Nancy Grace, David Arquette, Ron Artest and George Clooney's ex-girlfriend top new Dancing with the Stars cast
By now, we should all be feeling a little bit like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football away.
Like that hapless round-headed nerd, we're promised year after year that this is the season Dancing with the Stars will live up to its name, and a draft a field of competitors everyone has heard of. And every cycle, twice yearly, fans find themselves rushing to Google after the cast announcement to figure out exactly who half these "stars" are supposed to be.
Acerbic cable host Nancy Grace may be the biggest name on tap this time around, followed quickly by talk show host Ricki Lake and locked out NBA player Ron Artest. There's faded stars such as songstress Chynna Phillips; there's people famous by relationship, like former Mr. Courteney Cox, David Arquette, reality TV sibling Rob Kardashian, George Clooney's onetime girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis and son of Sonny and Cher, Chaz Bono (or the transgender guy formerly known as the girl Chastity).
(Speaking of star power, how A-list is it to be so famous your ex-girlfriends qualify for Dancing with the Stars?)
Former Queer Eye for the Straight Guy co-host Carson Kressley may be the second most unlikely competitor, behind wounded Iraq War veteran-turned-motivational speaker J.R. Martinez, still bearing scars from burns over 40 percent of his body. Soccer player Hope Solo and former Laguna Beach and The Hills star Kristin Cavallari round out the dozen competitors.
Notable changes this year: no straight-up comedians (past contestant Margaret Cho has said she suspects the show doesn't like comics), no senior citizen contestants and no teen youth stars. Instead, Bono brings controversy as a former woman who will now dance with a female partner because he's legally male, while Martinez will have to use his energy and charisma to overcome his battered appearance.
The cast was announced live over two different commercials breaks during ABC's dim-witted unscripted soap Bachelor Pad. Artest bounded onstage doffing his shirt, while reporters from Good Morning America and People magazine tossed softball questions in a clunky manufactured press conference.
"I think it will be easier to report on the live news than to be the live news, such as falling on your booty" Grace said, cackling a bit. "So let's try to avoid that."
According to an ABC release: "All 12 couples will dance for the first time on live national television on MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, either performing the Cha Cha Cha or The Viennese Waltz. Airing on TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET.), a live, one-hour special, “Dancing with the Stars: Meet the Cast,” will feature the most exciting moments from Monday night’s performances, with commentary from the judges and never-before-seen footage from the teams’ first weeks of training. Then, on the season premiere of “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show,” TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER, 20 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET), the couple with the lowest combined judges’ scores and public votes for their performance will be sent home in the season’s first elimination."
Below are key dates for Season 13 (dates and times subject to change):
• “Dancing with the Stars’” two-hour season premiere, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET)
• “Dancing with Stars: Meet the Cast” one-hour special, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET)
• “Dancing with the Stars the Results Show” one-hour season premiere, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 (9:00-10:01 p.m., ET)
• “Dancing with the Stars’” season finale, NOVEMBER 2011 (date TBA).
Look below for more complete bios on the competitors:
DAVID ARQUETTE -- David Arquette is an actor, writer, director, producer and soon to be dancer. In 1997 Arquette was discovered at Sundance for his role in “Johns.” Since that time, he has acted in dozens of feature films, including the “Scream” films, “Hamlet 2,” “The Grey Zone,” “Dream with the Fishes,” “Never Die Alone” and “The Darwin Awards.” This year he reprised his role as Deputy “Dewey” Riley in the much anticipated fourth installment of the “Scream” films. In January 2003, Arquette formed a production company, Coquette Productions, with Courteney Cox. Also under the Coquette banner he produced the F/X drama “Dirt” and ABC’s “Cougar Town,” with Bill Lawrence, which Arquette executive produces along with Cox, who stars.
HOPE SOLO -- Hope Solo is widely considered the best goalkeeper in the world and has been the starter for the United States women’s national team since 2005. She scored 109 goals as a high school forward before moving to goal at the University of Washington near her hometown of Richland, Washington.
RON ARTEST -- Born in Queensbridge, New York, Ron Artest is currently a member of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and a father to four children. He was signed to a five-year contract by the L.A. Lakers as a free agent in 2009 and has been playing professional basketball in the NBA since 1999.
CHAZ BONO -- Chaz Bono is an LGBT rights advocate, three time author, speaker and the only child of famed entertainers Sonny and Cher. His decision to come out as a Lesbian in 1995 prompted his public work in support of LGBT rights and social justice. Chaz has contributed as a writer-at-large to The Advocate and, in 1996, became the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Day spokesperson. He also served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and has spoken at dozens of universities and LGBT events. An acclaimed author, he has written three books, including Transition, which was released by Dutton on May 10th. Transition is his groundbreaking and candid account of a 40-year struggle to match his gender identity with his physical body. He has most recently shared his life and experiences in the three-time Emmy nominated documentary, “Becoming Chaz.” Premiering to standing ovations at this year’s Sundance, “Becoming Chaz” had its world television premiere on May 10, 2011 on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Chaz continues to create visibility, raise awareness and effect change for LGBT issues. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his fiancé, Jennifer Elia.
ELISABETTA CANALIS – Known for her gorgeous figure and striking expressions, Elisabetta Canalis became an instantly recognizable figure in the world of high fashion and advertising. She has worked with some of the greatest fashion icons, including Roberto Cavalli, and has graced such magazine covers as Vogue, Vanity Fair, GQ and Cosmopolitan. Canalis currently resides in Los Angeles, California and Milan, Italy but she loves coming back to Sardinia, the island where she was born and where part of her family lives.
KRISTIN CAVALLARI -- Born in Denver, Colorado, Kristin Cavallari moved to California with her brother and father as a high school junior when the first season of “Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County” began production for MTV. She was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 2006 for Choice Reality Star. After completing two successful years on the hit show, Cavallari switched gears to focus on a career in acting. From 2006-2009 she starred in such films as “Van Wilder: Freshman Year,” “Green Flash,” “Spring Breakdown” and “Wild Cherry,” alongside Rumer Willis and Rob Schneider. Next she played a guest role on “CSI: NY,” and most recently on ABC’s “The Middle.” Her new spring shoe, named Bardot, will be available in summer of 2011.
NANCY GRACE -- An outspoken, tireless advocate for victims’ rights and one of TV’s most respected legal analysts, Nancy Grace is the powerful force behind HLN’s top-rated “Nancy Grace.” A former prosecutor with an unparalleled record of success, Grace’s life changed forever in 1979 when her fiancé, Keith Griffin, was shot and killed. She abandoned plans to become an English professor and turned to criminal justice. Her first book, Objection!, became an instant New York Times bestseller, as did her two subsequent novels, The Eleventh Victim and Death on the D-List. A television movie adaptation of The Eleventh Victim is currently in development. Grace initially came to TV from the Atlanta Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, where she served for over a decade as a felony prosecutor of violent crimes. Known for her authentic sensibility and her firebrand take on the justice system, she was tapped to co-host Court TV’s “Cochran and Grace,” and later, the live daily trial coverage program, “Closing Arguments.” Grace, her husband and her twins reside in Atlanta and New York City.
ROB KARDASHIAN -- Born in Los Angeles, California, Rob Kardashian is the fourth child and only son of the late attorney Robert Kardashian and Kris Jenner; he has five sisters, Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner. He stars in the No. 1 hit reality television show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” and also stars in the hit series for E!, “Khloe & Lamar.”
CARSON KRESSLEY -- Emmy-winning television star, celebrity stylist, author and fashion designer Carson Kressley is currently starring in “Carson-Nation,” a one-hour reality show on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, in which he travels to small towns throughout the U.S., transforming lives one person at a time. Previously, Kressley helmed Lifetime’s critically-acclaimed “How to Look Good Naked,” and earned a primetime Emmy for his role on Bravo’s breakout hit series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” He hosted ABC’s “True Beauty” from executive producers Tyra Banks and Ashton Kutcher, the WB series “Crowned,” as well as “Your Own Show: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star” on OWN. When he is not working, he can be found on one of his American Saddlebred show horses, with which he has achieved World Champion status.
RICKI LAKE -- Poised to return to daytime television with the all-new “The Ricki Lake Show” in the fall of 2012, Ricki Lake is a pop culture icon who has built a career on her candid, “straight talk” sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature. As Tracy Turnblad, the zaftig heroine of the original John Waters’ film “Hairspray,” Lake made an acting debut that positioned her as an “entertainer to watch” in Hollywood. Lake starred in John Waters’ “Cry Baby,” opposite Johnny Depp, and “Serial Mom,” alongside Kathleen Turner. Other notable appearances include the contemporary classic “Working Girl,” the acclaimed drama “Last Exit to Brooklyn,” the romantic comedy “Mrs. Winterbourne,” opposite Shirley MacLaine and Brendan Fraser, and “Where the Day Takes You,” opposite Dermot Mulroney. She also starred in the CBS film “Babycakes” and the popular television series “China Beach” and “The King of Queens.”
J.R. MARTINEZ -- J.R. Martinez is an Iraq War veteran, motivational speaker and actor on ABC’s “All My Children.” In April 2003, at 19 years of age, Martinez was serving as a humvee driver for the United States Army in Iraq when his left front tire hit a landmine. He suffered smoke inhalation and burns to more than 40 percent of his body. He was immediately evacuated and sent to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, TX, where he spent 34 months in recovery. Since his injury, Martinez has undergone 33 different surgeries, including skin grafts and cosmetic surgery. In October 2008, he joined the cast of ABC’s Emmy® Award-winning daytime drama, “All My Children,” as combat veteran Brot Monroe. He continues to balance his motivational speaking engagements and charity work with his acting. He is also busy working on his memoir. Born in Shreveport, LA, Martinez moved to Hope, AZ, where he and his mother lived until he was 17. They moved to Dalton, GA, just prior to his senior year, the place he proudly calls his hometown.
CHYNNA PHILLIPS -- Wife, mother, singer/songwriter, actress, philanthropist and entrepreneur, Chynna Phillips has been surrounded by Hollywood since she first entered this world. Born to musicians John and Michelle Phillips of famed 60’s group The Mamas and The Papas, Chynna began her acting career appearing in John Hughes’ 1982 teen-sensation, “Some Kind of Wonderful.” She followed up with roles in 1988’s “Caddyshack II,” 1989’s “Say Anything,” and played the character Roxanne Pulitzer in the 1989 TV biopic, “Roxanne: The Prize Pulitzer.” Next Phillips, along with childhood friends Carnie & Wendy Wilson, formed the trio Wilson Phillips. In 1990 the group released their self-titled debut album which would go on to sell ten million copies worldwide, go 5x multi-platinum, with three No. 1 singles. Earlier this year, it was announced that Wilson Phillips would be reuniting again for an album of original music to celebrate their 20 years together as a musical group. The group was also featured in this year’s blockbuster comedy film, “Bridesmaids.”