Twelve celebrities - six men and six women -- attempt to outshine one another on a sixth season of the hit series "Dancing with the Stars," which returns Monday, March 17 (8:00-9:30 p.m., ET) on ABC. The Season Six cast includes some of our most lauded stars yet: an Academy Award winner, a Tony Award winner, an Olympic Gold medalist, a nine-time Grand Slam tennis champion and the NFL's current Man of the Year. Six teams will strut their stuff on Monday night, while the other six teams will show off their moves on Tuesday, March 18 (9:00-10:30 p.m., ET). All twelve couples will perform a second routine the following week on Monday, March 24 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET), before the first elimination, Tuesday, March 25 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on "Dancing with the Stars the Results Show," where for the first time in the show's history, two couples' fates will be determined in a dramatic double elimination. In alphabetical order, the twelve stars making their ballroom dancing debut are:
Adam Carolla (partner Julianne Hough) - Television and radio personality Adam Carolla is host of the Los Angeles based and nationally syndicated morning radio program, "The Adam Carolla Show." The actor/comedian has his first starring film role in the soon to be released in "The Hammer" (in theaters March 21), which he co-wrote and co-produced. Carolla was also one of the creators and hosts of Comedy Central's "The Man Show" (alongside Jimmy Kimmel) and the MTV and long-running syndicated radio program, "Loveline," with Dr. Drew Pinsky.
Cristián de la Fuente (partner Cheryl Burke) - Having started his acting career in his native Chile, the international film and television star's Spanish language projects include Univisión's miniseries "Como ama una mujer" and Sony television's "Reyes y Rey," which aired on Telemundo. He gained recognition in the U.S. as a series regular on "Family Law" and "CSI: Miami." Recent TV guest roles include "Ugly Betty" and "Psych." He stars in the upcoming USA Network series "In Plain Sight." Other film work includes "Driven" and "Basic." Cristián is a First Lieutenant in the Chilean Air Force Reserve and a member of "Halcones," the high aerobatics team. People Magazine named him one of their "50 Most Beautiful," and he was the first man ever to grace the cover of Cosmopolitan en Español.
Shannon Elizabeth (partner Derek Hough) - Actress/model Shannon Elizabeth starred in the box office hits "American Pie" and "Scary Movie." Some of her other credits include "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," "Love Actually," "Cuts" and "That 70s Show." Shannon is also an accomplished poker player, taking third out of sixty-four invited professionals at the 2007 National Heads-Up Poker Championship.
Steve Guttenberg (partner Anna Trebunskaya) - Actor Steve Guttenberg has starred in blockbusters such as "Police Academy," "Three Men and a Baby," "Short Circuit" and "Cocoon," as well as such acclaimed dramatic hits as "Diner" and "The Boys from Brazil." Guttenberg has starred in a dozen films, each of which earned in excess of $100,000,000 at the American box office. His television credits include one of the highest-rated telefilms of all time, "The Day After." Guttenberg runs The Guttenhouse Project, which houses selected children who are phased out of foster care programs.
Mario (partner Karina Smirnoff) - Twenty-one year-old, multi-platinum selling R&B/Pop singer and actor Mario is known for such hit singles as "Just a Friend (2002)" and "Let Me Love You." He was the recipient of Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Single of the Year in 2005 for "Let Me Love You," and has been nominated for a Grammy, BET Award, Vibe Award, MOBO Award and Soul Train Music Award. His latest album, "Go," is in stores now. Mario has also appeared in the feature films "Step Up" and "Freedom Writers."
Marlee Matlin (partner Fabian Sanchez) - Marlee Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim for her film debut in "Children of a Lesser God," for which she received the Academy Award for Best Actress. At 21 she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and only one of four actresses to receive the honor for her film debut. In addition to the Oscar, Marlee received the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Drama. She has since appeared on a number of hit television programs, including "The West Wing," "The L-Word," "Nip/Tuck" and "Desperate Housewives." In Spring 2008, she will star opposite Jeff Daniels in the telefilm "Sweet Nothing in My Ear."
Penn Jillette (partner Kym Johnson) - Penn Jillette is one-half of the famous illusionist team Penn & Teller. Penn & Teller have been performing together for thirty years and are currently headlining in their own theater at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. They've received 11 Emmy nominations for their television series, "Penn & Teller: Bulls**t," and created several TV projects together. The duo has also written three best-selling books. In 2005 Penn produced and co-created the critically acclaimed documentary "The Aristocrats."
Priscilla Presley (partner Louis van Amstel) - Actress, producer and entrepreneur Priscilla Presley starred in the "Naked Gun" films and the internationally popular television series "Dallas," as well as guest-starred on TV's "Touched by an Angel," "Spin City" and "Melrose Place." Founder of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Priscilla has also served as executive producer on the feature film "Finding Graceland" and the television version of her autobiography, "Elvis and Me." Presley was married to music icon Elvis Presley.
Monica Seles (partner Jonathan Roberts) - Tennis champ Monica Seles is the holder of nine grand slam singles titles and was the top-ranked player in the world. She turned pro in 1988 at the age of 14 and won her first grand slam championship, the French Open, just two years later. After a two-year absence from the tour in 1993 and 1994, Seles rose above adversity and returned to capture her final grand slam crown in 1996, winning the Australian Open. She holds an outstanding career win-loss singles record of 595-122 and was ranked the13th greatest player of all time by "Tennis Magazine." Her accomplishments also extend beyond the tennis court as Goodwill Ambassador for the Laures Sports Foundation and the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Microalgae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM).
Jason Taylor (partner Edyta Sliwinska) - This year's NFL Man of the Year Award winner and last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Taylor has played defensive end for the Miami Dolphins for over a decade. The six-time All Pro formed the Jason Taylor Foundation in 2004 and continues to be heavily involved throughout the South Florida community. Taylor holds the NFL record for touchdowns by a defensive lineman (7) and is the Dolphins' all-time leader in quarterback sacks (117) and consecutive games played (130). Jason is married to Katina, and the couple reside in Weston, Fla., with their two sons, Isaiah Paul and Mason Paul, and daughter Zoe Grace.
Marissa Jaret Winokur (partner Tony Dovolani) - Marissa Jaret Winokur is best known for creating the role of "Tracy Turnblad" in the hit Broadway musical "Hairspray," a performance for which she won a Tony Award, Drama Desk Award and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Actress. Winokur has since been seen in the Farrelly Brothers film "Fever Pitch" and the television series "Stacked." She just finished filming the series lead in a new pilot entitled "Fugly" for 20th Century Fox and CBS, and is currently working as one of the leads in the Lifetime movie "Betrayals."
Kristi Yamaguchi (partner Mark Ballas) - An Olympic Gold medalist and World Champion, Kristi Yamaguchi is one of the most popular and successful figure skaters of our time. Since winning the 1992 Winter Olympics, Yamaguchi retired from competitive skating, performing in numerous television specials and traveling the globe on "Stars on Ice" tour. Along with her many awards and accomplishments, she is a member of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, World Figure Skating Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In 1996 she founded the Always Dream Foundation dedicated to fundraising and supporting children's charities. Yamaguchi is married to Stanley Cup champion and Carolina Hurricanes star Bret Hedican. Together they have two young daughters.
It's a diverse group, and the first time I've heard of all twelve participants. Smart of them not to cast any models, as they tend to be the first to go.