How D-List Wasteland Dancing with the Stars Became the Plenary Indulgence of Celebrity PRS

It's somewhat disappointing that Evan Lysacek, Pam Anderson, Kate Gosselin, and Ochocinco were cast for a show and won't be clashing in a shared home. But DWTS Season 10's draw is precisely the opposite spectacle: Public figures improving their images.

Among prime time lineups heavy on D-list schadenfreude, DWTS could easily be another place to watch rising and falling stars performing humiliating tasks in embarrassing outfits. But the reason people like Buzz Aldrin agree to this show it's one of the few places in television where film editors still try to make their subjects likable instead of loathsome. Even "charity activist" Heather Mills made it through her season without a single mention of her loud, angry battle with ex-husband Paul McCartney. Instead, Heather brought cameras to meet the man who crafts her prosthetic legs and spoke beatifically about philanthropy. Dancing with the Stars is throwback to the days when celebrity access was necessarily respectful; when nobody drew penises on the faces of A-listers; when starlets rarely forgot their panties and celebrity desperation was talked about but not documented in prime time specials with shaky cameras. Which must have been a really boring period for pop culture.

Sweet, though, just like Dancing with the Stars which is comfortably predictable. This season, ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews will try to make us forget about that peephole thing, and Shannen Doherty will beg to be loved, again. Evan Lysacek will prove that Johnny Weir isn't America's only lovably preposterous male figure skater. Kate Gosselin will grapple lightly with being a single mom. (And will continue her ongoing quest to keep her profile high enough to afford a big house and hair extensions.) Ochocinco is working on humility and building female fans. Nicole Scherzinger's solo career didn't go as well as she'd hoped. This show could run forever and it'd never run out of willing celebrities—and would never have a memorable moment. Sure, the stars will fret over whether this move or that one is worthy of winning, but nothing of value will ever be at stake, because simply by appearing on the show, they've already won the prize they actually care about: an all-expenses-paid trip to PR heaven. [LAT]