by Kristin Dos Santos | Tue., Mar. 4, 2014 5:33 AM
And the new twist: everybody will switch partners! America will vote on the new pairings. How about that twist?
E! News has acquired the full list of new contestants, and here are the stars and their pro partners:
Billy Dee Williams & Emma Slater
Candace Cameron Bure & Mark Ballas
Charlie White & Sharna Burgess
Cody Simpson & Witney Carson
Danica McKellar & Valentin Chmerkovskiy
Diana Nyad & Henry Byalikov
Drew Carey & Cheryl Burke
James Maslow & Peta Murgatroyd
Meryl Davis & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
NeNe Leakes & Tony Dovolani
Sean Avery & Karina Smirnoff
Amy Purdy & Derek Hough
So what exactly are producers going after in their casting choices this year? Let's break it down:
Cody Simpson (a 17-year-old Australian pop singer) and James Maslow (a 23-year-old Nickelodeon star and singer in boy band Big Time Rush) are a clear attempt to reel in younger viewers—and social media pickup. (Simpson has 7 million Twitter followers; Maslow has close to 3 million.) DWTS's ratings in the key 18-49 demo have been slipping in recent seasons, as younger viewers have been changing over to NBC's The Voice on Monday nights. The network's #1 priority for DWTS is to attract more viewers in the 18-34 range, a source tells E! News. That is also the primary reason Brooke Burke-Charvet was replaced with Erin Andrews as Tom Bergeron's co-host for season 18, we are told.
The Athletes—With a Twist
DWTS has had plenty of athletes in the past, but this year they are choosing athletes who have interesting—even incredible—backstories, including:
You've also, of course, got your Olympians: Figure skaters Charlie White, 26, and Meryl Davis, 27, who could follow in Kristy Yamaguchi's footsteps as one of the best ballroom dancers of all time. (She is the highest-scoring dancer in DWTS history.)
The TV Stars Middle-Aged Women Love
This includes Drew Carey, 55, the beloved host of Price Is Right and Whose Line Is It Anyway?; Candace Cameron Bure (37, DJ Tanner on Full House) and Danica McKellar (39, Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years), who will pull on the nostalgia-TV heartstrings; and Nene Leakes, 46, who stars on Bravo's highest-rated Housewives series, Real Housewives of Atlanta. Nene is the second housewife to star on DWTS—Lisa Vanderpump appeared on season 16 (for a short time, before she fainted and left the series).
The...Um...Sci Fi Guy?
Billy Dee Williams, 76, is a Motown singer and movie actor who has a following among the sci-fi crowd, thanks to his roles in two Star Wars films and Batman. We had heard rumblings that ABC wanted to lure in more male viewers this season on Dancing with the Stars. So...maybe there was some truth to that?
We're not so sure sci-fi geeks are going to tune in each week for spandex and waltzes, but it should be an interesting season!
What do you think of the new cast?
Check out the faces of the new cast members below!
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