Say this for the new season of Dancing with the Stars: It has some cultural relevance.
The celebrity dancing competition show has generously used the term “stars” for most of its run, providing a platform for retreads and edge dwellers looking to relaunch their careers. This season, the ABC show’s 17th, the group of dancers chosen will provide a number of compelling story lines, whether you’re interested in struggling waltzers or not.
First up, as a treat for all you ’90s kids, is Bill Nye, the PBS Science Guy. An education and climate change activist, he has held onto a fan base that adores him, and we can only hope he will wear a bow tie with all costumes.
In what should be the show’s inspirational/emotional story line, ABC has signed up Valerie Harper, the Mary Tyler Moore star who announced in January that she was dying of terminal brain cancer. It was thought that she might not last through the spring, but now she’ll be dancing this fall, an impressive feat.
“I feel much better,” Harper, 74, told People magazine . “And my brain scans are looking better too. The doctors tell me there’s less evidence of cancer, which is very unusual. However, they both say it’s not a case of if, but when. And I can live with that.”
Jack Osbourne, the reality star, will also bring a dose of medical intrigue to the show. Last summer, he announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, making his ability to dance — in public — all the more impressive.
Glee star Amber Riley will be dancing, and will surely address the loss of Cory Monteith, making for another emotional package ABC can trot out there.
More reality stars: Jersey Shore guidette, author, mom, and surprisingly savvy businesswoman Snooki will also be dancing, and will presumably be thrown a lot.
Your next contestant is Leah Remini, The King of Queens star. She has been in the news of late, as she has left the Church of Scientology under mysterious auspices. Rumors flew about her exit, and undoubtedly, she’ll have to address them at some point on the show.
More nostalgia: Elizabeth Berkley, of Saved by the Bell, will be on the series, putting her Showgirls moves to good use. We’re old.
The rest of your cast includes former NFL pro Keyshawn “Give Me the Damn Ball” Johnson, High School Musical star Corbin Blue (who, well, danced professionally in Disney movies), comedian Bill Engvall, singer/dancer Christina Milian, and Pretty Little Liars actor Brant Daugherty.