By Lori Acken
By now you’re aware of the dozen famous folks about to try their hands — and, uh, feet — at becoming America’s ultimate favorite “dance-lebrity” for what looks to be a kick-butt season of Dancing with the Stars.
Now we can answer the burning question whose answer can ultimately determine a celeb dancer’s fate — and how silly (or elegant) they’ll look along the way: Who’s their pro dance partner?
• Season 12 winner Kym Johnson — who has traditionally fared well with turning big personalities into decent dancers — has her work cut out for her with Courteney Cox’s unpredictable ex David Arquette.
• Last season’s finalist (and world’s hottest hothead) Maxim Chmerkovskiy will duo with pro goalie Hope Solo.
• Maks’ brother Val Chmerkovskiy scored himself a hot one in Italian TV presenter — and jilted George Clooney lover — Elisabetta Canalis.
• Season 11 winner Derek Hough, who went MIA last season while he worked on films, will teach actress and former talk-show host Ricki Lake to sail across the dance floor.
• The ever-energetic Mark Ballas lands his usual hot-young-chickie dance partner in former Laguna Beach and The Hills star Kristin Cavallari — whom we kinda wish would have been matched up with Hough instead.
• Perpetual fan favorite Cheryl Burke gets the K-dash treatment with Kimmy, Khloe and Kourtney’s bro’, Kob, er, Rob Kardashian.
• Karina Smirnoff, who has yet to score the mirror trophy, will dance with All My Children star and Iraqi war vet J.J. Martinez.
• HLN show host and “Tot Mom” detractor Nancy Grace will face the judges herself along with new cast member and Irish dance pro Tristan MacManus.
• Son o’ Sonny and Cher — and the series’ first-ever transgender contestant — Chaz Bono will trip the light fantastic with my personal favorite pro, Lacey Schwimmer. (And maybe this year, the fancy-pants Brit announcer will even stop pronouncing her last name “swimmer.”)
• Sassy, competitive redhead Anna Trebunskaya and former Queer Eye for the Straight Guy guy Carson Kressley should make for a funny and feisty pair.
• Wilson Phillips warbler Chynna Phillips will make sweet music — or serviceable dancing, anyway — with Kate Gosselin survivor Tony Dovolani.
• Lakers star Ron Artest is double-tasking — occupying himself during the NBA lockout and thrilling his cancer-survivor daughter, to boot — by filling the male athlete position. Man jocks have traditionally done well in the competition, which is very good news for cast newbie Peta Murgatroyd. Who may become our brand-new favorite just because it’s such fun to have a weekly reason to say Murgatroyd.
Oh Louis V, say you’re not gone for good. <sniffle>
Dancing with the Stars premieres Sept. 19 at 8pm ET/PT on ABC.