They foxtrot to "How Sweet It Is." She looks pretty graceful out there for someone who was worried about that. Bruno says the foxtrot was "oozing sex appeal and allure." He says she had ease of movement. Carrie Ann says she has a lot of fluidity and strength. Len says, "Float like a butterfly, glide like a swan." The scores: 7, 8 and 8, for a 23/30.

John and Edyta are next on the floor. He says he's doing this for all the Boomers. They had only two weeks to train together because Vincent Pastore dropped out of the competition. They cha cha cha to "Chain of Fools." He starts out a little stompy, but soon he's moving his feet much faster than I thought he would. Carrie Ann says it was a surprisingly good, that he had great musicality, was light on his feet and was very charismatic. Len says he was dreading it, but that it was a good job for two weeks' training. Bruno says he started out with some hesitation, but he kicked in soon and did a very good job. The scores: 6, 5 and 6, for a 17/30. John: "Two of those numbers are upside-down."

Shandi and Brian are introduced to us next. She calls herself a geek, and says she feels gangly a lot of the time. They foxtrot to "Power of Love." She doesn't look too gangly at all. Bruno: "It's Barbie and Ken live in your living room!" He says it was a good effort, but she needs to watch her extensions. Carrie Ann said her upper body was great, but her lower half needed a lot of work. Len agrees that they sold it, but it was a little bit aggressive, but it was a good job. The scores: 6, 6 and 7, for a 19/30.

Clyde and Elena have the distinct challenge of his 6-foot-7 height, but the plus is he is "Clyde the Glide." (I have to admit up front my fondness for Clyde since he played for Houston and Portland, both of my hometowns.) They cha cha cha to "I Was Made to Love Her." His footwork retains some of the glide, but he seems pretty nervous. Carrie Ann says he was smooth on his feet, but that he should use his height, and own it, that he was "dancing a little small." Len says it was a charming performance that gave him so much pleasure. Bruno says he could charm the pants off America, but that he didn't do enough, and that he has the talent to use the floor and sell it. The scores: 6, 5 and 6, for a 17/30.

Heather and Jonathan meet next. She says she has no dance background. She also says she hopes to inspire other people who are missing limbs to show them what they can accomplish. They foxtrot to "Cheek to Cheek." Her dress looks better on the floor than it did backstage, which I guess is what it was designed for. In case you had placed a bet, no, her prosthetic leg does not come off during the performance. Len says there was far more right about the performance than there was wrong. Bruno says she has more guts than Rambo. He tells her to watch her hands and her frame in the hold. Carrie Ann says she needs to show less tension in her shoulders when she starts to worry about her leg. The scores: 6, 6 and 6, for an 18/30.

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Apolo and Julianne are up. Apolo says he is used to competing. Julianne is 18 and the youngest professional ever on the show. Apolo had to take some time off for some skating competitions, which left them with less training time than the others. He says he is going to do his best to not look like a disaster, followed by a clip of Julianne slamming him in the face with an elbow during a turn. Ow. They cha cha cha to "Let's Hear It for the Boy." No, he is not a disaster, at all. And they both look like they are having a fabulous time. Bruno says he is a joy to watch: "It's like watching Happy Feet all over again." He says he has the highest potential of everyone thus far, despite some technical mistakes. Carrie Ann says for a minute she thought he was the boy-band guy. Len says his concern is the quick step next week because his posture isn't great, but that the cha cha cha was great. The scores: 7, 7 and 7, for a 21/30.

Addendum, since I am getting some emails about this: If you are trying to vote online, the link is here.

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