By now you’ve checked out the cast list and lamented the “All-Stars” left out (No John O’Hurley?! No Jennifer Grey?! No Yamaguchi, nor Osmond, nor Gosselin?!). Perhaps you’ve already picked your favorite — Team Ohno, right here! — and handicapped the competition in terms of pasos and popularity.
And now you’re wondering — just how’s this Dancing With The Stars: All-Stars deal going to work, exactly?
The show’s executive producer, Conrad Green, took time to explain the season he calls “a treat for the viewers” to a packed room of television writers at the Television Critics Association Press Tour.
Asked at the outset if the all-star season was in response to clamoring fans or flagging ratings — or a bit of both — Green said the idea’s been on the table for years, but the producers were waiting for the right assemblage of past dancers who could execute their vision.
“We wanted to be able to pick the best of the best and make something that celebrates the range and the sort of humor and the brilliance of dancing,” Green explained. “And we felt we needed enough time to build up the stock, as it were, to do that. … I’m astonished with the people who have, thankfully, all agreed to say yes, because we’ve got absolutely the crème de la crème, representing everything that the show is about.”
Regarding the selection process for celebs who made the cut, Green wouldn’t say if any past favorites declined the chance to dance (again). But he described his final cast as the DWTS version of The Avengers: “These were the superheroes of their particular seasons, and they’re back.”
“We wanted to represent many different seasons,” Green said. “We wanted to do different types of stories that have appealed over the course of the last seven years. We wanted to get back some of the best personalities and the best dancing. So really … we sort of wrote a wish list, and we pretty much got the wish list.”
Green also said they labored the list to make sure that the competition was as — reasonably — evenly matched as possible.
“We tried to focus on people who went further in the competition or had ability,” he explained. “Most people here have all got to the finals of their seasons. So I think it will be an intensely competitive season in terms of dance ability. But I think it will also be a very warm season in terms of all the people here were such beloved characters on their own seasons — the idea is that, while there is competition, there’s friendly competition on this show.”
(Which, as longtime DWTS junkies like me know, could theoretically go a long way in explaining some of the folks who aren’t on that cast list … Mario Lopez or Hope Solo, anyone?)
And as the fans and the contestants are all too aware, having the right professional partner to steer you through the competition is downright critical. The All-Stars pro-celeb pairings will be announced on Good Morning America Aug. 13, and, said Green, the celebs have zero say in the matter.
“Obviously when you look at the stars that are coming back, it’s impossible for everybody to have the same partner,” he said. “So we’re currently working that out. … We’re trying to pair people based upon what we think is going to make the most intriguing season, make a brilliant season, and that will all become clear on the 13th.”
In addition to allowing fans to choose the season’s final contestant (Carson Kressley — and, I suspect, because the All-Stars cast has somewhat shunned the youth vote — Sabrina Bryan or Kyle Massey), Green said they will be tweaking the season just a bit to keep the dancers on their toes — literally and figuratively. “We are going to look at introducing elements to the competition that update it ever so slightly — maybe new challenges put in just to make sure we’re stretching these guys and not making it too straightforward for them. But essentially, it will be the same competition because I think that’s what you want to watch.”
And, Green added, just because your favorite star-dancer didn’t make the cast, there’s still a chance you could see them on the show — in person or homage.
“There will be a lot of references during the course of this season not only to the cast that are taking part, but to other people who have been involved in the show,” he said. “We’ll have music performances from people who have competed on the show before. We want this whole season to be a celebration of the wide range of people who’ve taken part — and the positivity they’ve all brought to it. We’re currently working on those kind of details, but I think there will be a lot of reference to key iconic moments of the show in the past seven years.”
Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars airs Monday nights at 8/7CT on ABC beginning Sept. 24
Photos: © 2012 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Credit: Rick Rowell