Monthly Archives: February 2006

He Should’ve Cast Magic Missile (Episode 2-5)

Karl didn’t have much to say in any of the previous episodes of Beauty and the Geek, but it was no surprise that he narrated most of episode five. As is reality show tradition, the producers wanted to give him plenty of airtime before he was eliminated.

As the episode began, Josh was disturbed by the lackluster response he and his partner, Cher, received upon returning from the elimination room. Cher explained that their housemates’ coolness was directed at her, not him. As much as everyone feared Chris (whom Josh and Cher eliminated), the rest of the cast seemed to dislike Cher even more.

Everyone was excited to find out that this week’s challenges would take place in Las Vegas. Joe used the bus trip to Vegas to teach the girls how to play poker in preparation for their challenge. None of the girls took Karl up on his offer to teach them Dungeons & Dragons. He didn’t have the charisma to talk them into it.

Upon arriving in Vegas, the beauties and geeks did what all twentysomethings do when they go to Vegas. They drank. With his confidence bolstered — whether by liquor or by his experiences on the show — Joe played drums for the hotel’s dance club band. Cher and geek hunk Wes left the club early to make out in Cher’s room. That left Josh to spend the night on the couch, which is marginally better than the closet. Just ask my husband.

On game day, the girls found out they’d be playing strip poker, but using their geek’s clothes as chips. The couple whose geek ended the game wearing more than just his underwear won the challenge.

Cher quickly realized that her best shot was to bluff her opponents. Three of the beauties fell for her act, leaving Ankur, Wes, and Karl shivering in their briefs. Brittany saw right through Cher and won the challenge with “kings over queens, full house.” If she was able to pick up poker that quickly, maybe Brittany’s faking her flakiness.

After putting their clothes back on, the guys roamed the casino, inviting people to a party that evening. Each guy hosted a catered party in their suite, and the geek with the highest number of women at his party won. Despite having told everyone that his party would be “awesome,” not a single person came to Karl’s soiree.

Josh and Ankur got the best response to their invitations, although Ankur spent most of his event hiding from his drunken guests. Josh schmoozed his way to victory, and only about half of his female guests had their husbands in tow. Cher was thrilled with the win, and Josh was just happy she wouldn’t think of him as a loser anymore.

When it came time to decide who would be sent to the elimination room, Josh wanted to send Sarah & Wes. Cher asked that Josh spare her new boy toy, and he relented. That forced Danielle & Karl to do battle with Jennipher & Ankur, who were selected by Brittany & Joe.

Danielle got her team into an early hole after she failed to answer a single question correctly. Jennipher gave Ankur a two-point lead, meaning he would only need to get two questions right to win. Karl kept pace, answering his first two questions correctly. But Ankur went 2-for-3, so Danielle & Karl went home.

Karl appreciated the confidence he gained from being on the show, but vowed to continue playing Dungeons & Dragons — only now on Wednesday nights instead of Friday. Danielle said she didn’t know she had it in her to help build someone’s confidence the way she did with Karl. The word geek is no longer a part of her vocabulary, she vowed. Karl reminded her to give herself more credit for being smart.

Next time on Beauty and the Geek, the beauties ask the geeks out on dates. After boring dinner conversation with Wes, Cher wonders if what happened in Vegas should’ve stayed in Vegas. The guys direct the girls in a lingerie photo shoot, and Wes makes Brittany uncomfortable by proposing some provocative poses.

Nobody Puts Georgie in a Corner (Episode 2-6A)

George was saved from another painful week of dancing when he was eliminated tonight from Dancing with the Stars. Time for him to check into a Beverly Hills spa for some rest and recuperation.

Lisa and Louis kicked off the show with an encore performance of their Quickstep. Judge Len was most impressed by Lisa’s continued improvement, and he commended Louis and all of the other pros for their hard work. Bruno gave Stacy credit for her well executed Jive, the dance that should be the hardest for her, given her long legs. Carrie Ann gave Jerry’s ego a boost for showing so much commitment in his passionate Paso Doble.

After the encore, co-host Samantha Harris briefly reviewed Thursday night’s performances with the stars who received the lowest scores from the judges, George and Jerry. George said that, if he made it through to next week, he honestly wasn’t sure he’d be physically capable of performing two solo dances. Jerry assured Samantha that scoring in the bottom two was a part of his plan. Everyone roots for the underdog, after all.

Tonight’s first musical performance of the night was by Natasha Bedingfield, whom I’ve never heard of. Her song was uninspiring and made me long for The Pussycat Dolls.

Backstage, Samantha interviewed last night’s perfect tens, Stacy and Drew. The interview was interrupted when George offered Stacy a ring and proposed marriage. She wore the ring for the rest of the show.

Following the proposal, the first pretaped segment of the night highlighted some of the aches and pains suffered by the celebrities. Jerry said that if a move doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right. All of them had blisters and bruises after practicing 6-8 hours per day. Lisa and Stacy touted dancing as the world’s best weight loss method; even Jerry and Drew have slimmed down. And thanks to all of his training, George has pecs of steel.

When the show resumed broadcasting live footage, six of my beloved Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s students performed a Jive exhibition. Sergey Onik & Michelle Glazarov, Boris Leokumovich & Nicole Volynets, and Valentin Chmerkovskiy & Valeriya Kozharinova are some of the top young talents in the world. It doesn’t hurt that all of the guys look like miniature versions of Max. Seeing how easy the girls made dancing look made me curse my parents for not pushing me into dancing as a kid. I could’ve been in Riverdance, Mom!

Valentin Chmerkovskiy is Max’s little brother, and he and his partner performed on the PBS show, America’s Ballroom Challenge, as well. (That show reairs in the Chicago area Saturday night at 10 on WTTW.) Follow this link to read an article written about Valentin shortly after the PBS performance was filmed.

The big celebrity performance of the night was Bill Medley, who sang “Time of My Life” accompanied by his daughter. Tony and Cheryl perfomed the original choreography from Dirty Dancing, which was a welcome distraction from Medley’s raspy singing. Near the end of the song, the student dancers came back out to participate.

Before the voting results were announced, a pretaped segment examined the challenges faced by the professional dancers. Louis knows better than most that the pros have many roles: teacher, coach, therapist. During her interviews, his partner, Lisa, wore a shirt that read “In between crying.” For Tony, the reward is seeing Stacy turn into great dancer.

Jerry & Anna, Drew & Cheryl, and Stacy & Tony were the first couples announced to move on to the semi-finals, leaving George & Edyta and Lisa & Louis in the bottom two. George and Edyta were all smiles as their names were announced as the next couple to go home, and both spoke affectionately about each other. Host Tom Bergeron asked, given George’s fondness for Edyta, how could he keep hitting on Stacy? George responded by begging America to vote for his future wife, Stacy, next week.

With only two weeks remaining, the four best couples remain. Can Lisa and Jerry raise their games to compete with Drew and Stacy? And if they can’t, will it still be satisfying if one of them wins the trophy solely on the basis of popularity?

Quitters Never Win…Right? (Episode 12-2)

To quit or not to quit? That was the question Shane pondered throughout the second episode of Survivor: Panama – Exile Island. Even as he walked to Tribal Council, he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to continue the game. Somebody, get this guy some Nicorette.

The night following the first Tribal Council of the season was rough for everyone, not just the Golden Girls, who had just voted out their first member. A massive storm hit Panama, and all of the teams endured a soggy, sleepless night. Shane was interviewed during the storm, and said that the whole island felt unlucky. Seconds later, Mark Burnett’s prayer was answered. As the camera rolled, Zeus lobbed a lightning bolt right next to where Shane was standing.

After the storm cleared, Shane elaborated on why he was in such a lousy mood. He missed his son, and he felt stupid for coming on the show when his family didn’t need the money. On top of that, he stays very busy in his ordinary life, and the monotony of camp life was driving him nuts. This is who you become when you don’t use your vacation time, people.

Before this week’s Reward Challenge, the original four tribes were dissolved. A man and woman were selected randomly as the first members of two new tribes. Danielle became the first member of the Casaya tribe, and Terry the first member of La Mina. Each of them selected another teammate of the opposite gender, and the new teammates followed suit in a schoolyard pick ’em.

Somehow, La Mina wound up with the Survivor equivalent of the varsity basketball team, while Casaya got the chess club. And Danielle had the first pick! How did it go so wrong? Her first pick was Shane. Here’s the order in which members were picked:

Danielle – Shane – Courtney – Aras – Cirie – Bobby – Melinda
Terry – Sally – Austin – Misty – Nick – Ruth Marie – Dan

Danielle chose Shane because he was “the cool guy with the Boston tattoo.” Presumably, Shane picked Courtney because she’s an outsider like him, Courtney picked Aras because she thinks he’s hot, and Aras picked Cirie because he’s a flake. Cirie gets credit for making the only smart choice of the lot, selecting Bobby because he was the strongest guy left.

Contrast this with Sally, who chose Austin because he was “fast,” and Nick’s choice, Ruth Marie, the strongest woman left. La Mina had a strategy to win. Casaya had no clue what they were doing.

Bruce wasn’t selected by anyone, and therefore had to spend three days on Exile Island. That meant that Bruce wouldn’t participate in the Immunity Challenge, but it also meant that he couldn’t be voted out. Instead, he would take the place of whichever castaway was eliminated next.

There was very little footage of Bruce in exile. He tried to make a fire but broke the flint, and he practiced karate. Apart from enduring a rainstorm alone, Bruce did remarkably well by himself. With his discipline from karate, and the perspective of a 58-year-old, Bruce was probably the person best suited for three days in isolation.

After Bruce parted ways with the other castaways, Casaya suffered the first of what should be many defeats. In a reward challenge, they failed to carry a half-dozen heavy wooden snakes through an obstacle course before La Mina. The winning tribe received fishing gear, including a Hawaiian sling (basically, a pronged fishing spear with a rubber strap), lines, hooks, and a raft.

But La Mina’s victory celebration was cut short back at camp. Onshore, Terry warned his teammates to keep hold of the sling’s strap when firing the spear. Sally was excited to try fishing, so she and Nick took the raft and sling out to some 30-foot-deep water. On her first practice shot, Sally flung the spear into the ocean, where it promptly sank. At that exact moment, somewhere in Indiana, Rupert Boneham wept, without knowing exactly why.

Thank goodness La Mina still has the rest of their prize. They’ll need that raft if they plan on losing the rest of their fishing hooks.

Over at Casaya’s camp, Shane quickly organized an alliance with Aras, Courtney, and Danielle. Cirie and Melinda had a hard time controlling their instinctive eye rolls every time one of their new teammates said “like” or “whoa.”

The Immunity Challenge wasn’t any easier for Casaya than the Reward Challenge. Five tribemates sat with a thatch zombie head inside a leaky boat. Those five bailed water, while the other two team members had to pull the boat ashore by diving underwater and carrying a big box that served as the boat’s anchor. Once ashore, the tribe needed to run and place their zombie head atop a zombie scarecrow’s body.

Casaya struggled to find two people who had the lung capacity and strength to complete the first part of the task. By the time Aras and Courtney proved themselves as Casaya’s strongest underwater duo, Terry and Austin had already pulled La Mina to a speedy victory.

Upon returning to camp, Shane realized that coming on Survivor was the stupidest thing he’d ever done, and asked his tribe to vote him out. But Aras convinced Shane he was just suffering from dehydration, prompting Shane to ask his tribe not to vote him out.

Rather than stopping the nonsense there, Aras told the entire tribe that either Melinda or Cirie was going home that night. Aras said he wanted to play honestly and not blindside anyone. That should work about as well as showing everyone at the poker table your cards before betting begins.

Shane criticized Aras for sounding “insincere.” He then said that whichever of Melinda and Cirie didn’t go home this week was going to be heading home next week. Off-camera, Courtney and Danielle cursed themselves for aligning with two morons.

At Tribal Council, Shane laid out his frustrations for Jeff Probst, including his desire to quit. Melinda and Cirie both expressed frustration at their team for even thinking of keeping someone who didn’t completely want to be there. But their protests went unheeded, and Melinda was voted out. Her replacement, Bruce, must be eager to whip these idiots into shape.

Next week, Misty and Sally use their feminine charms to keep Nick and Austin from aligning with Dan and Terry. And Shane gets mad at someone or something. We’ll have to wait and see if the object of his wrath is real, or if its just those darn sand fleas he yelled at this week.

Flatulating Around (Episode 2-6)

Two couples earned perfect scores in week six of Dancing with the Stars. With all of these 10s being given out, host Tom Bergeron suggested the show take a cue from the movie This Is Spinal Tap and reset the judges’ paddles to 11 for next week. Let’s just hope no one has to dance around a miniature model of Stonehenge.

As the number of couples remaining in the competition dwindles, the show’s intros have gotten progressively longer. The audience didn’t see the first competitive routine until 15 minutes into the program. It will be interesting to see how the show fills 90 minutes next week, with only four couples competing. Too much filler may drive viewers to Survivor, Everybody Hates Chris, or, if they’re really desperate, the Olympics.

There was one spectacular moment during the show’s intro: Max was back! All 10 of the pros demonstrated the dances that would be performed this evening. Ashly & Louis danced the Jive, Jonathan & Anna danced the Tango, Tony & Cheryl danced the Paso Doble, Nick & Andrea danced the Quickstep, and Max & Edyta performed the Rumba. It was a lovely Rumba, despite the fact that they danced to the theme from Titanic.

Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya: The first celeb to perform this evening, Jerry had to muster up some acting skills for the Paso Doble. But he and Anna had some unusual interruptions to their normal training schedule. Anna accompanied Jerry to Detroit for the Super Bowl, where he was honored alongside other past Super Bowl MVPs. As many fans congratulated Jerry on his dancing as on his football accomplishments.

In order to achieve the strong posture required for the dance, Anna handed Jerry a quarter and told him to “hold it between [his] butt cheeks.” Tom quipped that Jerry has become so adept with the quarter that he now dispenses change.

Their performance was solid technically, but felt a little slow. Len said that, while the basics were there, the routine wasn’t exciting. Carrie Ann disagreed, and enjoyed the energy Jerry showed. Bruno thought the routine was simple, but effective.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 7, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 23/30

Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke: Tango practice was interrupted when Drew’s wife and his brother, Nick, attempted to hijack him to watch the Super Bowl. Cheryl refused to let Drew leave until he’d learned his part, a feat made more difficult as Nick sat on the side making cracks like, “Our family name is ruined.”

The final product was a near-perfect routine that showcased great technique in an engaging presentation. Except for the “Thriller” zombie bit that Drew employed during the Michael Jackson song, this is the closest he has come to looking like he’s having a good time dancing, at least in facial expression. It was nice to see. Even if it takes all of his concentration to execute the routine, it shouldn’t look that way to the audience. Compare Drew’s and Jerry’s expressions while dancing to Tony’s and Louis’s, and you’ll see some of what separates the amateurs from the pros.

Len said it was their best dance to date, and Carrie Ann and Bruno enthusiastically agreed.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10. Judges’ Total = 30/30

George Hamilton and Edyta Sliwinska: George was concerned about the Rumba, because a man who rumbas poorly looks effeminate. To prevent that, Edyta brought in her professional partner, Alec Mazo. Alec, looking better than he ever did dancing with Kelly Monaco last season, taught George all of the tricks to making a wrist flick seem manly.

As usual, George and Edyta relied on props to tell their story, including a cigarette holder for the elegant lady and a tray for her waiter. At the end of the routine, Edyta slipped waiter George a hundred dollar bill. Carrie Ann complimented George for executing the Rumba’s hip action, and Bruno described the routine as Dynasty: The Musical. Len was less impressed, criticizing George for not moving enough: “Edyta was flatulating around you.” That may be the case, but Gentleman George never let on that he smelled anything.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 8, Len – 7, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 23/30

Lisa Rinna and Louis van Amstel: More tears from Lisa as she struggled to master the Quickstep in practice. After succeeding with the Latin dances, she was nervous about performing a traditional ballroom dance. To correct Lisa’s posture and help her feel more sophisticated, Louis took Lisa for etiquette lessons. She’s lucky they aren’t required to dance with books on their heads.

Fancy costumes helped create the elegant feeling the Quickstep embodies; Lisa’s dress sported a collar of lavender feathers, and Louis looked like Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island. Their performance was fast and energetic, and it ended with them running up the stairs on the stage. When Len told Lisa she danced with great control, posture, and speed, she shrieked happily, “I did?” Bruno declared that “the emancipation of Lisa is complete.”
Scores: Carrie Ann – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 9. Judges’ Scores = 27/30

Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani: Because the Jive was spread throughout the world by American soldiers during World War II, Tony thought it would be nice to practice their routine in front of some Marines. The soldiers at Camp Pendleton were more than happy to meet Stacy, who forced Tony to do push ups as the Marines counted for him. A sign at the camp read “Dancing with the Stars Is Patriotic,” and I swear I saw few of the military Jeeps with “Support Stacy & Tony” ribbon magnets.

Their fun performance built upon last week’s perfect Samba. The Jive allowed Stacy to show a lot of personality, and credit goes to Tony for finding the best ways to make her the belle of the ball. Early in the competition, Tony had Stacy do a lot of high kicks, as if her legs were all she had going for her. As she’s improved, his choreography has relied less on her legs for wow factor, and has used more difficult footwork and figures to show off her dancing skills.

Len admitted he was nervous about Stacy doing the Jive. If she didn’t execute her kicks quickly enough, her long legs would look silly, but he was impressed with her sharp leg flicks. Bruno was as enthusiastic as ever for his inamorata, Stacy, and Carrie Ann described the performance as “pretty much perfect.”
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10. Judges’ Total = 30/30

Tonight’s group dance was the Viennese Waltz. Because couples turn almost constantly during the dance, there are plenty of opportunities for dance floor collisions. Rehearsal didn’t go smoothly, as Louis struggled to keep everyone on task, which was made all the more difficult when George’s pants fell down. When Louis and Tony danced together to demonstrate Waltz technique, Lisa and Stacy giggled like schoolgirls.

During the live performance, couples took turns soloing in the middle of the floor. Because the group dance isn’t subject to the same restrictions as the judged performances, lifts were permissible. Nearly every pair executed some kind of lift, although Lisa and Louis went for a floor spin move. Since there was no way George could lift Edyta, he did the chicken dance. Really.

According to Len, Stacy & Tony had the best Viennese Waltz technique, but he preferred Drew’s & Cheryl’s solo. Carrie Ann liked the risk Lisa & Louis took for their solo. As one would expect, Bruno liked Stacy’s & Tony’s lift the best.

Leaderboard:
1 – Drew & Cheryl, Stacy & Tony (tie)
3 – Lisa & Louis
4 – Jerry & Anna, George & Edyta (tie)

Jerry may have more harsh words for the judges tomorrow night after placing at the bottom of the leaderboard two weeks in a row. Also, the results show will feature a recreation of the final dance from Dirty Dancing, performed by Tony and Cheryl. Bill Medley himself will provide the accompaniment, as he sings “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Couldn’t they get Jennifer Warnes, too?

My vote this week: I can’t vote for Max anymore, so what’s the point?

Quando Can’t Be Beat

Tony Dovolani and Elena Grinenko won the American Rhythm competition on the finale of America’s Ballroom Challenge. Their victory proves that everyone loves the song “Quando, Quando, Quando.”

Their performance was described by co-host Tony Meredith as “creative, expressive, and sexy.” Tony and Elena walked hand-in-hand onto the dance floor slowly, as if they were walking along the beach. Tony wore a tuxedo shirt and pants, and his bow tie hung loose around his collar. Elena’s slinky blue dress was held in place on her right side by only a rhinestoned clasp, giving the illusion that the dress might come off at any moment. Their seductive Rumba moves told a romantic story, and they left the floor in the same manner that they entered.

At the end of the program, Tony and Elena competed against the winners from the American Smooth, International Standard, and International Latin competitions. Tony and Elena performed a Mambo, complete with bright yellow outfits. Their efforts put them in second place behind International Latin champs Andrei Gavriline and Elena Kryuchkova. Both of Gavriline’s and Kryuchkova’s dances looked more like performance art than ballroom. Give me something from the International Standard division any day.

The real stars of the evening were Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine & Joanna Zacharewicz, the Mambo champions who performed an exhibition dance on last Friday’s Dancing with the Stars. They performed another exhibition for America’s Ballroom Challenge that was just as fun and exciting as the one on DWTS. ABC better pick these two up as pros for DWTS 3!

Wax On, Wax Off (Episode 2-4)

A makeover can only change a person’s outside appearance. Unfortunately for Chris, his spiffed-up exterior didn’t have any effect on his grumpy, insensitive interior. He and his partner Tristin were the latest couple eliminated from Beauty and the Geek.

This week’s challenge was for the guys only, and the winner was allowed to select both of the teams to send to the elimination challenge. It was a fitting prize for the most difficult challenge yet: speed dating.

Before the guys went on their dates, each of the beauties gave her geek a makeover. The girls picked out new clothes, which were invariably a combination of blazer, printed tee, patterned oxford shirt, and jeans. Then the ladies guided stylists through the process of altering their geeks’ hairstyles — and other grooming issues. In most cases, those issues were solved with wax.

Based on the results of the makeovers, the producers cast a bunch of geeks they knew would clean up well. With the floppy hair gone, and Ankur’s chest and unibrow completely waxed, all of the guys looked really good. The ladies especially liked Wes, who lost the glasses and turned into a hottie.

The speed dating challenge took place at a bar. Guys were sent into a room in groups of three, and each guy talked with a date for five minutes before moving on to the next girl. The dates rated each geek’s performance, and the geek with the highest total rating won.

In another part of the bar, the beauties listened in on their geeks’ dates. Sarah almost lost her mind when Wes defied her instructions and told one of his dates that he tracks monkeys with lasers. But Tristin heard more than she wanted to, when Chris told one of his dates that it was nice to talk to a smart girl for a change after spending so much time with Tristin.

Chris’s apology to his tearful partner was one of the worst apologies in recorded history. He explained that he wouldn’t be upset if someone called him socially awkward, because he knew it was true. Likewise, Tristin shouldn’t be upset that he called her dumb. When that didn’t work, he clarified that “academically uninclined” was more accurate than “dumb.” At that point, Tristin left the room.

Wes got the highest scores from the speed daters and won the challenge, with the now mostly-hairless Ankur placing second. One of the girls even left her phone number for Wes. He and Sarah picked Josh & Cher and Chris & Tristin for the elimination round, claiming that the two teams matched up better than anyone else. Tristin was stunned to be sent to elimination for a third consecutive time.

With some encouragement from Ankur, Chris attempted to apologize to Tristin again by making one of his crappy homemade cards. Realizing this was the best she was going to get, Tristin accepted the apology and the two headed to the elimination challenge.

The girls answered questions on all the geeky topics they’d studied since the first episode, while the guys were quizzed on dating etiquette. Tristin put her team at a disadvantage, answering only two of three questions correctly, as Cher got all three.

Then, Chris missed his first question: What nickname, given to guys who date lots of women, comes from the name of a famous Italian adventurer? Chris guessed Lothario. Tristin, who was watching on closed circuit TV, said, “Who’s Lothario? It’s Don Juan de Marco!” (The correct answer was Casanova.)

Although Chris answered his second question correctly, Josh aced all of his, sealing a victory for Cher and him. On their way out, Tristin told Cher, “Remind everyone what it’s all about. It’s not about winning.” Hopefully, Cher will take the advice to heart and relax.

Chris left the show having realized that you can something from everyone, not just other nerds. Tristin came to a similar conclusion, and said, “I didn’t think I was going to fall in love with everyone in the house.” With this season’s villain team gone, will Cher and Josh take their place as the least beloved?

Next time, the beauties and geeks hit the road for an overnight trip to Las Vegas. The girls play strip poker, but it’s the guys who disrobe. Also, the newly made-over Wes makes a move on Cher. Looks like Josh will have to sleep in the closet again.

Tony on PBS and More DWTS News

Tony Dovolani Dances Wednesday on PBS
PBS dropped the ball promoting the reincarnation of Championship Ballroom Dancing. The latest edition is called America’s Ballroom Challenge, and its first episode aired last week. I completely forgot about it, but was lucky enough to catch the rerun on Friday night.

The Challenge deviates from the old CBD format in that it will air in two 1-hour segments instead of one 2-hour long program. The second episode airs this Wednesday night. Tony Dovolani, Stacy Keibler’s professional partner on Dancing with the Stars, is a semi-finalist in the American Rhythm division. His partner, Elena Grinenko, danced formerly with Max Chmerkovskiy. Tony and Elena were amazing in the semifinals, so it will be exciting to see what they do in their solo showdance.

Check out the official website for America’s Ballroom Challenge for more info on the competition.

John and Charlotte’s Instructional DVD
Last season’s rematch champs, John O’Hurley and Charlotte Jorgensen, have wisely capitalized on their DWTS fame and produced an instructional dance DVD. John and Charlotte teach many of the dances, with help from DTWS pros Ashly DelGrosso, Jonathan Roberts, and others. The DVD is available for purchase at LearnToDance.com.

Jerry Rice is the Pro on New Spike Show
Spike TV will be premiering a new sports program on March 6 that pits regular guys against professional athletes. Jerry Rice will be one of the pros competing on Pros Vs. Joes. Jeez, Jerry’s going to be on TV more than John Elway and his Prevacid commercials.

Official Website for Jonathan and Anna
The official website for Jonathan Roberts and Anna Trebunskaya is jonathanrobertsdancer.com.

Can’t Smile Without Max (Episode 2-5A)

The third trip to the bottom two was no charm for Tia and Max, who became the fifth couple eliminated from Dancing with the Stars. But at least they got to see a free Barry Manilow concert before going home.

After a brief recap of last night’s performances, the judges asked Stacy and Tony to perform their Samba again. Another flawless performance showed exactly why you need to practice five days a week to be really good. Right, Master P?

Following the Samba encore, Co-host Samantha Harris conducted brief backstage interviews with Tia, Lisa, and Jerry, asking about them about their reactions to the previous night. Jerry, still miffed at the judges, had a message for them: “I don’t think those guys want to challenge me.”

The real fun started when Barry Manilow took the stage to perform “Copacabana.” While his singing voice still sounds great, he spoke many of the lyrics. (For an example of this style, check out William Shatner’s version of “Common People” at iTunes.) Barry’s obviously had some work done on his face, and he moved as if all of the skin on his body had been pulled taut over his bones. During the song, Louis and Cheryl came onstage and showed off why they get paid to dance.

Drew stole the show during Samantha’s next round of interviews. Because ripping the sleeves off of his shirt didn’t earn him a perfect score from the judges, Drew threatened to perform next week while wearing nothing but a rubberband and a peanut shell. Host Tom Bergeron praised Drew for being willing to admit that all it took to cover his bits was a peanut shell.

Tom gave the audience a brief second to imagine Drew tucking himself into a shell, and then introduced the show’s first pretaped segment of the evening, a look at how the dances are choreographed. As soon as the Friday night results show ends, the remaining couples are given their music for the next week. Training starts Saturday morning, and the pros much teach the celebrities the next dance’s basic moves, though they may have only a vague idea of what the finished routine will be.

As both members of each couple have gotten to know the other better, they’ve been able to collaborate on the routines. Louis gives Lisa several moves to choose from, and Anna tries to include some of Jerry’s own spontaneous dance moves. Couples have Saturday through Wednesday to practice, with some of that time devoted to rehearsal for the group dance.

The footage showed just how much work these professionals put into this show. Trying to teach an amateur a new dance style in five days is hard enough, but coming up with costumes and a routine that will please both professional judges and untrained audiences is a daunting challenge. The producers have done a wonderful job finding ten dancers with the patience, dedication, and skill needed for Dancing with the Stars.

As the results show entered its second half-hour, the first two couples to be spared from elimination were announced: Stacy & Tony and Lisa & Louis. Tom asked the judges whose performances surprised them this week. Carrie Ann picked Stacy, who finally looked like she was having a good time. Len said watching Lisa over the last five weeks has been like watching a caterpillar change into a butterfly. Bruno gave Jerry credit for keeping up with all of the shows’ divas — including George.

An athletic performance by the 2005 World Mambo champions led into another pretaped segment. Cameras followed the stars to see if they really get along as well as they claim to. There was plenty of good-natured teasing in rehearsal. Apparently, on more than one occasion, George has jokingly threatened to have Drew’s legs broken in order to level the playing field. The friendships end on the dance floor, though, as all of the remaining couples are intent on taking home the trophy.

In Samantha’s final backstage interviews, the four couples still up for elimination picked up where the preceding segment left off. Jerry stuck up his fingers to give George bunny ears, and George pretended that he thought next week’s group dance was the polka. Drew topped both of them when he said, “I would have George’s children if I could.” An amused Tom was barely able to send the show to commercial.

Barry Manilow returned for a second performance, this time performing the classic, “Unchained Melody.” Barry’s appearance just happened to coincide with the release of his new album, on which he covers songs from the 50s. All joking aside, Barry’s voice is beautiful. I HATE “Unchained Melody,” but Master B’s performance actually made me a little emotional. Where are a potter’s wheel and clay when you need them?

Drew & Cheryl and Jerry & Anna were announced as the next two couples returning next week, leaving Tia & Max and George & Edyta in the bottom two. With the smallest fan base of the remaining celebrities, it would’ve been hard for Tia to muster the votes needed to stick around any longer. Her only hope was to go on a streak of near-perfect performances, like her Tango. But she and Max just didn’t have it this week. While her exit was unfortunate, it’s good to see a trend emerging, as the couple who gave the worst performance has lost two weeks in a row.

Tia and Max were rewarded with a standing ovation from the studio audience and the judges. Carrie Ann started to cry while watching the video montage of the couple’s performances. While not the most popular of the celebrities, Tia’s journey resonated with a lot of viewers. After making a career of being sleek and beautiful, it was wonderful to see her embracing her new, post-pregnancy body. And as fitness competition shows prove, it’s fun to see someone make progress toward a goal. Tia will always be Bruno’s “ultimate tropical vamp.”

The end of her time on the show wasn’t all negative for Tia, as it will mean more time with her new baby. Max seemed more broken up about the end of their partnership than the end of competition. He said he hopes they’ll always be friends, and he looks forward to being able to call and wish her a happy birthday or ask her about her baby. Tia confirmed that Max only pretends to be an evil taskmaster, and that he’s really a big softie. I always knew there was more to Max than a pretty face and tight buns — though I didn’t really care.

Tia and Max danced one last time, as Barry Manilow sang, “Can’t Smile Without You.” For once, the eliminated couple actually danced, and they performed some of the moves from their Tango. By now, the remaining couples have received their new songs, although it wasn’t announced what individual dance they’ll be performing next week. In the group dance, all of the couples will attempt the speedy Viennese Waltz. George had better learn some fast footwork, or he may get run over.

I Hate Leaves (Episode 12-1)

Survivor: Panama – Exile Island has a lot of good things going for it. Most of the cast members are slightly unhinged, and smaller tribes make it harder to hide that. As the physical and emotional rigors of the game take their toll, any number of the new castaways could crack under the pressure. If the premiere was any indication, season 12 could be the best yet.

Contestants began the adventure divided into four teams of four players each, but who knows if that structure will last beyond the first week. For that reason, I’m not bothering to learn the official tribe names until after the first few episodes. In the meantime, I’ll be using the nicknames assigned by Bobby, self-styled president and charter member of the Young Beefcakes.

Just minutes into the episode, the team of younger women (aka the Spice Girls) lost the season’s first Reward Challenge, which involved crushing skulls in search of an amulet inside. Misty, the missile engineer, lost a game of Rock Paper Scissors and had to spend the night on Exile Island.

With nothing else to do, she looked for a hidden Immunity Idol. The idol’s biggest advantage is that it doesn’t have to be presented until after Tribal Council votes have already been cast, at which point the person with the second highest amount of votes is sent home. Whomever holds the idol has final control over who’s sent home. But the idol becomes invalid when only three contestants remain.

At their home beach, the other three Spice Girls wandered aimlessly, looking for a spot to build a shelter. During their search, they found a dead sea turtle. Courtney outed herself as group weirdo when she rambled about the symbolism of the dead turtle. She reckoned that, because the turtle represents the earth in Native American creation myths, and they’re a bunch of young, fertile women, it was a sign that they were doomed. If I read Sally and Danielle’s faces correctly, Courtney’s the one who’s doomed.

Meanwhile, at Beefcake beach, the four dudes proved to everyone over 50 that, if left to their own devices, young people will always slack off. After they finished a game of island baseball, the guys built a shelter that made Rupert’s pit-in-the-sand atrocity from Survivor: All-Stars look like the Taj Mahal. And Aras’s efforts to make a fire through meditation failed miserably. Nick defended their poor performance, claiming that they just didn’t want to peak too early in the game.

The Golden Girls fared significantly better than the Beefcakes. Lumberjill Tina took over, building a fire, finding water, and constructing a shelter. She even stumbled upon a dying fish stranded in a tidal pool. Rather than ordering the other old ladies around, Tina simply did everything by herself. This left her tribemates plenty of time to talk about getting rid of her.

Like Tina, the Loveboat Crew worked way harder than they needed to. The youngest old dude, Shane, quickly tired of the work and got cranky. It didn’t help that he’d quit his three-pack-a-day cigarette habit just the day before. Every time samurai Bruce asked to use the machete, Shane repeated his mantra to himself: Don’t lash out at anyone. Shane already resembles Iggy Pop, so detoxing from a nicotine addiction while baking in the Panamanian sun should leave him looking like a shell of a man by the end.

Speaking of shells of men, Dan looks like one of the undead. CBS would’ve been well-served to make him sign a “No shirt, no Survivor” clause before they put him on the air. But his friendship with super-cool fighter pilot Terry may keep Dan in Panama long enough to give his pallid flesh a lifelike glow.

When all parties reconvened for the Immunity Challenge, both teams of men bucked gender stereotypes and willingly followed a set of directions, solving their rope puzzles just after the Spice Girls. The Golden Girls looked at their diagram like it was the instruction booklet for a VCR, and there was no way they could stop it from flashing 12:00.

At Tribal Council, all of the women acknowledged that Tina did everything for them, although Cirie protested that eventually, they would’ve found the water themselves. Jeff Probst was stunned when Tina was voted out instead of Cirie, who is deathly afraid of leaves. Only a group of women could value a gossip over a hard worker.

If the Golden Girls are lucky, they won’t remain a tribe of three for long. In the preview, Cirie spoke about Shane’s desire to quit the game. There’s a good chance that the remaining women will be incorporated into the other tribes, making three teams of five. It’s hard to imagine what Cirie could contribute to the Loveboat Crew, although they might like having her around since she falls out of her swim top every few minutes.

My Butt Is Going Crazy (Episode 2-5)

Billed as the sexiest episode of Dancing with the Stars ever, the real heat came from emotional flare-ups tonights. Fights between judges, fights between pro dancers — Stacy must have felt like she was back at a WWE event.

The big question of the night was who would get the lowest score from the judges now that Master P and Ashly were gone. After narrowly avoiding elimination last week, Tia and Max were awarded the dubious honor, due to tonight’s too-tame Samba. But fan favorites Jerry and Anna only scored one point higher, as the judges more carefully scrutinized the routines.

Traditional ballroom took a backseat to Latin dances this week. Each couple performed a solo Samba, the dance most associated with Brazil and the celebration of Carnivale. After the individual performances, all of the couples performed the same choreographed Salsa routine. Salsa is particularly well suited to group perfomance, as the dance involves less travelling around the floor than other dances.

Stacy Keibler and Tony Dovolani: In order to help her better understand the dance, Tony took Stacy to a Samba club to observe real Samba dancers. As she watched the dancers, whose outfits were straight out of Frederick’s of Hollywood, Stacy had a revelation: she was going to have to do some serious butt-shaking this week. Back in the practice studio, Stacy gleefully observed, “My butt is going crazy. It tickles!”

As soon as Stacy and Tony took the stage in their day-glo orange outfits, the audience knew it was in for a treat. They danced to the Destiny’s Child song, “Bootylicious.” On top of having mastered hip shaking, Stacy nailed all of her moves, and she and Tony looked more in step with each other than any of the other couples.

Every other performance from them has been slow, which allowed for Stacy to pose, but not to really show if she could dance. She proved tonight that she’s not a fluke, as she and Tony gave the most exciting performance of the season. The judges agreed, and Len commended Stacy for making the dance look easy. Bruno even called Stacy a “weapon of mass seduction.” Carrie Ann added fuel to the heat from the performance, saying that Stacy was starting to look better than some of the professionals. As we would find out later, that wouldn’t be the only inflammatory remark of the evening.
Scores: Carrie Ann – 10, Len – 10, Bruno – 10. Judges’ Total = 30/30

George Hamilton and Edyta Sliwinska: Edyta was concerned with George’s progress during practice. She wanted him to move gracefully like a panther, but he strutted more like a flamingo. After a trip to the zoo to study animal movements, George decided to aim for a cross between a condor and a moose.

Their efforts resulted in a slow but accurate Samba, with George dressed as Desi Arnaz and Edyta as Carmen Miranda (complete with the fruit hat). During a slower-than-normal version of Gloria Estefan’s “Conga,” George moved a lot better than he has in the past. During some solo moments, he made some bizarre arm movements that were supposed to look make him like an orchestra conductor, but instead just made him look like a crazy dancing grandpa. Carrie Ann gave him credit for the improved footwork, and Bruno and Len complimented the couple for the joy they brought to their perfomance.
Scores: Carrie Anne – 8, Len – 8, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 24/30

Lisa Rinna and Louis van Amstel: Dancing two routines in one week requires tremendous endurance, so Lisa and Louis added running on the beach to their workout regime. Lisa said that, because she’s 42 and Drew and Stacy are both in their twenties, she needs to work twice as hard as they do just to stay in shape to dance. Hubby Harry Hamlin said simply, “It’s insanity.”

On the dance floor, Lisa and Louis gave a fun, energetic performance. They’ve got the best chemistry of any couple, and it’s showing through more each week as Lisa builds her confidence. In honor of their song, Chic’s “Le Freak,” they added a few disco moves to their routine. Carrie Ann was disappointed in that choice, criticizing them for making the dance feel more like disco than Samba. Bruno made his opposition known by pounding on the desk and calling Carrie Ann a “kamikaze” — not the most racially sensitive name to call an Asian-American woman. But Len also disagreed with her, noting that the couple included all of the standard Samba moves.
Scores: Carrie Anne – 7, Len – 9, Bruno – 9. Judges’ Total = 25/30

Tia Carrere and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: To help them soar out of the bottom two, Max pretended to ride to practice on a broom. Actually, the broom was a training tool to help Tia with her arm positions. The broom bit wasn’t particularly funny, and things didn’t get much better during their performance. Max’s bizarre outfit included a huge necklace and an absurdly deep v-necked shirt. It was totally distracting, and not in the way Max’s exposed chest should be. Tia began the performance in the middle of the floor, dancing by herself in a leopard print dress with a long black train. After what seemed like minutes, Max walked down the stairs and ripped the train off Tia’s dress. They danced a nice Samba for a while, but they added a bunch of disco moves, and Max even motioned for the studio audience to cheer.

This was their worst performance. Their previous routines have been carefully crafted to show off Tia in the most beautiful way possible. But there was no connection between them in this routine, and it seemed like a pandering attempt to appeal to the audience. Len noticed that Tia seemed more comfortable with traditional ballroom than the Latin style dances. It’s as if Tia’s not sure of what to do with her post-pregnancy body, and can only let go within the structure of the traditional ballroom dances.
Scores: Carrie Anne – 7, Len – 7, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 22/30

Jerry Rice and Anna Trebunskaya: Jerry’s been criticized for being too stiff before, and there’s no room for stiffness in the Samba. When a hula hoop didn’t help loosen up Jerry’s hips, Anna resorted to a cruel but effective training technique: trying not to look stupid in front of your kids. Jerry’s 9-year-old daughter, Jada, came to watch them practice, giving her dad pointers and teasing him for not being as good a dancer as she is.

Jerry loosened up enough to give a fun performance, and his footwork continued to improve. He’s still struggling to match Anna’s energy level, although she’s hyper enough that it would be a challenge for anyone. Carrie Ann actually noticed Jerry counting his steps during the performance, and told him to stop being so self-conscious. Anna leapt to her partner’s defense, yelling at Carrie Ann, “Come on, admit you liked it!” Len commended Jerry for nailing all of the basic steps, and Bruno encouraged him to keep up the good work.

Jerry and Anna weren’t done after receiving the judges’ scores. Speaking with Samantha Harris backstage, Jerry admitted that he was unhappy with their scores. Anna wasn’t nearly so tactful. She took a shot at George, saying they were going to start taking lessons from him, since he scored higher than they did. Anna’s crazy enough that I love to watch her, but I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.
Scores: Carrie Anne – 7, Len – 8, Bruno – 8. Judges’ Total = 23/30

Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke: Drew and Cheryl took a break from training to have dinner with Drew’s family and friends. For some reason, Cheryl kept her winter coat on during the meal.

As usual, the pair gave a great performance. It was unfortunate that their song wasn’t something as fun as “Bootylicious.” Apart from reminding Drew to watch his shoulder position, the judges unanimously praised the performance.
Scores: Carrie Anne – 9, Len – 9, Bruno – 9. Judges’ Total = 27/30

After the individual performances ended, the audience was treated to footage from the rehearsal for the group Salsa. All the couples danced the same routine, choreographed by Gustavo Vargas. George spent much of rehearsal clowning around, and Drew got a bloody nose from one of Cheryl’s errant elbows. But the bloody nose wasn’t the most painful part of the rehearsal. Anna argued with Max, accusing him of taking up too much space. When he told her to get off his back, she responded, “I’ll walk all over your face.” All of the other couples stood around nervously, trying to ignore the shouting match.

The altercation lead to an amusing bit as the show went to commercial. Backstage, Anna had Max in a chokehold as he knelt in front of her, and everyone else tried to pull them apart. Just as the bump music came to an end, Max hugged Anna around the waist and snuggled his cheek into her stomach.

Another Gloria Estefan tune provided the soundtrack for the group salsa, as couples danced to “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You.” Each couple took a turn to show off a solo move. During their moment in the spotlight, Tia and Max executed a move Len described as “a mechanic checking for an oil leak.” Max played the role of the mechanic. Lisa, Stacy, and Drew all earned praise from the judges, although the dance was not scored. Next week, the group will dance a Viennese Waltz, a more continental version of the Tennessee Waltz.

Tomorrow night’s results show will feature a showdown between the professional dancers. They’ll dance to a live performance of “Copacabana” (not to be confused with the Neil Sedaka hit, “Chupacabra”) by the man himself, Barry Manilow. How will I ever be able to fall asleep tonight?

Leaderboard:
1 – Stacy and Tony
2 – Drew and Cheryl
3 – Lisa and Louis
4 – George and Edyta
5 – Jerry and Anna
6 – Tia and Max

My vote this week: Tia and Max. He’ll probably dance shirtless next week if he thinks it’ll get them votes, and I’m going to make sure he has that chance.