The new Dancing With the Stars 2012 premiere episode airs Monday night on ABC and fans are already picking out their favorite celebrity dancers to cheer on. Fans of the show will tune in tonight to see the Dancing With the Stars season 14 cast in action for the first time. Some of the faces will be familiar to many, while some of the more obscure DWTS 2012 cast could face a harder road in winning fan support. We’ll be curious to see if some fans switch out their first choices after watching the cast members on the dance floor for the first time.

More well-known Dancing With the Stars 2012 cast members such as singer Gladys Knight, actors Jack Wagner and Jaleel White, and tennis star Martina Navratilova may not have trouble garnering fan votes. (Although, well, we know who Martina Navratilova is, and she does have that unique ‘lesbian’ factor going, but we’re doubting even that makes her interesting enough to vote for.) This year, however, there are a lot of lesser known ‘celebrities’ on this year’s show who could have trouble connecting with the DWTS fan base. Will their lack of star power stand in their way of making it to the finale?

For example, most of the older viewers of the Dancing With the Stars season 14 cast probably won’t recognize Disney actor Roshon Fegan. Actually, anyone over the age of 13 is unlikely to know who the hell the Shake It Up! Latin star is. Nor will a vast majority of American viewers be raving fans of telenovela actor William Levy or Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins. (Although both do have the hot factor going for them.)

Dancing With the Stars 2012 senior producer Deena Katz thinks people need to stop talking about who is famous enough to grab a strong voting blog of viewers and give all the dancers an equal chance. “Everyone just needs to take a beat,” Katz told USA Today. “It doesn’t have to be the biggest name. It’s who you fall in love on the show.”

After all, Katz insists, there are less ‘famous’ contestants in every season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t stand an equal chance. She notes, for example, last year’s Dancing With the Stars winner J.R. Martinez — a soap opera actor and Iraq war veteran.

“When J.R. was announced, I had so many people saying to me, ‘Who is this? You have to Google him,’ ” Katz says. “But the idea of the show is that by the end, you’re enjoying people you never knew.” We get her point, and J.R. Martinez was actually quite a good dancer, but he did also have the whole patriotism, sympathy vote thing going for him too. So that’s not quite an apt comparison to some virtually unknown Latin model whose primary asset is being sexy.

In addition to a lack of serious star power, Dancing With the Stars 2012 also failed to land any truly controversial names this season — having been rejected, allegedly, by the likes of Michele BachmannHermain Cain, and The Bachelor‘s Courtney Robertson. Host Tom Bergeron, however, insists this may actually be a good thing.

“Having a controversial cast member is another arrow in your quiver and you can always use that when you think it’s a good idea,” Bergeron told TV Guide. “I think coming off a season or two where we had used that arrow … that it’s smart to take a breather, take a detour that in some ways harkens back to the earlier seasons.”

Currently, the odds seem to be weighing towards a woman winning this season, with TV host Maria Menounous as a strong favorite. Anything can happen on DWTS though, and a new favorite often emerges every week.

Dancing With the Stars 2012 cast for season 14:

  • Former Melrose Place star Jack Wagner and Anna Trebunskaya
  • Former Little House on the Praire child star Melissa Gilbert and Maksim Chmerkovskiy
  • Tennis pro Martina Navratilova and Tony Dovolani
  • Green Bay Packers receiver Donald Driver and Peta Murgatroyd
  • Latin telenovela actor William Levy and Cheryl Burke (super hot couple!)
  • The View co-host Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy
  • Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins and Mark Ballas (super hot couple #2!)
  • Singer Gavin DeGraw  and Karina Smirnoff
  • Disney actor Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower
  • TV host Maria Menounos and Derek Hough
  • Former Family Matters star Jaleel White  and Kym Johnson
  • Singer Gladys Knight  and Tristan MacManus

Who do you think is going to take home the Dancing With the Stars season 14 winner’s trophy this year?

 >> Related: Dancing With the Stars 2012 cast lacks controversy or wow factor


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