As Season 11 of “Dancing With the Stars” gets underway, viewers can likely agree that by now, the show’s casting directors are pretty liberal in their idea of the term “star.” “Dancing With the Stars” has cast athletes, television personalities, models, musicians, actors, reality show contestants, an astronaut, and a “teen activist” who just happens to be the daughter of a famous politician.
Why not authors?
The literary world has plenty of big-name, celebrity writers who would appeal to “Dancing With the Stars” viewers and fill the recurring categories of stars that the show likes to cast. For instance…
The names of blockbuster authors are just as recognized as those of blockbuster movie stars. And, in fact, many famous authors have appeared in movies and television. Stephen King has made several cameos in movies based on his books and James Patterson guest-starred in the May 2010 season finale of “Castle.” With famous authors like Nicholas Sparks, Jodi Piccoult, and Dan Brown selling millions of copies of books each year, it’s likely they each have a ready-made audience willing to watch them sink or swim on the dance floor.
Each year, “Dancing With the Stars” likes to cast a controversial or boisterous personality (hello, Cloris Leachman and Margaret Cho). The literary world has plenty of its own such characters. For controversy, look no further than author and atheist Phillip Pullman, whose trilogy His Dark Materials is continually banned or challenged for its supposed attack on religion; or young-adult author Laurie Halse Anderson, who just recently defended her novel Speak for its explicit content. Sookie Stackhouse mystery author Charlaine Harris is a sassy southern writer with plenty of charm. And Janet Evanovich, judging from her hilarious Stephanie Plum novels and the amusing bio she wrote for her website, would be an entertaining addition to the cast.
Appeal to Younger Viewers
Author Ally Carter (Heist Society) makes the valid point on her blog: “it’s a fact that Rick Riordan [Percy Jackson and The Olympians] and Jeff Kinney [Diary of a Wimpy Kid] will each draw crowds of 1,000+ screaming tweens whose parents drive for hours to see them and only them; can Cody Linley and Kyle Massey say that?” Each season, “Dancing With the Stars” casts a contestant popular with younger viewers, and I doubt the show would likely turn down the massive appeal of, say, Stephenie Meyer or Meg Cabot. If younger viewers tune in to watch Disney Channel stars, they will tune in to see their favorite authors.
They can’t dance, but they have major appeal to viewers. I’m talking about the likes of Buzz Aldrin (80) or Cloris Leachman (82). Every season, “Dancing With the Stars” casts one of these mature contenders, and often voters keep them on the show much longer than the judges scores would alone. How about popular 70-year-old Irish author Maeve Binchy, whose novels repeatedly make the New York Times Bestsellers List, or 62-year-old Alexander McCall-Smith, author of several popular novel series, including The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency?
The options are, of course, endless. So why not famous authors on “Dancing With the Stars?” It could be a simple oversight, a mistaken assumption that authors are too quiet or reserved to appear on a TV show. Or just maybe “Dancing With the Stars” has in fact tried to cast famous authors who have turned down the opportunity.
See Celebrities Who Turned Down “Dancing With the Stars”
In any case, fans are beginning to notice. Plenty of appeals to cast famous authors on “Dancing With the Stars” have been made, including those by author Ally Carter and Breia Brissey of Entertainment Weekly. We’ll just have to wait and see if those pleas make any future impact on the casting directors.