Monthly Archives: February 2006

Root For The Russian (Episode 5-1)

I’ll preface this by mentioning that most of my Apprentice recaps will be shorter than those for shows like Dancing with the Stars or Survivor. There inevitably comes a point in every season of The Apprentice when I want to throw my remote at the TV, so I’m forced to keep some emotional distance from the show. I just can’t keep buying replacement televisions.

One hero fell, and a new one rose, on tonight’s season premiere of The Apprentice. Tarek, the dead-ringer for Orlando Bloom, proved himself to be a total idiot. And Lenny, or “The Russian,”as Donald Trump called him, became the show’s evil darling, cackling at his enemy’s misfortune.

Tarek seemed like an early favorite until he opened his mouth. He introduced himself as a member of Mensa, a signal that he has no social skills. “Hi, I’m Tarek, and I pay membership dues so that I can say I’m smarter than you.”

Trump chose Tarek and blonde Harvard Business grad Allie to pick teams, which they named Gold Rush and Synergy, respectively. Allie’s best pick was Sean, whose British accent will undoubtedly be the focus of many of the team’s marketing campaigns.

Lenny was the last man left and wound up on Tarek’s team. Perhaps he was undervalued because of his Russian accent. NBC deemed it heavy enough to occasionally subtitle his comments. But, as Tarek was grilled by Trump in the boardroom, Lenny’s accent made his derisive laughter that much more delicious.

In this week’s challenge, Team Gold Rush had sold three fewer Sam’s Club memberships than did team Synergy, and project leader Tarek was held partially responsible.

Tarek tried to defend his management style, but Trump retorted, “The Russian didn’t like it.” This, after he compared Lenny’s task assignment of riding in a blimp to being sent to Siberia. Trump is nothing if not sensitive to former citizens of the Soviet Union.

Ultimately, restaurant owner Summer was fired because she didn’t make a few phone calls — and because she was dumb enough to interrupt Trump while he was berating Legolas, er, Tarek. As Summer left, Trump told Tarek her foolishness had saved the Mensan. Lenny said, “Not for long.”

Hopefully, the bad blood between Lenny and Tarek will make for good TV in the weeks to come.

The Amazing Race 9 Predictions

Tuesday night, eleven teams embark on another race around the world. It’s time for the premiere of The Amazing Race 9, and, after the lackluster Family Edition, it’s not a day too soon. Which teams will soar to the finish, and which teams won’t even be cleared for takeoff?

In likely order of elimination, here are our predictions…

David and Lori
These two compose the self-proclaimed nerd team. However, at the official TAR website, they don’t mention any typical nerd interests (e.g., Dungeons & Dragons, Anime, involuntary abstinence, etc.). David plays in a band, and Lori manages a Pizza Hut. I’m a nerd, one of the latest in a long line of nerds, and I want to like this team. But CBS hasn’t offered much information on them. So, they’re either the season’s surprise team — and CBS is holding out on the good footage — or they’ll likely be the first couple eliminated.

Ray and Yolanda
These Florida transplants to Chicago haven’t done much traveling, and they aren’t strong in any foreign languages (Ray does claim to read minds, but can he read foreign minds?). On top of that, they’ve dated for five years, but haven’t yet decided if they’ll get married. An unsettled relationship has doomed many a team on TAR, and Ray and Yolanda may be the next victims.

Lake and Michelle
This team is the control group in the race. Lake and Michelle seem like a nice, average American couple — married for 13 years with three kids — and they probably won’t ruffle any feathers. But, because of their lack of international travel experience and only a minimal knowledge of Spanish between them, they may be overwhelmed early.

Danielle and Dani
It’s always hard to predict how the hot chick team will do. In Season 6, Lena and Kristy went out well before their time, while Season 5’s Kami and Karli inexplicably survived to the final five. Danielle and Dani just graduated from college, and a youthful lack of patience may work against them. These best friends from Staten Island never fight. So, no matter how long they last, at least they’ll enjoy themselves before they get eliminated.

Lisa and Joni
These Southern sisters are using the race as a chance to get to know each other again. After last season’s bickering Godlewski sisters, this may not be such a good idea. If they win, they plan on spending the money on plastic surgery, which is so honestly shallow, it’s endearing.

John and Scott
John is an early sentimental favorite. He’s tired of being afraid of things (he hasn’t flown in eight years), and he wants to become more of a risk taker. He and his buddy, Scott, may get what they need from the race early, and not have the perseverance to see it through to the end.

Joseph and Monica
This young, attractive couple loves participating in adventurous outdoor activities. Joseph is a devoted hunter, and his accuracy could be a big asset in challenges. The two say they know not to take any disagreements personally on the race, an attitude that’s probably an even bigger asset. Their lack of travel experience may be the only thing that keeps them from the front of the pack.

Wanda and Desiree
Wanda used to be a flight attendant, so she and her daughter, Desiree, have traveled together extensively. Because they’ll always be family, they don’t have the same concerns about the future that the romantically involved couples do. They may be very likable, which is why they’ll follow the show’s tendency for a well-liked team to finish in fourth place.

Eric and Jeremy
Teams of young, buff guys always seem to do well. Jeremy has the advantage of having lived in Kenya for two years, and he speaks Swahili. But Eric’s admitted lack of ambition could keep them from finishing at the top.

Fran and Barry
These Colorado retirees are not the typical “old couple” team. They’ve traveled to 45 countries, and they never make hotel reservations in advance. It takes a lot of guts to show up in China with no place to sleep and without speaking the language. After forty years of marriage, Fran and Barry have learned to take things in stride. TAR could be a walk in the park for them.

BJ and Tyler
The bearded guys from the season’s promos, BJ and Tyler are best friends who combined their class clown powers to become, in their own words, a comedic “Voltron.” They have lots of international travel experience, having met while attending Semester-at-Sea, a school taught on a ship that circumnavigates the globe. They know more languages than any other team; Tyler speaks Spanish and Japanese, and BJ speaks Spanish, German, and Russian.

According to the duo, their only weaknesses are Tyler’s tendency for homesickness and BJ’s penchant for napping. Barring any huge mistakes or streaks of bad luck, there’s no reason that these goofy guys can’t run away with the whole thing.

Dynamo Drew Wins (Episode 2-8A)

As the winners of the second season of Dancing with the Stars, Drew and Cheryl took home the cheesy trophy. Their deserving victory was a welcome ending to a filler-filled finale.

The evening got off to an awkward start, as the seven previously eliminated couples were reintroduced. Each couple did a lap around the floor, unsure whether they were supposed to be walking or dancing to the house band’s version of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” Fortunately, Max lightened the mood by doing the moonwalk.

Though they’d each done two dances on Thursday, the show’s three finalist couples, Drew & Cheryl, Jerry & Anna, and Stacy & Tony, weren’t done performing just yet. Each couple had created a new routine in their favorite discipline, and the performance was to be scored by the judges. This new score would get added to the judges’ totals from Thursday night.

Jerry and Anna were up first, Cha Cha Cha-ing to Aretha Franklin’s “Think.” Just before they hit the floor, Anna whispered, “Enjoy it!” to Jerry, and he did. He smiled throughout the whole performance, and his technique was better than ever.

Bruno noticed the improvement, complimenting Jerry on his footwork and dubbing the couple, “The Lady and the Champ.” Len said that Jerry had accomplished something to tell his grandkids about someday, and Carrie Ann assured Jerry that the judges never gave up on him.

Their scores reflected it, as the new dance earned straight nines, for a total of 27 points. Jerry and Anna had tallied a combined score of 80/90 for their dances this week. Jerry said that, even if he hadn’t done enough to win outright, he was confident that he couldn’t be caught if he simply ran off with the trophy after the show.

Stacy and Tony went next with a new Samba routine, hoping to make up for the poor scores their freestyle number received on Thursday. Since Tony felt that the judges had rewarded tricks in the freestyle, he made sure to throw a few into the Samba.

While dancing to Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” Stacy followed Jerry’s example and enjoyed herself. She and Tony had lots of energy, and their technique was perfect, as always. Carrie Ann thanked them for setting the standard so high for the rest of the competition. Len said that Stacy had captivated his heart, and that no celebrity will ever be able to Samba as well as her.

Bruno told Stacy to expect choreographers to line up, offering to create dances for her. Presumably Bruno is already at the head of that queue, since he is, after all, a choreographer.

Stacy and Tony earned yet another perfect score from the judges, bringing their three-dance total to 86/90.

Drew and Cheryl had the difficult task of topping their bombastic freestyle routine, so they included a trick in their Jive that could make or break them. Drew had to jump over a standing Cheryl, who, in heels, is at least the same height as Drew. If he didn’t execute the jump perfectly, Cheryl might’ve been snapped in half.

With Drew in blue rhinestone shoes, and Cheryl dressed in an outfit inspired equally by Elvis and Barbarella, they boogied to “Hound Dog” — and executed the jump perfectly. Carrie Ann commended them on their risky routines, and Bruno praised Drew for being a reliable “dynamo.” Len said that Drew approached the competition with guns a-blazin’, like Wyatt Earp.

Straight nines from the judges earned the couple a score of 27, and earned the judges a loud and lengthy chorus of boos from the audience. The total judges’ score for Drew and Cheryl was 87/90, enough to clinch them first place in that aspect of the show’s scoring. Drew said that a win would be great for Cheryl, as the show has been such a wonderful platform for ballroom dancing.

Before announcing the couple with the lowest combined judge and audience scores, special guest Mary J. Blige performed. She was accompanied by Salsa champs Rodrigo Guzman & Yesenia Adame, who had also performed an exhibition for the week four results show.

It was then time to close the first half of the show by announcing the first couple out of trophy contention: Stacy and Tony.

After he announced their names, host Tom Bergeron said, “You could feel the air go out of the place.” Tia Carrere, sitting in the audience, mouthed, “Wow.” And there were many audible gasps in the studio.

During a montage of performance and interview clips, Stacy told Tony, “I am where I am because of you.” He said he’d gained a lifelong friend in Stacy. They both reacted to the clips with tears.

After the montage, Stacy’s voice cracked as she told Drew she was one of his biggest fans. She told Jerry that she’d love to dance with him some time. Both of the men looked brokenhearted, again confirming that this group of contestants really did get along.

Stacy’s tearful farewell should help quell critics who called her unemotional throughout the season. To some, her dancing may have seemed that way, but she herself certainly wasn’t.

In the episode’s second hour, the filler portion commenced with performances by the season’s first four eliminated couples. Kenny & Andrea did the Cha Cha Cha; Tatum & Nick waltzed; Giselle & Jonathan did the Rumba; and Ashly did the Jive, as Master P stomped around the floor.

After a commercial break, the next three eliminated couples danced. Tia & Max did their crowd-pleasing Tango. But instead of ending with a quick drop to the floor, as they had done during the competition, Max gently lowered Tia down to the ground. He was a perfect gentleman, and his hair looked better than ever. George & Edyta then did a fun Fox Trot, and Lisa & Louis concluded the set with an enthusiastic Jive.

Tom talked briefly with a few of the celebs as they sat in the audience. Kenny seemed to think that, if Stacy could be eliminated on a night where she got a perfect score, then he was still in contention for the trophy. Master P plugged the nonexistent new sitcom he’ll be starring in with George, “Home Boys.” And Lisa put the kibosh on George’s budding romance with Stacy.

Mary J. Blige performed again, without any dancers this time. As far as filler material went, it seemed a little out of place. A montage of Drew and Jerry would’ve been more appropriate.

Be careful what you wish for. After Blige, we were treated to two montages each about Jerry and Drew, and their respective journeys to the finals.

More interesting than this show filler was seeing DWTS’s impact on our culture. A pair of the commercials shown during the show might never have existed without it. Antonio Banderas introduced a preview of his upcoming dancing flick, Take the Lead. And Hanes employed an all-female dance company to demonstrate the comfort and flexibility of their undies. Wait’ll we get our integrated marketing strategy on you.

Finally, it was time for the winner to be announced. Drew and Cheryl celebrated, as Tom announced they were the winners of Dancing with the Stars 2.

Unfortunately for Jerry, Stacy’s elimination had made it mathematically impossible for him to win, although Drew had been gracious enough to pretend that he didn’t know. In defeat, Jerry thanked Anna for believing in him, and he said that he was glad he took the chance to try something new.

Drew, whose wife is expecting a baby any day, said he was the luckiest man in the world. He held the trophy he’d previously called “ugly” at arms length, giving Jerry an opportunity to make a mock grab for it.

Dancing with the Stars 2 ended on a more satisfying note than season one did. And for once, the outro music was actually appropriate: “He’s the Greatest Dancer” by Sister Sledge.


Update: Lisa Rinna is a guest on Monday night’s episode of The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC, and Cheryl and Drew will perform on ABC’s The View on Tuesday. Elizabeth Hasselbeck better not wear her “Vote 4 Master P” shirt again.

Austin of Nazareth (Episode 12-4)

Ruth Marie’s promise of loyalty wasn’t enough to persuade the La Mina Boy’s Club to keep her around instead of the younger, fitter Sally. La Mina needs all the strength it can muster to stop the misfit juggernaut tribe, Casaya.

After the last Tribal Council, Sally returned to the La Mina camp stunned by Misty’s ouster — and acutely aware that she was probably the next to go. The next morning, Dan virtually assured this by asking Ruth Marie to join the the tribe’s four guys in their voting block.

But Ruth Marie should’ve been more skeptical of Dan’s offer to take her to the final five. It was poorly disguised code for, “The best you can do is fifth place.”

Over at the Casaya tribe’s camp, Shane, Bruce, and Aras returned from collecting snails to find Bobby and Danielle asleep, while Courtney did yoga. Cirie, apparently the only Casayan to realize the fire had gone out, was collecting firewood.

As the tribe struggled to rekindle their fire, Aras and Shane took this opportunity to lecture their tribemates. It’s one thing to be considered lazy enough that you need to be lectured about camp responsibility. But the slothfulness may be getting out of hand when you need to be awakened to even hear that lecture.

Contrarian Courtney objected to being told she was irresponsible, but didn’t explain how her Downward-Facing Dog pose was helping her tribe. In an interview, Aras said that he’d considered throwing an Immunity Challenge just to get rid of her.

This week’s Reward Challenge was a floating water puzzle. Each tribe member retrieved one triangular puzzle piece anchored to the bottom of the sea. After dragging the piece back to a floating, hexagonal puzzle frame, the piece needed to be hoisted over the side of the frame and pulled completely inside before the next team member could go — no easy feat since the pieces were heavy and the frame reached almost one foot over the surface of the water.

Once all six of the pieces were inside a frame, tribe members would work together to match symbols on the sides of each puzzle piece. The tribe who first placed all six of their pieces correctly, won.

Cirie sat out the challenge, now that Casaya had one more member than La Mina. The tribes stayed neck-and-neck dragging their puzzle pieces back to the frame. But Casaya solved their puzzle quickly, while some of La Mina’s pieces had escaped the frame altogether. As part of their reward, Casaya sent La Mina leader Terry to Exile Island for the next two days.

After three weeks of unsponsored rewards, Casaya won the season’s first corporate-sponsored reward: Casa de Charmin. It consisted of an outhouse, a bush shower and sink, some towels, a few bars of soap, and plenty of rolls of Charmin. Finally, Cirie would be able to use something besides the leaves she finds so frightening.

Back at camp, Casaya spent a few moments fawning over their new outhouse before deciding it would be most useful as a wood storage shed. Bobby ignored his teams wishes, announced that he needed to “drop a deuce,” and proceeded to christen the Casa. The tribe’s disapproval didn’t faze him, as he told them upon returning, “I feel 10 pounds lighter!”

Things were a different kind of crappy at La Mina. Without Terry to guide them, the rest of the tribe floundered. Hundreds of fish jumped in the water mere feet from Nick’s raft, but he couldn’t get a nibble on his fishing line. And as soon as Austin and Dan built a fire, it started to rain.

Terry, on the other hand, was doing quite well by himself on Exile Island. He focused on finding the hidden individual Immunity Idol. He knew from previous week’s clues that the idol was above the tide line, that it was buried underground, and that the word “why” figured in to its whereabouts.

This week’s clue said that the idol was hidden under a rock. Terry found a tree with Y-shaped branches, turned over a rock, and began to dig. A short way down, he found a box containing the immunity idol: a desiccated, shrunken head he described as “beautiful.” I have a feeling that, when Terry calls his wife beautiful, it might not mean so much to her anymore–unless she, too, is desiccated and shrunken.

After finding the idol, Terry started a fire and was able to drink some of the nasty water that production had provided for this season’s exiles. There’s a reason why he’s called Super Terry back at camp.

Before heading to the Immunity Challenge, Casaya found time to squeeze in one last argument. Shane and Aras decided to move the fire pit closer to the shelter, and Cirie helped dig the new pit. As Danielle practiced her supervisory skills, standing two feet from Cirie and watching her shovel, Shane again confronted Danielle about her poor work ethic.

Danielle defended herself, and tried to deflect the argument to the equally lazy Bobby. But Shane rallied support for his position, calling in first Aras and then Cirie to back him up. Cirie, normally adept at staying out of her tribe’s conflicts, caved and admitted that Danielle didn’t work as hard as some of the other tribe members.

In an interview, Cirie described the crumbling alliance between Shane, Aras, Courtney, and Danielle as a “psychotic joke.”

At the Immunity Challenge, the inept La Minans were overjoyed to have Terry back to lead them. In the challenge, one member of each tribe sat on a swing, which was connected via pulleys to a raised, empty barrel. As the barrel was filled with water, it would eventually weigh enough to sink to the ground, and the swing would rise. The seated tribe member could then pull a pin near the top of the contraption, and the tribe’s flag would unfurl. The tribe whose flag was displayed first won immunity.

To get the water necessary to fill their barrel, two tribe members crossed a zig-zagging balance beam across the beach, carrying a small pail in each hand. But the pair was roped together and could only move as fast as its slowest member. After crossing the beam, both team members filled their pails in the ocean and headed back across the balance beam.

If either member fell off the beam at any point, both had to forfeit their water and return to the start.

After returning with full pails, the competitors emptied their water into a bucket. The bucket was hoisted up by a rope by another tribe member stationed in a crow’s nest. That tribe member then emptied the bucket into the raised barrel.

Casaya paired Courtney with Shane, and Aras with Bruce. Danielle sat on the swing, and Cirie stood in the crow’s nest. Bobby sat out the challenge.

La Mina made the dumb decision to have Nick stand in the crow’s nest, instead of having him navigate the beams. The gangling, older Dan would’ve been a more obvious choice. But Dan paired with Terry, and Sally with Austin. That left skinny Ruth Marie sitting in the swing.

What slowed both teams down was having to wait for their slower pairs to cross their balance beam. Sally & Austin and Courtney & Shane consistently finished filling their buckets before their other tribemates had even crossed the beam. Dan actually fell off the beam at one point, and had to stop and regain his balance at a few others.

Both teams stayed relatively even throughout the competition. Eventually, each barrel was just a bucket away from being heavy enough to lift its swing. Courtney and Shane quickly filled their bucket, so that Cirie could add its contents to their barrel. At the same time, Austin poured the contents of his and Sally’s pails into their bucket slowly and carefully, not realizing how full their barrel was.

Danielle rose in her swing and pulled Casaya’s pin first. Ruth Marie followed on her swing just seconds later.

Casaya was gleeful in victory. Bruce and Aras splashed pails of water on each other, squealing like schoolgirls and even dousing Bobby.

Upon returning to camp, the rest of La Mina asked Terry some vague questions about his search for the hidden idol on Exile Island. But they never got around to asking him whether he’d actually found it. They were just happy to have him back assigning them chores.

Knowing she was a lock for elimination, Sally started campaigning for herself. She told Nick and Austin that she wanted to stay, but she’d respect them no matter what they did. She went to Terry, arguing that her strong performance in recent challenges was more beneficial to the team than anything Ruth Marie could contribute.

Austin went to bat for Sally, too. He told Terry that keeping her would improve La Mina’s chances of bringing five people to the merge. Austin reasoned that, if the tribes merged and only the four La Mina men remained, they’d be picked off by the Casayans one at a time. And Terry would be the first one targeted.

Austin said that only Dan, and not the other men, had promised Ruth Marie final five. Dan thought that was a cop-out, and he refused to break his word with Ruth Marie. He felt that Ruth Marie’s loyalty was more valuable than Sally’s strength. After a merge, he was sure that Sally would switch sides.

But pragmatic Terry realized that they needed to get to the merge intact before worrying about loyalty issues, and he agreed that Sally should stay. Austin was pleased that he’d been able to pull off such a miracle, saying, “Apparently, I got some Jesus of Nazareth-like powers myself.”

The women made the same arguments for themselves at Tribal Council that the men had made throughout the day. Sally said that her best days are the challenge days. And Ruth Marie said that, while they might not need her tomorrow, they’d need her loyalty later on. As she said this, the cymbal crash of foreshadowing clanged, meaning that Sally’s loyalty could indeed become an issue in later episodes.

Ultimately, Dan kept his word and didn’t vote against Ruth Marie. But his vote couldn’t save her, and Ruth Marie hit the road, by a 4-2 vote.

Next time, Bruce builds a zen garden, and Courtney uses it for yoga practice. Then their camp is washed out by a flood. Did Courtney upset some kind of karmic balance?

Also, La Mina gets hit with a stomach bug. They’re really sorry they didn’t win all that Charmin.

All-American Peanut Girl (Episode 2-8)

Drew and Cheryl performed two of the season’s best routines on tonight’s Dancing with the Stars performance show finale. They dare you to vote for anyone else.

DWTS faced stiff competition from other networks tonight, going up against not only weekly CBS rival Survivor, but also a special edition of American Idol on Fox, and the Olympics on NBC. Consequently, the first hour of DWTS was full of recaps, and none of live dances aired until the second hour of the program — after Survivor and American Idol had finished.

The finale began with a recap of each of Drew & Cheryl’s past performances. Carrie Ann used a great word to describe the couple’s relationship on the floor. Rather than the oft-used term “chemistry,” Carrie Ann called their relationship a “partnership.” Throughout the footage of their practices and performances, both members of the couple seemed equally committed to making Drew into a great dancer.

Cheryl pointed out that, after Drew’s raised shoulders were criticized by the judges, the couple made lowering his shoulders the focus of the next week’s training. For all of the grief the judges take from the contestants and the audience, it’s nice to know the dancers really take the advice to heart.

During a montage of Jerry’s performances with Anna, Jerry admitted that he was so self-conscious early on that he had trouble enjoying the dances. Anna always tried to make things as comfortable as possible for Jerry. But, with all of its required hip action, the Tango will never be one of Jerry’s favorite dances.

Stacy & Tony were shown last, and watching her Samba again was a reminder that she had a couple of stellar performances in her repertoire worth repeating for the finale. Instead of the Samba, she chose to repeat the Jive, another dance that had earned her a perfect score from the judges. Drew chose to bring back his thrilling Paso Doble, and Jerry selected his elegant Fox Trot.

Before any of tonight’s live performances, the judges nominated some of their favorites among the exhibition routines performed by the professional couples this season. Louis was singled out for his choreography of the four-couple Paso Doble to the theme from Rocky. The dance demonstrations were followed by a brief montage of the season’s musical guests.

The night’s first live performance wasn’t by one of the competing celebrities. Co-host Samantha Harris teamed up with Anna’s husband, Jonathan, with whom she Jived to Prince’s “Delirious.” Samantha committed herself to the performance, and she finished her moves well. Assuming she’s back for season three, she should push the network for another chance to dance.

After Samantha’s Jive, the competition finally began.

Round 1 – Favorite Dance

Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya: A second opportunity to perform the Fox Trot was just what Jerry needed. He looked more relaxed than he had in any other performance, and, though Jerry will never fool anyone into thinking he’s a pro, his attitude and improved skills allowed the dance to flow smoothly. Len said it was the couple’s best performance, and Carrie Ann said Jerry finally looked like he was having fun. Bruno offered the only criticism, saying the performance lacked drive. Len told Bruno he was just being “judgmental.”

Jerry appreciated the kind words from the judges, but Anna challenged Bruno to a showdown on the football field.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 26/30

Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani: Following Carrie Ann’s orders to take more risks, Stacy and Tony spent a day at trapeze school. Conquering her fear of heights gave Stacy more confidence for the lift they’d be performing during their freestyle routine. Early attempts had Stacy hanging like a bag of laundry over Tony’s shoulder.

The reprise of their Jive was just as flawless as before. Carrie Ann praised their synchronization of timing and movement, and Len congratulated Stacy for meeting the high standard she’d set for herself.

Bruno caused some confusion when he called Stacy an “All-American Peanut Girl.” Tom asked Bruno if he’d said “peanut” or “pin-up.” In his heavy Italian accent, Bruno shouted, “Peen-up! Peen-up!”
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10. Judges’ Total = 30/30

Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke: Drew and Cheryl prepped for their freestyle dance by riding a mechancial bull and partying with friends and family at a Western bar. Tonight’s performance of the Paso Doble was actually their third, as they’d also performed it for a results show encore. It was as strong as ever, and the Thriller hands are always a hoot.

Carrie Ann showed her appreciation by waving her hands in the air, and Bruno said Drew had become “a believable leading man.” Len said that Stacy and Drew were, respectively, the best female and male celebrity from any season he’s judged (USA and UK). When Drew finally stopped screaming and jumping on the backstage couch, he credited Cheryl for all of his success.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10. Judges’ Total = 30/30

Round 2 – Freestyle

Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya: Jerry put weeks of judicial criticism to rest with his freestyle routine. He and Anna danced to the song, “Celebration,” while wearing jumpsuits and afro wigs. The disco-heavy routine suited Jerry perfectly and included exciting lifts and tricks, which played to one of Jerry’s greatest strengths: his strength. If he’d been able to do lifts all season, Jerry’s scores could’ve been a lot higher.

Bruno, who said the couple looked like Shaft and Jackie Brown, complimented Jerry for being a big enough man to pull off such a “cheeky” routine. Len said that he hadn’t had this big a laugh since his last wife left him.

Backstage, Anna attributed Jerry’s newfound looseness to his wig. He said it was just time to get funky. When Anna started to boogie as Jerry was interviewed, he stopped her by saying, “Slow down. Daddy’s talking.”
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 9. Judges’ Total = 27/30

Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani: Stacy and Tony also tried to woo the crowd with disco, dancing to “Staying Alive.” While Tony channeled John Travolta effectively, and Stacy hit every move, the routine felt slow and uninspired. Even the big lift at the end looked sloppy. Their first choreographic misstep couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The judges felt so, too. Carrie Ann appreciated that Stacy went for the lift, but said she expected more from them. Tony lashed back that he “wouldn’t expect any different” from Carrie Ann. But Len cautioned that his opinion wasn’t any more favorable than Carrie Ann’s, and neither was Bruno’s. Stacy’s consistently good performances had set her bar very high, and this just wasn’t as good as the previous routines Tony had choreographed.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 9, Bruno – 9. Judges’ Total = 26/30

Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke: Dancing to the boisterous Big & Rich tune, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” Drew and Cheryl dressed up in western gear and gave an enthusiastic, entertaining show for the audience. During the performance, Cheryl hopped onto a writhing Drew, and held on as if he were a mechanical bull. The dance ended with Drew pantomiming a pistol with his finger, and Cheryl blowing off the smoke.

Carrie Ann called the performance fearless, and Len said it was “everything freestyle should be.” Bruno said that Drew was ready to play the lead in Brokeback Mountain: The Musical, prompting Drew to cover his tush with his cowboy hat.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10. Judges’ Total = 30/30

Leaderboard:
1 – Drew & Cheryl (60/60)
2 – Stacy & Tony (56/60)
3 – Jerry & Anna (53/60)

While tonight’s performances were the last that would be voted on by the public, the three remaining couples will have to dance for the judges one more time on Sunday night. The final judges’ totals will then be tallied, and the ultimate outcome will be determined that night.

As always, audience votes make up half of the score, and Tom explained how the winner will be determined. The couple with the most audience votes is awarded 3 points, second place earns 2 points, and last earns 1 point. Points are awarded in the same manner for the judges’ scores: first place gets 3 points, etc.

It’s possible that the couple ranking third with the judges could win if they score first with the audience. In case of a tie, the winner of the audience vote wins. So if the judges’ champ comes in last with the audience, the audience winner is the overall victor.

But it looks like Drew and Cheryl have this in the bag. They should finish no lower than second in the audience voting, and, unless Drew’s pants fall down during their final dance, they’ve locked up the judges’ vote.

In addition to one more dance from the three finalists, Mary J. Blige will perform Sunday. And all of the eliminated couples will return to dance again. That can mean only one thing: MAX.

My vote this week: I gave my votes to my favorite couple from each round. Stacy’s Jive was my favorite from Round 1, and Drew easily won Round 2. Only a few short days until we find out… whose Beguine reigns supreme?

Catching Up with the Rock Stars

With a second season of Rock Star set to return this summer,
it seems like a good time to catch up with the performers from the
first season. Was losing to J.D. a good thing for any of them?

Marty Casey (http://www.martycasey.com/)
Marty certainly benefitted from his exposure on the show. His band
wisely (or at the insistence of their label, Epic) changed their name
to Marty
Casey & Lovehammers, and they’re currently touring to promote their
recently-released album. They’ve even been opening for INXS on the Switch tour.

At their website, all of the band members contribute to a frequently updated tour diary.

Mig Ayesa (http://www.migayesa.com/home.html)
Mig’s in London recording an EP at the moment. His website contains almost all
of the information you’d ever want on Mig — although his resume makes no
mention of his stint as Wags the Dog on the kid’s TV show, The Wiggles.

Suzie McNeil (http://www.suziemcneil.com/)
Suzie’s working with music industry legend John Kalodner, the man who
introduced us to Foreigner, XTC, Sammy Hagar, Nelson, and White Zombie.
Kalodner was also largely responsible for the Footloose and Top Gun soundtracks. (He could’ve had the 80s trifecta, if only he’d worked on The Lost Boys, too.)

Of all the Rock Star: INXS contestants, Suzie has the best
website. Her webmaster updates the site often, Suzie herself blogs
frequently, and there’s even an interview in which INXS reveals that
Andrew Farriss was pushing for Suzie to win.

Jordis Unga (http://www.jordismusic.com/)
Looks like Jordis has become labelmates with Marty. According
to her site, she’s currently recording her debut album for Epic. The
site’s homepage either has four pictures of Jordis, or her whole band is made up
of clones.

Deanna Johnston (http://www.deannajohnston.net/)
Deanna’s hippie-friendly site (virtual hacky sack not included) is
updated several times each month. It includes information on upcoming
performances.

Jessica Robinson (http://www.covergurlrocks.com/)
Jessica’s playing shows in the Chicago area with her band, Cover Gurl.
The band’s bassist is called JET, a name so cool, he’s gotta be good.

Brandon Calhoon (http://www.brandoncalhoon.com/)
Brandon’s playing shows with a band that he doesn’t bother to name on his website.

Tara Slone (http://www.taraslone.com/)
Tara’s official website is actually a bit of a paradox. It claims that it will be coming soon, and yet it’s already there!

Heather Luttrell (http://www.heatherluttrell.com/)
Heather plays shows twice a month in the Atlanta area, but things must
not be going well. There’s a page where you can donate money to take
care of her pets.

Daphna Dove (http://www.myspace.com/daphnadove)
Daphna just joined the band Shotgun Valentine a few days ago. She
threatens that the band will “kick you in the head with love,” so take
cover.

Neal Carlson (http://www.bonaroba.net/band.html)
Neal’s band Bona Roba played a Valentine’s Day show at CBGB with Marty
Casey & Lovehammers. Their site is up-to-date and easy to navigate.
The band members each look like Glenn Frey at a different point in
history, but there’s no word on whether Neal’s band covers “Smuggler’s
Blues.”

Wil Seabrook (http://www.wilseabrook.com/)
Wil doesn’t even mention that he was on Rock Star on his website. Give
credit where it’s due, buddy. You’re lucky we even remember who you are.

J.D. Fortune (http://www.jdfortune.com/)
Officially, he’s at http://www.inxs.com/, but his other website looks like a lot more fun.

At
this time, Dana Robbins and Ty Taylor don’t have official websites.
They’d better promote themselves soon, before the second wave of rock
hopefuls takes CBS’s stage and bumps them from the spotlight forever.

GQ Stands for Men’s Fashion (Episode 2-6)

After weeks of challenges that pushed the guys out of their comfort zones, it was time for the girls to feel really uncomfortable on Beauty and the Geek. All of the girls came to the same conclusion after hitting on guys in a bar while not wearing makeup: dating sucks.

The show began as Ankur & Jennipher returned to the group after eliminating Karl & Danielle. In an interview, Jennipher vowed to do everything she could to keep Cher from winning. Her sentiment was part of what Josh described as the strange combination of camaraderie and competition felt by the remaining contestants.

When teams received their study materials the next day, the girls were given a special assignment. Their materials included a note instructing them to ask one of the geeks, other than their partner, out on a date.

This was a new experience for the beauties, none of whom had ever asked a guy out to dinner before. All of them were nervous, even though they were hardly asking out strangers. But the guys were flattered (and pleased) by the anxiety the girls expressed during their awkward proposals.

Brittany was especially worried about her date with Ankur, because they’re so different from one another; she likes Diet Coke and he likes “this fruity stuff.” But she had a positive attitude, and used her date as an opportunity to listen to someone else for a change. Jennipher, who had dinner with Josh, took the same approach. Not only did the two girls learn a lot about their dates, they also had a much easier time than the other two pairs of daters.

Sarah, who picked Joe because they had developed a friendship, was disgusted when he blew his nose in his silk napkin. And Cher, who’d already made out with Wes in Las Vegas, realized at dinner that they had a hard time finding anything to talk about when under the pressure of a semi-official date.

The date itself was awkward, but that didn’t stop Wes and Cher from hooking up again that night.

At the guys’ challenge the next day, the girls were in for another surprise. They were to be the models in a photo shoot directed by the guys. Each geek picked out an evening gown and set of lingerie for his partner to wear for the shoot.

The prospect of Ankur picking out her clothes was enough to make Jennipher shriek. And Cher said that, on the list of people she least wanted to choose lingerie for her, Josh ranked second — after her father.

Things went smoothly enough at most of the shoots, although it was clear that none of the geeks has a future in fashion photography. Sarah looked like a sausage lying on a couch, thanks to Wes’s poor direction.

A panel of fashion experts and photographers judged two shots of each of the beauties. Brittany looked the most comfortable in her photos, so Joe was unanimously declared the winner.

What could be worse than posing for photos in underwear picked out by a geek? Begging guys to buy you drinks when you’re not wearing makeup. For their challenge, the beauties arrived at the House of Blues, wearing no makeup and without fixing their hair, as instructed. Only then did they find out that they’d be going to a party, just as soon as they changed into some unflattering thrift store outfits.

In one hour, the girls had to get as many men to buy them drinks as possible. There were plenty of attractive girls at the party, and for the first time, the beauties weren’t counted among them.

By the time the beauties arrived, most of the attendees had already formed cliques, and Sarah found it especially hard to talk to people. After being blown off several times, the four girls commiserated with each other, too dejected to talk to anyone new. They agreed that, if that was how they were normally treated at bars, they simply wouldn’t go.

By the one hour deadline, Sarah had been offered only one drink, and Cher, just two. Jennipher, who’d approached men aggressively throughout the challenge, earned the victory with five drinks bought for her. Before the challenge, Jennipher thought she would have the confidence to beat Cher in an elimination round, but her confidence was exactly what helped her win the challenge, and avoid–or at at least delay–such a showdown.

The geeks appreciated that the girls could now relate to the discomfort they often feel in social situations. Josh explained that the reason he doesn’t dance in public is because you really are being judged. He felt that it was an important lesson for the beauties to learn.

With Ankur & Jennipher and Joe & Brittany safe, Josh & Cher were sent back to the elimination round to square off against Wes & Sarah. Wes and Cher spent the day snuggling, since one of them would be leaving that night.

As always, the girls were up first during the elimination round. This time, they answered questions about topics that men like to talk about. Cher went a perfect three-for-three, answering her questions about beer and sports correctly. Sarah struggled, guessing that the G.Q. in Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine stood for “Men’s Fashion.” Her partner started the next round with a two-point deficit.

Wes could afford no mistakes if he hoped to keep his team in the game. Unfortunately for him, he struggled with his question on the topic of fashion, when he couldn’t correctly name Paul McCartney’s designer daughter (Stella). Josh answered his first question correctly, sealing the victory for him and Cher.

Wes and Cher had a tearful good-bye, but felt confident they’d see each other again. Sarah and Wes said all of the same stuff everybody else does about how they’ve changed and learned so much. Couldn’t somebody please get pissed that they didn’t win $250,000?

Next time, the field of competitors is down to the final three. For their tasks, the guys have to navigate a shopping mall. The girls have to learn how to navigate, period. Their challenge should be much harder, as map reading isn’t an easy skill. All the guys will need to do is scan those mall information kiosks to find the nearest Dippin’ Dots.