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Dancing Sets Date for Spring Fling

Brooke Burke, Derek Hough, DTWS Winner ABC/KELSEY MCNEAL

Brooke Burke's moment in the spotlight just got upgraded from 15 minutes to three months—the time until Dancing With the Stars' newest batch of celebs takes to the parquet.

ABC announced this morning that the eighth season of the reality-show giant will (cross) kick off March 9 with a two-hour special premiere.

But there are some changes afoot...

Unlike this past season, where two couples were unceremoniously given the boot during the first week of competition, the upcoming season will feature two weeks of performances before the first elimination takes place.

Of course, the producers' generosity may be more ratings- than feelings-oriented. In the spring, the show competes—albeit not directly—with the audience-sucking black hole that is American Idol.

As with past seasons, competing celebrities will be announced roughly a month prior to the premiere, though at least one professional has already killed the element of surprise: Two-time champ Julianne Hough announced last month that she would not be returning this spring to devote more time to her burgeoning country-music career.

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