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'Dancing with the Stars' cast: Names (and thoughts)

Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver celebrates after scoring

Green Bay Packers' Donald Driver celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the New York Giants. (Dec. 4, 2011) Credit: AP

The 14th season of "Dancing with the Stars" arrives March 19, and the cast announcement arrives . . . right now. Here are the names, and some quick observations. Naturally, the football star is favored.

--  Jack Wagner/Anna Trebunskaya: Durable and well-liked TV star, but not the superstar that would ensure the desire of ABC to keep him in the running for the entire season. But could still surprise. 

-- Melissa Gilbert/Maksim Chmerkovskiy: At age 47, she's right in the sweet spot of "DWTS" demo; plus she has Maks as her partner, which means she'll get plenty of attention throughout her run.

-- William Levy/Cheryl Burke: A major telenovela star, but not a major star here; he's paired with J.Lo in one of her recent music videos, "I'm Into You."

-- Donald Driver/Peta Murgatroyd: Packers' wide receiver, and already favored to win the whole thing (rule of "DWTS:" Great athletes always always always have the edge.)

-- Sherri Shepherd/Val Chmerkovskiy: "The View"-ster. Should do well here.

-- Katherine Jenkins/Mark Ballas: Katherine who? That's the problem right off the bat. In fact, she's an accomplished crossover singer -- well known in the UK, much less so here.

-- Gavin DeGraw/Karina Smirnoff: Fairly major singing star who could play well across the spectrum of viewers - so-called "C & D country" crowd,  a TV term, meaning smaller markets, where "DWTS" has an especially big draw - and maybe even big cities too. (I always figured DeGraw had a biggish country appeal, too, even he's from NYC.) Check out his big hit -- or one of 'em -- below -- and try to guess which show this tracks on. Oh you know! "One Tree Hill." 

-- Martina Navratilova/Tony Dovolani: Tennis superstar who should go reasonably far, but all the way to the end?

-- Roshon Fegan/Chelsie Hightower: The requisite in-house ABC star -- from the Disney Channel, and unknown to the largely older "DWTS" But not to be discounted -- youth can sometimes be a nice advantage here.

- Maria Menounos/Derek Hough: Look quickly and you could almost confuse Menounos with Brooke Burke. She's another reasonably well-known name who should go pretty far. Like her chances here quite a bit, in fact - especially with Derek. 

-- Jaleel White/ Kym Johnson: Urkel, of course, and in some ways the very best known name of this entire cast ('nother rule of thumb -- fame, even if it arrived on an old ABC sitcom a couple of decades ago, never hurts.) He comes in almost certainly with a big "I Like this Guy" sticker on his back; viewers should warm to him, but will the judges?

-- Gladys Knight/Tristan McManus: Maybe the most intriguing addition to this season's cast. Gladys Knight!? What is she doing here? Distinguished. Beloved singer. Still very, very active. But age -- 67 -- is a massive issue. This show can physically be a killer.


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