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'Dancing With the Stars': Ranking the cast

Well, I sure picked the wrong two weeks to go on vacation, what with all the cast announcements and American Idol news and so forth. Sheesh!

I might have missed the news (such as it is) when it broke, but I'm back to give my take on the new DWTS cast, even though I'm totally in denial about it starting again on Monday. *deep breaths*

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Audrina Patridge: One of The Hills stars, Audrina is yet another DWTS contestant whose fame comes from having been on other reality television shows. Prone, as are most of The Hills stars, to subdued understatement, it's kind of hard to picture Audrina engaging the audience and getting down with the get down. But I've been surprised before. Like totally.

Michael Bolton: You just know, right, that when Michael Bolton eventually gets kicked off DWTS that they'll play "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?" It's like a rule or something. Not so sure how the white-bread crooner will do on the dance floor, but he's got a built-in soundtrack for all the romantic dances.

Brandy: The pop star has been in a number of music videos, but does that mean she can actually dance? Even if she can, we'll be sure to get lots of interview footage of her saying that ballroom and Latin dancing are "completely different" from whatever previous experience she has.

Bristol Palin: Famous for being the daughter of Alaska Gov./VP candidate Sarah Palin -- and for her tabloid on-again, off-again romance with the father of her child -- Bristol Palin is I guess going for an image makeover by appearing on DWTS. As happens with all DWTS contestants with political ties, I'm sure that if I criticize her dancing, I'll be accused of making some sort of political statement. Great! Looking so forward to it!

Margaret Cho: The sassy comedian is probably the contestant most likely to cause the watchers of the bleep button to lose sleep at night. Can she move? Only time will tell.

Rick Fox: A retired basketball player and sometime actor (he portrayed the inmate Jackson Vahue on HBO's Oz and had a role in Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns), Fox should have the goods to move well on his feet and interact with the audience.

Florence Henderson: Can Carol Brady dance? That sentence makes me think of Elaine Benes for some reason. But Florence will probably bring the wacky factor, a la Cloris Leachman.

Jennifer Grey: Yes, Jennifer "Dirty Dancing" Grey. Not that you would think that from this photo. She should be able to dance -- at least to "I've Had the Time of My Life" -- but I wonder whether people will be too distracted by her altered appearance to focus on her footwork.

Kurt Warner: The retired quarterback is widely known for his storied football career, going from being a supermarket clerk making $5.50 an hour to an NFL MVP in a short period of time. But again, it comes down to (again): Can he dance? No clue, but he's certainly likable and will have a strong fan base going into the DWTS season.

Kyle Massey: There's always someone in the "who the heck is that?" category for me, and this year that happens to overlap with the Disney kid category. Evidently Kyle is an actor and, according to Wikipedia anyway, a rapper, and is best known for appearing in "That's so Raven." Not sure what to expect. Incidentally, in one of my first posts on this blog, I got an email from a family member of season two's "who the heck is that?" contestant admonishing me for not knowing who she was. Wow, that was a long time ago.

David Hasselhoff: Everyone's favorite Baltimore-born former Baywatch star survived his departure as a judge on America's Got Talent pretty well since he immediately turned around and got cast on DWTS. There's no doubt The Hoff will be wacky, unpredictable and entertaining -- but will he be able to dance? Will it matter? If his dance partner offers him a cheeseburger, she'll probably be able to get him to do anything.

The Situation: There's no fist-pumping in ballroom dancing! So does that mean Jersey Shore star Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is going to be horrible or awesome? I think it's about 50-50. One thing we know for sure: He won't need his dance partner to familiarize him with spray tanner! And another thing: He'll probably beat Maksim Chmerkovskiy as "most likely to appear on stage shirtless." Also, I'm sad that the square crop of this photo required me to chop off half his orchestrated hairdo.

What do you think about this season's contenders? Sound off in the comments!

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