It will be a season of surprises in what promises to be the biggest and most demanding season ever as thirteen celebrities take the ballroom floor on the hit series Dancing with the Stars, which returns with a three-night premiere event, Monday, September 22 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on ABC. Each week, all new surprises and twists await viewers. Season seven marks the largest cast assembled to date, the oldest and youngest competitors ever, and includes two Olympic Gold medalists, a Grammy-winning singer, a television legend, an Oscar winner, and a Super Bowl champion. Additionally, all four professional dancers who've previously tasted the thrill of victory return to compete against one another for bragging rights. Can one of them reclaim the mirror ball trophy?
For the first time ever, all thirteen teams must prepare two routines for the first week of competition, one of which they'll perform on Monday night. The judges will score the performances on Monday while the viewers cast their votes for their favorites. Only twelve will have the chance to showcase their second dance on Tuesday, September 23 (9:00-10:00p.m., ET). In dramatic style on Tuesday's show, one couple will be eliminated as the remaining contestants perform their second dance of the season. The judges will score the dances on Tuesday and the viewers will once again cast their votes before a second duo is dismissed Wednesday, September 24 (8:00-9:00 p.m., ET).
As announced today on Good Morning America, in alphabetical order, the thirteen stars making their ballroom dancing debut are:
LANCE BASS - Lance Bass has sold over 50 million records as a member of the phenomenally successful pop group NSYNC. He also executive produced and starred in a number of film and television projects. In 2002 he successfully trained to be a cosmonaut at Russia's Star City and was certified by both the Russian Space Program and NASA for a mission aboard a Soyuz capsule. Lance has also released his memoir, Out of Sync, for Simon Spotlight Entertainment. The 2006 U.S. Youth Latin Champ and 2007 World Swing Dance Champ Lacey Schwimmer teams up with Lance to make her series debut.
TONI BRAXTON - The winner of six Grammy Awards, Toni Braxton is a Billboard chart-topping singer and actress, selling over forty million records worldwide. Her U.S. number-one hit Un-Break My Heart is the second biggest single by a female artist in history. She has also appeared in two Disney Broadway shows: Beauty and the Beast and Aida. Dancing with the Stars marks her return to the spotlight after a six-month health hiatus. She teams up with season one champion, Alec Mazo, who returns for his fourth season.
BROOKE BURKE - A host, actress, entrepreneur and celebrity mom, Brooke Burke has truly done it all. She has graced numerous magazine covers, has her own top-selling swimsuit calendars, and is regularly ranked in men's magazines as one of the sexiest women in the world. Recognized worldwide as host of the hit travel series Wild On!, Brooke has since hosted several high profile network series, including Rock Star: INXS and Rock Star: Supernova. On the acting front, she has guest-starred on such television series as Las Vegas, Less Than Perfect, Eve, It's All Relative, The Bernie Mac Show, Monk, Rock Me Baby and That's Life. Brooke is a mother of four and recently launched her own babystore BabooshBaby.com, a site where she shares her secrets (and some products she used) to get back in shape after giving birth. Brooke teams with Derek Hough who returns for his third season.
ROCCO DISPIRITO - The James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef and author Rocco DiSpirito combines his world-class cooking with a passion for empowering home cooks. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Rocco opened the 3-star Union Pacific in New York City in 1997. In 2003 he launched Rocco's for the reality series, The Restaurant. Rocco will next appear on the A&E series, Rocco Gets Real, beginning in October, along with its companion cookbook, Rocco Gets Real: Cook at Home Every Day. He teams with Karina Smirnoff who returns for her fifth season. Karina teamed with R&B singer, Mario, last season.
MAURICE GREENE - The winner of two gold medals, in the 100m sprint and the 4x100m relay at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, track star Maurice Greene was dubbed the "World's Fastest Man" during his career. In addition to being the former world record holder in the 100m sprint, and winning multiple world championships, he also won silver and bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. He is the current Indoor World Record holder in the 60m at 6.39 seconds. He teams up with two-time champion, Cheryl Burke. Cheryl returns for her sixth season.
KIM KARDASHIAN - Actress, model and reality television star, Kim Kardashian shot to stardom after the first airing of her hit E! reality series, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The series follows the exploits of Kim, her siblings, her mother Kris, and her stepfather, Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner. Kardashian recently completed her first feature film, Disaster Movie and will also be seen on The N's series Beyond the Break. She teams up with defending champ, Mark Ballas, who returns for his third season.
CLORIS LEACHMAN - Actress Cloris Leachman's storied career has been recognized with nine Emmys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. She has the distinction of being the only woman to win eight Primetime Emmy Awards and one Daytime Emmy. Leachman has starred in a wide range of theater, television and motion picture projects, creating such indelible characters as Phyllis in the TV series Phyllis and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein, Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety, and Ruth Popper in The Last Picture Show (for which she won an Oscar® and a BAFTA). In 2008 she has already completed three new films; The Women, American Cowslip and New York, I Love You. She is in the process of writing her memoir and is currently touring the U.S. with her one-woman show CLORIS! Cloris teams with World Latin Champion and Mark's father, Corky Ballas, who makes his series debut.
CODY LINLEY - Cody Linley will be the youngest contestant ever to compete on Dancing with the Stars. He is best known for his role as Jake Ryan on the wildly popular Disney Channel series Hannah Montana, a role in which he was nominated for a Young Artist Award. He also helped the show garner an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Children's Programming. Cody's film credits include My Dog Skip, Hoot, Miss Congeniality, and Cheaper By the Dozen. He teams with two-time Dancing with the Stars champ, Julianne Hough who returns for her fourth season.
SUSAN LUCCI - As the most famous face in daytime television history, Lucci has held audiences spellbound for years as the sexy, sassy, beautiful woman you love to hate, Erica Kane on All My Children. In May 1999, all of America stood and cheered when Susan Lucci won the Emmy Award for Best Actress. While competing on the show, she will continue her work on All My Children, and celebrate her 10,000th episode this November. In addition to her performances on Broadway and in cabarets across the country, Susan is an entrepreneur, having launched successful cosmetic, fashion, and jewelry lines on HSN. She teams with Tony Dovolani who returns for his sixth season.
MISTY MAY-TREANOR - Beach Volleyball champion Misty May-Treanor and partner Kerri Walsh captured their second Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and became the first team ever to repeat as back-to-back champs. The victory also marked their 108th straight match win. Misty and Kerri were distinguished as AVP Team of the Year for four consecutive years (2003 through 2006). Misty was also named Most Valuable Player in 2005 and 2006, Best Offensive Player in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and Best Defensive Player in 2006. She now joins a new teammate, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who returns for his fifth season.
TED MCGINLEY - Actor Ted McGinley's extensive television credits include Married with Children, Hope & Faith, Happy Days, recurring roles on the critically-acclaimed series The West Wing, Sports Night, Charlie Lawrence, Dynasty, and The Love Boat. He has also starred in such films as Pearl Harbor, Daybreak, Dick, Major League III: Back to the Minors, Wayne's World 2 and the cult hit Revenge of the Nerds. Newcomer Inna Brayer will be paired with Ted. Inna is the current US Amateur 10 Dance Champion.
JEFFREY ROSS - Comedian Jeffrey Ross a.k.a. the "Roastmaster General," has delivered numerous show stopping performances at celebrity roasts honoring the likes of William Shatner, Hugh Hefner, Donald Trump, Pamela Anderson, Bob Saget and Emmitt Smith, inspiring New York Magazine to crown him The Meanest Man in Comedy. As a comic, Jeff has appeared on several late night and morning shows Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The View. Jeff's other TV credits include Weeds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He has also appeared in such films as the Farrelley Brothers' Stuck on You, and the critical sensation, The Aristocrats. Jeff continues to tour regularly. He teams with Edyta Sliwinska, who is the only pro to compete in all seven seasons of Dancing with the Stars.
WARREN SAPP - Recently retired defensive tackle and Superbowl Champion Warren Sapp played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders during his 13 year career. His 96.5 career sacks are the second-highest career total sacks for a defensive tackle in the NFL. Warren was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999, played in seven consecutive Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. This Fall, Warren will co-host Showtime's Inside the NFLand will be a studio analyst and game commentator for the NFL Network. He is teamed with Kym Johnson who returns for her fifth season.
Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday and Tuesday night during and up to 30 minutes after the Dancing with the Stars performance shows. AT&T subscribers may also text message their votes by texting the word "VOTE" and entering the number that corresponds to the team they want to support (standard text message rates apply). Viewers may also vote online at www.abc.com starting from the opening of each episode on the East Coast and until 12:00 Noon, ET the following day.
Dancing with the Stars: The Results Show will feature the return of Macy's Stars of Dance, featuring some of the most renowned dancers and choreographers of our time, including an extra spectacular performance on October 21st to commemorate the Macy's 150th anniversary. The Kids Ballroom Dance Competition, a fan favorite, also returns.
Hosted by Tom Bergeron (America's Funniest Home Videos) and Samantha Harris (E! Entertainment), the celebrities will perform choreographed dance routines which will be judged by renowned Ballroom judge Len Goodman and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba.
Dancing with the Stars is the U.S. version of the international smash hit series, Strictly Come Dancing. This version is produced in America by BBC Productions. Conrad Green serves as executive producer and Rob Wade and Matilda Zoltowski are co-executive producers. Alex Rudzinski directs. Dancing with the Stars is broadcast in 720 Progressive (720P), ABC's selected HDTV format, with 5.1 channel surround sound and Spanish audio via SAP.