DwtS 5 First Impressions

DwtS 5’s cast includes a smorgasbord of celebrities. Here’s my take on this Fall’s eclectic cast of dancing hopefuls.

Supermodel hotties Albert Reed, 22, and Josie Maran, 29, bring some great eye candy to the dance floor, but do they have the moves? These two catwalk strutters, most familiar for their print-ad portfolios, both garner checkmarks in the "unknown" column for me. Albert, who hails from Miami, was a competitive surfer in his teens, so I am guessing that he must have a well-honed sense of balance — a valuable skill in this type of competition. Josie at one time had a long-term relationship with magician David Blaine, though she is currently linked with photographer/fledgling director Ali Alborzi. I’m anticipating that she’ll have a few unexpected tricks up her sleeve!

Marie Osmond, 47, and Wayne Newton, 65, successfully fill the "seasoned" entertainer slots. Both register high on the likeability scale: Marie, courtesy of her popular 70’s show and her work with the Children’s Miracle Network; Wayne, thanks to his almost 50-year reign as Mr Las Vegas. I mean, honestly, is there anyone out there who hasn’t heard "Danke Schoen" at least once? Wayne will likely keep many nostalgic seniors up past their regular bedtime, while Marie is sure to attract countless viewers in their 40s and 50s. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her brother, Donny, featured as one of the Results Show performers — provided Marie lasts long enough in the competition. Will a DwtS doll be her next promoted product on the QVC network?

Melanie Brown, 32, and Sabrina Bryan, 23, by the time the show airs, — and to a lesser degree Jane Seymour, 56, and Mark Cuban, 49 — have dance credentials that elevate them above the novice level. Melanie’s previous performance experience and current preparations for the Spice Girls reunion tour in December and January mean that Mel B is already prepped to heat up the stage. Her recent tabloid-featured paternity battle with comedian and total sleaze ball Eddie Murphy should earn her a respectable number of sympathy votes.

Meanwhile, Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan certainly seems to have a leg up on the rest of the field. In early 2006, Sabrina released her own fitness-dance DVD, Byou, she currently has Byou II in the works with a Spring 2008 release date. She lists herself as a dancer, singer, and actress on her website. Then again, this Disney Channel star failed to register on my celebrity radar. Will her fan base be loyal enough to tune-in to DwtS and then heat up the phone lines? If Hannah Montana star Billy Ray Cyrus’ longevity last season is any indication of the commitment level of the Disney Channel crowd, then Sabrina’s popularity and talent could pose a serious threat this season.

Veteran actress, Jane Seymour, brings a touch of class to this year’s contingent – she even has her own 15th century castle in Bath England. Jane studied ballet quite seriously as a youngster. At just 13 she made her professional debut with the London Festival Ballet. Four years later, at age 17, Jane danced with Russia’s renowned Kirov Ballet. A knee injury sustained during her first performance with the Kirov troupe put an end to her dancing career. Nevertheless, with over 10 years of intense dance training under her belt, Jane probably still retains the musicality, flexibility, and work ethic that DwtS competitors need to be successful. The only question seems to be whether her physical limitations will resurface and impede her progress.

Dot-com billionaire Mark Cuban rounds out this quartet of dance veterans. His dancing expertise comes from his stint as a disco dance instructor during his college years, which helped fund his education. This successful entrepreneur holds the distinction of being DwtS‘s first billionaire. Does this title mean that if worse comes to worse Mark could resort to bribing the judges or buying votes?! He certainly has the funds and the Internet wherewithal to get his name out there in a BIG way.

The thirtysomethings crowd is well represented by the four remaining contestants: Jennie Garth, 35, Cameron Mathison, 38, Helio Castroneves, 32, and Floyd Mayweather Jr., 30. These individuals all bring their own dedicated group of fans to the table. The most well known (at least to me) is Jennie Garth, a popular Beverly Hills, 90210 star. Cameron, a resident heartthrob on All My Children, pulls in a fairly substantial soap opera delegation, according to Internet chatter. He’s also the only homegrown Canadian representative, which earns him mega brownie points in my book! Charismatic Helio, a two-time Indy champion, brings his own carload of racing enthusiasts. And Pretty Boy Floyd fills the ring with another batch of boxing devotees. How adept these contenders are on the dance floor is an unknown factor. I’d have to nominate Floyd as the most likely to succeed given the fancy footwork that he regularly executes in his professional boxing bouts.

Of course, the potential of these celebrities is closely linked to the professional dancers with whom they’ve been partnered and the committed fans that those pros bring to the mix. So I’m going to go out on the proverbial limb and give a preliminary prediction of the four teams that — at least on paper — have the best chance of making it to the finals. They are: Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas, Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Floyd Mayweather Jr. & Karina Smirnoff, and Cameron Mathison & Edyta Sliwinski. Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough could conceivably overtake Floyd & Karina, providing Helio’s dance skills make the grade.

Polish up that disco ball trophy and let the games begin!