Initial Reaction: Dancing with the Stars Announces Their New Line-up

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ABC has announced the 12 couples who will compete for the mirror ball trophy on Season 11 of Dancing with the Stars.

Here's my gut reaction ... share yours in the comments below.

44210, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Monday August 30 2010. Mark and Corky Ballas and Chelsie Hightower join their fellow Dancing with the Stars professionals at a pre-launch soiree at STK. Photograph:  Hellmuth Dominguez,

1. Singer Michael Bolton with SYTYCD alum Chelsie Hightower
It's a little creepy with the age difference, IMHO. I love Chelsie, but I think they might want to stick to pairing her with cute little guys like Louie until she looks a bit less teenage.

2. Singer Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
This could be promising. Although Brandy isn't one of the more dance-oriented pop singers out there -- not so polished that she'll be a ringer like last season's winner, Nicole Scherzinger -- she, at least, should have good musicality and rhythm. (Although, scratch that ... it's not like being a pop singer made that a given for Belinda Carlisle.)

3. Comedian Margaret Cho and Louis van Amstel
I am stoked about this pairing. I thought Louis was awesome and brave (and that the producers were also cool) for sharing his feelings on how the gay marriage issue personally affects him during last season. It was unexpected, personal and did I say awesome? Besides being bisexual herself (despite now being in a traditional marriage), Cho has long been a vocal advocate and activist for LGBT causes. This is a match made in heaven, as far as I'm concerned.

4. Former NBA star Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke
I confess, I didn't know who Fox was before now, so I can't say too much about his dancing or his star quality. I can say that he and Cheryl look like they'll make a very handsome couple.

5. Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough
Please, please tell me they'll recreate the closing scene from Dirty Dancing, please??? I think it would be cool, not sacrilege. I will say that I miss Jennifer's original, Dirty Dancing nose. I know she is more conventionally pretty now, but who didn't fall in love with her way back then? If it ain't broke (or maybe if it is, but it's cute and uniquely yours) don't fix it! OK, let me have it ... I don't normally comment on plastic surgery, but her picture is pretty unrecognizable from that girl in Ferris Bueller and Dirty Dancing, and it's not an age thing.

6. "International Superstar" David Hasselhoff and Kym Johnson
Speaking of pictures, there's more spray tan in the picture of David and Kym than at a George Hamilton Open! So, you know, the Hoff. What can I say? OK, I can say: I'm really not that interested in seeing him on television, that's what.

7. Actress/singer Florence Henderson and Corky Ballas
Yup, it's this year's inspiration to senior citizens. I actually just saw Henderson perform live in San Francisco because one of my cousins is touring as one of her back-up singers. She is spry ... and surprisingly randy. Cloris Leachman and Betty White aren't the only ones who can tell a surprising dirty joke! While Florence's voice was showing some age, she seemed to be in great shape in every other way, so inspiration she will likely be -- and probably to everyone!

8. Teen TV star Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer
Well, again, I'm hampered by not knowing who this kid is. Who wants to fill in the blanks?

9. Alaskan First Daughter Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas
Described as a "teen advocate," Bristol will grab her own spot in the spotlight. Here's my prediction: Rather than political snark, instead we'll hear sexist snark wondering who's taking care of her baby ... just as people have done with other moms on the show, without ever wondering if the male "stars" even have kids.

10. Reality TV star Audrina Partridge and Tony Dovolani
Having never watch "The Hills"... and admit it: I know some of you are addicted. I also cannot comment much on this pairing. It might be another, reverse, creepy age difference in this case, though.

11. Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and Karina Smirnov
It pains me to even have to type "The Situation," given that I find the whole existence of a person who has nicknamed their abs -- and a country that has willingly adopted that as part of his official name -- to be pretty sad. I am sure we are going to hear nothing but rumors and innuendo about this pairing!

12. Football player Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya
Another handsome couple, and football players tend to do well on the show. I'd give this pair good odds.

The thing I like: No obvious ringers. No figure skaters or gymnasts, no refugees from a dance-oriented boy (or girl) band. If you look at the winners of the first few years of DWtS, they were underdogs or unexpected. In the last few years, you could have predicted the finals from the beginning. Now it's not so clear.

That won't stop me from predicting, but it's not based on existing skills and advantages.

So here goes, my predictions for, let's say, the Top Four:

Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough
Football player Kurt Warner and Anna Trebunskaya
Singer Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Teen TV star Kyle Massey and Lacey Schwimmer

What's your guess? And are you excited for Season 11?

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