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Every year, ABC's Dancing with the Stars ropes in a varied new batch of players to compete for a seat in Congress. (That's what the winner gets, right?) And every year, the amassed collections of actors, athletes, television personalities, and the odd astronaut have become more, let's say, "creative." Producers have shirked minor details like celebrity relevance in putting together eclectic teams for the competition series, taking the cake with their Season 17 lineup. Yes, the reactions to this year's players will range from "Not her again!"s to "Boy, he's really up and coming!"s to, "I had no idea he was still alive." Peruse the new DWTS contestants below, list compiled by Hollywood.com's Relevance Ranking (from least to most):
Corbin BleuAs the fourth billed star of the High School Musical movies, 24-year-old Bleu is the least relevant of the troupe, hardly even a thing back when he was a thing.
Jack OsbourneNot far ahead of Chaz Duckworth, or whatever it was, is the youngest and least significant member of a flavor-of-the-week MTV reality show that aired back in 2002 (and lasted, despite your recollection, all the way to '05).
Bill EngvallNeck and neck with Jackie O is Bill Engvall, best known for his frequent proximity to Larry the Cable Guy.
Christina MilianWhen you cap your music career by reading tweets on that reality show that people watch when Idol is out of season, you know you're a prime candidate for DWTS.
Brant DaughertyAdmittedly, Daugherty's role on the conversation piece Pretty Little Liars could justify a more prominent placement on this list. But he's also in The Starving Games, which kind of robs him of any of those points.
Keyshawn JohnsonRight in the middle of the pack is Keyshawn Johnson, who used to play football. Football is still cool, right?
Elizabeth BerkleyThanks to the onslaught of '90s nostalgia perpetuated by our generation's nagging inability to grow up, we have granted Saved by the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley an everlasting spot at the corner of our conscience. Remember when she took the caffeine pills? Of course you do. Hey, that might work on this show!
Leah ReminiLeah Remini's name has been thrown around a lot lately, mostly in connection to The Talk firings and Sharon Osbourne controversies. Hmm, perhaps we'll find a bit of a rivalry between her and Sharon's son Jack? That could bump him up an Engvall or two.
Amber RileyShe's on Glee, so there that is.
Valerie HarperTo be sincere for a minute, we pay legitimate credit to Valerie Harper, who is not only tackling cancer, but has long served as an inspiration to fellow sufferers, not to mention actors (she rejects the word "actress") and women everywhere. Some pop culture relevance is the kind you earn.
Snooki...and some, alas, is the kind that forms atop your head in the shape of a ravenous koosh ball. As much as it pains us to say this, Jersey Shore star and new mom Snooki is DWTS' big get of the season.
But that's only 11. What about the last new contestant?
Ah, yes, Bill Nye the Science Guy. A man who exists beyond the realms of pop culture relevance. A man who cannot be defined, but who himself doles out definition. A man against whom all other men are measured. Often in Berzelius beakers. Science rules.
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For some time now, we've heard whispers of the return of MTV's Punk'd, but until now it was not entirely official, leading some to believe that it we were all being...well, you know. But doubt no further: MTV has officially ordered a new Punk'd series.
The new version of Punk'd will vary a bit from the old: Kutcher will only play producer as opposed to on-screen host. The new Punk'd will feature a different celebrity host every week, starting with Justin Bieber on the premiere. A while back, it was reported that Bieber might be the show's permanent host, but the one-host-per-week format might serve better in keeping the show fresh and lively. Bieber alone is a big enough sell for an episode of the prank series, but his victim will be just as noteworthy a member of the pop music world.
MTV will be releasing further information about the revival of Punk'd during its NYE in NYC 2012 special on Dec. 31.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.