Wynonna Judd, Andy Dick top Dancing with the Stars cast; biggest news may be who isn't there
Even though ABC's Dancing with the Stars just announced 11 new boldfaced names taking on its challenge, the big news lies in who won't be coming back.
Towering hunk Maksim Chmerkovskiy -- whose outsize ego, brusque style and penchant for tantrums livened up even the sleepiest seasons -- won't return to ABC's reality TV hit, confirmed by the list of participants released by the network this morning. Longtime dancers Chelsie Hightower, Louis Van Amstel and Anna Trebunskaya also won't be back.
Unveiled on Good Morning America today, the cast list reveals the show's ongoing difficulty in attracting marquee-level talent. Country star Wynonna Judd, comic-turned-tabloid news casualty Andy Dick, comic D.L. Hughley and 56-year-old ex-Olympian Dorothy Hamill are among the biggest names in a cast awfully short on pop culture buzz.
Otherwise, the show is filled with a typical collection of sorta "stars" aimed at the show's middle-aged female demographic : reality TV participants (Real Housewives Lisa Vanderpump), athletes (boxer Victor Ortiz, Olympic gymnast Ali Rasman, NFL wide receiver Jacoby Jones) and actors from a soap and a Disney show. They get their first-ever American Idol alum in Kellie Pickler (a non-winner from a show which has its own ratings challenges) and youngest participant ever in 16-year-old Disney kid Zendaya Coleman.
On the show since Season Two, Chmerkovskiy never won the show's coveted mirror ball trophy. Still, the Ukranian dancer was a key castmember; not just for his sex appeal to the show's mostly female viewership, but for his ability to earn headlines with outrageous behavior.
His dances with partner Erin Andrews led to constant rumors they were romantically linked -- which both denied -- while his fights with celebrity basket case Kirstie Alley helped her become one of the show's most popular dancers.
"I just want to set the record straight to all of my amazing fans that I will unfortunately not be returning for this season of Dancing with the Stars," Chemerkoskiy said in a statement quoted by People magazine. "I've been a pro dancer on the show for about seven years now and am eager to explore other opportunities that have been made possible because of Dancing with the Stars. I'm going to take this time to dive into producing and acting, while fulfilling my sponsorship obligations."
Coming back to new episodes March 18, DWTS faces an uphill battle with its biggest newsmaker in the wind.
Check out the full list, with partners, below.
Wynonna Judd, country music star; with Tony Dovolani.
D.L. Hughley, comic, with Cheryl Burke.
Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens wide receiver, with Karina Smirnoff.
Lisa Vanderpump, “Real Housewife of Beverly Hills” star, with new dancer Gleb Savchenko.
Andy Dick, comic and tabloid news star, with new dancer Sharna Burgess.
Victor Ortiz, pro boxer, with Lindsay Arnold.
Zendaya Coleman, Disney's Shake It Up (at age 16, the show's youngest contestant), with Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
Ali Raisman, Olympic gymnast, with Mark Ballas.
Ingo Rademacher, actor on General Hospital, with Kym Johnson.
Kellie Pickler, American Idol contestant and country artist, with Derek Hough.
Dorothy Hamill, onetime figure skating chamption (at 56, she's oldest contestant this season), with Tristan MacManus.