|Gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White at Medals Plaza on Feb. 18, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.(Photo: Paul Gilham, Getty Images)|
Dancing With the Stars has rounded up another eclectic cast of celebrity characters for Season 18.
Competing on the show, which kicks off March 17 (ABC, 8 p.m.): Two Olympic ice dancing darlings (Charlie White and Meryl Davis), three singers (including Billy Dee Williams), former child TV stars from The Wonder Years and Full House, a double amputee snowboarding champ, a former pro hockey player (Sean Avery), distance swimmer Diana Nyad, reality star NeNe Leakes and comedian Drew Carey.
Also spicing up the mix: Bad-boy pro Maks Chmerkovskiy returns to the ballroom.
The stars and their pro partners will compete amid several changes to the show: Tom Bergeron's co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet was fired and replaced by Fox Sports' Erin Andrews. New bandleader Ray Chew joins the team, as Harold Wheeler and his gang exits.
Pro Derek Hough announced another twist on Good Morning America Tuesday saying that at some point the cast will all switch partners.
"You have to change things every so often to keep them fresh," says executive producer Conrad Green.
The show's audience was slightly smaller (averaging 15 million viewers) and older last fall. And while it is roughly tied with The Voice in total viewers, Dancing has only about half that show's young-adult audience. The median age of a Dancing viewer is 61.6, the second-oldest of any major-network primetime series.
"We have to be mindful of keeping hold of younger audiences," says Green, who admits, "Ours does skew a little older."
But he defends the show that has had so many years of success. "I think we've held our own remarkably well."
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