The all-star cast for the 15th season of "Dancing with the Stars" was announced at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Friday, with Bristol Palin — who managed to deliver controversial sound bites before even putting her dancing shoes back on — among the returning contestants.
Also making an encore performance on the dancing competition are Kirstie Alley, Helio Castroneves, Drew Lachey, Gilles Marini, Kelly Monaco, Melissa Rycroft, Pamela Anderson, Joey Fatone, Shawn Johnson, Apolo Anton Ohno and Emmitt Smith. The 13th contestant will be selected by viewers; Sabrina Bryan, Carson Kressley and Kyle Massey are vying for votes in an online campaign that is currently open at www.abc.com.
Executive producer Conrad Green said this cast represents the "crème de al crème" of the reality show's last 14 seasons. "We wanted to get back some of the best personalities and talent," Green said, adding that he pretty much got his wish list of returning stars in trying to reflect the scope of the show. "This is our Avengers," he said. "[They're the] superheroes of all the seasons, and they're back."
Perhaps no contestant in the series' history has been the subject of as much media scrutiny as Bristol Palin, the daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who appeared on the show in the fall of 2010. On stage to address critics' questions about "Dancing with the Stars: All Stars," Bristol brushed off the attention she receives.
"God provides opportunities," Palin said, multiple times throughout the panel. "You can go out and do them or not do them. The press is going to talk about me no matter what, [so I] might as well be having fun."
Politics, inevitably, came up. One critic asked Palin if she would mind being paired up with a gay dance partner, and for her general opinion on "the gays."
"I like gays! I'm not a homophobic. Just because I'm for traditional marriage…" she insisted, voice raising. "It's not about politics."
When asked if she thinks this kind of attention would have followed her back to Alaska after the 2008 election had she not chosen to become a reality TV star, Palin said, "[the press is] going to talk about me if I'm in my little life in Alaska or in L.A., so I might as well have fun."
Is there anything she does enjoy about the media attention?
She evasively answered the question with her own question. "Do I like to provide for my son? Yes, I do," she said.