You’ve got to admire Dancing With the Stars for its eclectic casting. When the ABC show returns at 8 p.m. Monday, March 22, it will have the usual motley crew of celebrities, from a real-life astronaut to a reality-star mom who recently updated her new-millennium mullet. Herewith, our picks for the leaders of the pack:
• Evan Lysacek: The Olympic figure skating champ could be a keeper — he’s already used to tacky costumes, fast spins and falling on his face. Seriously though, our bets are on him, considering how his colleagues Apolo Anton Ohno, Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson fared (they all won).
• Nicole Scherzinger, 31: The Pussycat Doll may have an unfair advantage — ever seen her wriggle around on stage?
• Pamela Anderson, 42: The former Baywatch babe found a way to get herself in the news again. We know she can fill out a costume, but will her assets get in her way? Expect your husband to develop a sudden interest in ballroom dancing.
• Shannen Doherty, 38: The often contentious former Beverly Hills, 90210 star turned Lifetime vixen is filling in where former DWTS contestants Jennie Garth and Ian Ziering left off. Tori’s got to be fuming.
• Chad Ochocinco, 32: The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver is joining a distinguished group of football players who’ve expanded their fan base by showing they can cha-cha. Any way Jason Taylor can guest star?
• Kate Gosselin: The hair-extensioned one might surprise us all — you need fancy footwork to simultaneously care for eight kids, boss around a philandering husband, dodge paparazzi and self-promote. Stay strong, Tony Dovolani!
• Aiden Turner, 32: The soap hunk (ABC’s All My Children) is definitely used to drama, so he should fit right in. We say: The more eye candy the better.
• Niecy Nash, 40: The Reno 911 star/Clean House host ought to provide some comic relief to the proceedings. Tom B., watch your step. Everyone’s replaceable (hello, Samantha Harris).
• Erin Andrews, 31: The ESPN reporter’s peephole stalker just got sentenced to a short stint in jail, but she deserves to let loose a bit and have some fun out there.
• Jake Pavelka, 32: The most recent Bachelor is a pilot so we know he’s got good reflexes, but anyone noticed he’s a little pigeon-toed? At least his fans won’t be looking at his feet.
• Buzz Aldrin, 80: The disco-ball trophy would look nice on his shelf, next to all those awards for that one small step for mankind thing. Host Tom Bergeron joked that the distinguished senior citizen was the first “moonwalker.”
Dancing With The Stars airs Monday, March 22 and Tuesday, March 23 at 8 p.m. on ABC (WPLG-Ch. 10)