“Dancing With the Stars” unveiled the 12 new couples to compete on the series when it returns for its 18th season this month. Appearing on “Good Morning America,” one of the biggest names was returning pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The fan favorite is back, starting with the March 17 premiere, after a two-season absence.
Among the celebrity additions is the usual mix of pop stars (Cody Simpson and Big Time Rush singer James Maslow), sports stars (Olympic figure skaters Charlie White and Meryl Davis, NHL alum Sean Avery), and TV veterans (The Wonder Years’ Danica McKellar, Full House’s Candace Cameron Bure and “The Price is Right” host Drew Carey).
Diana Nyad, the long-distance swimmer who completed the Cuba-to-Florida trek, is one of the more left-field entries, while NeNe Leakes, of “Real Housewives” fame, is par for the course. Clocking in at an admirable 76 years old, Lando Calrissian himself, Mr. Billy Dee Williams ranks as the oldest person in the cast this season.
That leaves wild card Amy Purdy. The snowboarder, activist and one-time “Amazing Race” competitor is the first contestant with two prosthetic legs to be featured on “Dancing With the Stars.” Now 34, Purdy had both of her legs amputated below the knee due to a form of bacterial meningitis she had when she was 19 years old. The only other person on the series to ever compete with a prosthetic limb was former model Heather Mills back in 2007.
Purdy gets one big advantage in her partner, five-time winner Derek Hough, but even partnerships aren’t a sure thing this season. ABC also used the cast announcement to to reveal a slight twist in the competition. At one point in the season, after the duos have settled into their working relationships, fans will vote on partner swaps for one week of the show.