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Steve Urkel, Laura Ingalls and pip-less Gladys Knight among new names on Dancing with the Stars



1330435902_dwts-467.jpgWhat you notice first when looking over the new cast of ABC's Dancing with the Stars is a glorious absence of one thing:

Reality TV stars.

Instead, ABC has turned away from the likes of The Situation and Rob Kardashian to present a more usual collection of faded past TV stars (Melissa Gilbert, Jack Wagner, Jaleel White), sports figures (Martina Navratilova, Donald Driver), singers (Gavin DeGraw, Gladys Knight, Katherine Jenkins) and youth stars (Roshan Fegan, William Levy).

Gone are the tabloidy types who may have fueled gossip magazine coverage but also helped the show feel a little more tawdry and desperate. But it remains to be seen how viewers will bond with this new crew, especially given new competition from NBC's singing contest The Voice on Monday nights.

There are no comedians or news magnets such as Chaz Bono or Nancy Grace, which may not be the smartest move, given the show crowned one of its least-known winners last cycle in wounded soldier-turned soap star J. R. Martinez.

But Dancing's demands have a way of bringing out the diva in everyone (speaking of, glad to see rumors professional dancer Maksim Chmekovskiy wouldn't return were false; his hissy fits always lift the show when things get too boring).

The cast was announced this morning on Good Morning America. The list is below.

GAVIN DeGRAW -- Gavin DeGraw first broke through with the 2003 release of his debut album, “Chariot,” which sold over a million copies. His third studio album, “Sweeter,” and first single, “Not Over You,” was just certified platinum. GAVIN DeGRAW partners with last season’s champ, KARINA SMIRNOFF, who returns for her 11th season.

DONALD DRIVER -- Donald Driver has overcome a childhood of homelessness and overcome obstacles to become a Super Bowl champion and the All-Time Leading Receiver in Green Bay Packers history. He recently read his latest book, Quickie Wins a Championship, at the Library of Congress at an event that featured First Lady Michelle Obama. DONALD DRIVER joins PETA MURGATROYD, who is returning for her second season as a professional partner.

ROSHON FEGAN -- Most widely recognized for his roles on Disney Channel, this musical artist, songwriter, producer and actor currently stars on the Disney Channel original series “Shake It Up!” as Ty Blue. ROSHON FEGAN teams with CHELSIE HIGHTOWER, who is returning for her 6th season.

MELISSA GILBERT -- A native of Los Angeles, Melissa Gilbert comes from a long line of entertainers including her grandfather, Harry Crane, creator and writer of “The Honeymooners." At age 9, she joined the cast of “Little House on the Prairie,” continuing with the popular series for 10 years. Gilbert served two terms as the 23rd President of Screen Actors Guild, two terms as Vice President on the AFL-CIO executive council, as Vice President for the California Labor Federation, as a commissioner on the California Film Commission and as chair of the 2005 SAG Theatrical/Television Negotiating Committee. MELISSA GILBERT partners with MAKSIM CHMERKOVSKIY, who returns for his 12th season.

KATHERINE JENKINS -- Katherine Jenkins is the world’s most prolific classical crossover artist. The Welsh mezzo soprano has sold in excess of seven million albums since launching her career in 2004. KATHERINE JENKINS joins two-time champ MARK BALLAS, who is returning for his 10th season.

GLADYS KNIGHT -- Eight-time Grammy winner Gladys Knight has enjoyed No. 1 hits in pop, R&B and Adult Contemporary, and has triumphed in film, television and live performance. A longtime Las Vegas resident, Knight returned to the Strip this past year at the famed Tropicana Hotel for a special engagement that ran in the newly named Gladys Knight Theater, making her the first African-American performer to have a venue named after her in Las Vegas. GLADYS KNIGHT partners with TRISTAN MCMANUS, who returns as a professional partner for his second season.

WILLIAM LEVY -- Levy was born in Cuba and very early on knew he would go after his dreams, even if it meant leaving his beloved country and risking his life. By age 15, Levy was living in Miami, Florida, where he attended high school and learned to speak English. Levy’s big break came in 2007, when he was personally chosen by famed Televisa producer Carla Estrada to play the role of Vasco Darien in “Pasion,” an epic novela production set in Mexico’s colonial period. He now stars in “Triunfo del Amor,” (Univision) the No. 1 rated telenovela on TV. He currently resides between Los Angeles, Mexico City and Miami, FL. WILLIAM LEVY partners with two-time champ CHERYL BURKE, who returns for her 13th season.

MARIA MENOUNOS -- Actress, author and the host of “EXTRA,” Maria Menounos’ story began cleaning Boston nightclubs alongside her Greek immigrant parents from age of 3, and not learning to speak English until she was 10. At 22 she became the youngest person to host “Entertainment Tonight,” and would later report for “Today,” “Dateline” and “Nightly News.” MARIA MENOUNOS joins three-time champ DEREK HOUGH, who is returning for his 9th season.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA -- Born in Prague in 1956, Navratilova is the most dominant tennis player ever to set foot on the court. She is the only player in history to win Grand Slam titles in four different decades, including a curtain-closing U.S. Open victory in mixed-doubles at age 49. MARTINA NAVRATILOVA teams with TONY DOVOLANI, who returns for a 13th season.

SHERRI SHEPHERD – Sherri Shepherd is an actress, comedienne and co-host of ABC’s hugely popular daytime talk show, “The View.” SHERRI SHEPHERD partners with VAL CHMERKOVSKIY, who is returning for his second season as a professional partner.
JACK WAGNER – An actor of daytime and primetime television and the stage, Jack Wagner is one of the most popular stars in the history of soaps.  JACK WAGNER joins ANNA TREBUNSKAYA, who returns for her 9th season.

JALEEL WHITE -- Jaleel White is best known for his portrayal of Steve Urkel/Stefan Urquelle on ABC’s long-running series, “Family Matters.” The series is one of 22 shows in television history to reach 200 episodes. JALEEL WHITE teams with two-time champ KYM JOHNSON, who returns for her 11th season.

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 1:55pm]


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