Monthly Archives: March 2006

Talent Shines on Nashville Star (Episode 4-1)

If you’re a fan of TV vocal competitions, do yourself a favor and tune in to Nashville Star. The show’s fourth season premiered this week on the USA Network, without any lousy auditions or camera hogging wannabes. Viewers were treated to ten top-notch performances by singers with a future in country music.

Don’t be turned off if you’re not a fan of country. I’m not that fond of it myself, but I enjoy good performances, no matter what style of music. Throughout each season of Nashville Star, contestants perform classic and contemporary country, southern rock, and original songs as well.

It’s one thing to cover other artists’ songs, another to write your own material and play an instrument. All of the contestants on Nashville Star can do both, and many currently make a living as performers. They’re more experienced in front of live audiences than the contestants on American Idol, if you don’t count high school swing choir shows.

New hosts for this season are country music legend Wynonna, and the man who invented country-rap, Cowboy Troy. Troy smoothly delivered all of his lines with a grin, and kept things light. Wynonna played mother hen, offering advice to all of the contestants.

Judges Phil Vassar and Anastasia Brown return for another season. Phil’s written countless country hits, and Anastasia is the A&R wiz who discovered Keith Urban. So, win or lose, contestants would be wise to heed their advice.

Each week, the two regular judges will be joined by a guest celebrity judge, which is sort of a mixed blessing. The premiere’s guest judges were Big & Rich, whose comments ranged from somewhat insightful to barely intelligible. Next week’s guest judge is comedian Larry the Cable Guy; who knows what advice he can offer contestants.

All of the contestants gave good performances, but Casey Rivers and Matt Mason emerged as early favorites, with rich voices and cowboy good looks. Nicole Jamrose, a married mother of two, is the sentimental favorite to win. She’s got a distinctive voice and an aura of coolness.

Some of the contestants may not be true contenders, but their unique style makes the show interesting. Shy Blakemore looks like Bret Michaels from Poison and performs without shoes. Kristen McNamara is a blond California girl who yodeled for her opening number.

Although all of the contestants are talented singers, not all of them have star power. Monique LeCompte has a beautiful voice, but the judges said she’s more Broadway than country. And Jewels Hanson rocked her butt off, but she was a little over the top for the judges’ tastes.

Before voting opened to the public, the judges eliminated Jewels Hanson. Since Jewels sold her Harley Davidson to make the trip from California, Wynonna offered to loan one of the Harleys from her own collection so they could ride together.

The second episode airs Tuesday, March 21, at 10 p.m. Eastern. Special guest Gretchen Wilson will perform and the results of the first audience vote will be announced. If you’d like to catch up on the performances from the first episode, USA Network is reairing the season premiere this Saturday, March 18 at 10 a.m. Eastern.

DwtS Offseason Update: 3-15-06

If you want to let us in on any DwtS news or upcoming events, please email us ( and give us the scoop!

Meet Cheryl This Sunday
If you’re in the Santa Monica area, Cheryl Burke will be appearing at the Blues Jean Bar on Sunday, March 19. “Drew Crew” and “Dance On, Cheryl” shirts will be for sale, and 10% of the event proceeds go to USA Dance, a charity that promotes ballroom dancing.

The event will be held from 5-7 p.m. The Blues Jean Bar is located at 1409 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica, California, 90403. For more info, call 310-656-7898.

Cheryl on Extra
Cheryl will interviewed on Extra this Saturday, March 18. Follow this link to find out what time the show will air in your area.

Possible New Co-Host for DWTS 3
On March 1, The New York Post reported that Lisa Rinna could be Tom Bergeron’s co-host for DWTS 3. Samantha Harris might then become an entertainment correspondent for ABC’s Good Morning America. (The archived article is still available here, though you must be a registered Post reader to view it.)

Stars at the Oscars
Star also spotted Tia Carrere and Stacy Keibler shopping (separately) before the Oscars. Check out what they got in their gift bags. Lisa and Harry Hamlin were guests at Elton John’s Oscar party.

Two More Seasons on Order from ABC
An article at Fashion Monitor Toronto is reporting that ABC has scheduled both fall and winter seasons of DwtS for the upcoming year. The article doesn’t give any sources, but considering the show’s success, it would be a surprise if ABC doesn’t slate two seasons.

Master P on Trial
Master P’s no contest plea on his gun possession charges earned him 40 hours of community service. Hey, he was just doing it for the Katrina victims. Zap2It has the full story.

I’m Gonna Punch You in the Mouth (Episode 9-3)

There was no relief in sight when teams ended the latest leg of The Amazing Race. Teams arrived on the mat behind St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square, only to have Phil tell them there was no Pit Stop and they had to continue racing.

Before heading to Russia, teams had to finish their business in Brazil. That included an early morning zipline ride, 300 feet over the countryside. Hippies BJ & Tyler were the first team to leave, at 4:48 a.m., but the zip line did not open until 7:00.

Frat Guys Jeremy & Eric were just minutes behind the Hippies, who waited on the side of the road to jump out and scare the Frats as they arrived at the zip line. Monica & Joseph (MoJo) and Nerds Lori & Dave also arrived before the ride opened.

These first four teams stand a very good chance of being the final four teams in the race. In addition to being capable racers, these teams all get along with each other. Season 9 is the most enjoyable since Season 5, largely because teams are willing to help each other. In Season 5, eventual winners Chip & Kim often helped the perpetually confused twins, Kami & Karli. It’s nice to see producers casting teams that you want to succeed, as was the norm in the show’s early seasons.

At the end of the zipline, teams received a clue instructing them to fly to Moscow, Russia. There they would have to travel by taxi to a large, outdoor swimming pool used to train Russian Olympians.

First, the couples needed to drive to the bus station in Brotas, Brazil. Three charter buses took them to the international airport in Sao Paolo. The Hippies, the Frats, MoJo, and the Nerds filled up the spots on the first bus at 9:15.

As the first bus left, some of the other teams were still finishing the zipline. Lake & Michelle had left the Pit Stop in seventh place, but they’d gotten lost. Michelle warned Lake he was going the wrong way, and he replied, “Shut up.” She later paid him back by threatening to punch him in the mouth. If only she’d followed through. After Lake finally admitted being lost, he parked their VW Bug in the middle of a cornfield and stood on top of the car to see where they were, denting the vehicle’s roof in the process.

Ray & Yolanda, Wanda & Desiree, Lake & Michelle, and The Pink Girls, Danielle & Dani, eventually made it to the bus station in time for the second charter bus, which left at 10:00. Oldsters Fran & Barry, who didn’t leave the Pit Stop until 8:45, were the only team on the 10:45 bus.

At the airport, all of the teams purchased tickets for the same Lufthansa flight to Moscow, via Frankfurt, Germany. Onboard, the Pink Girls learned Russian translations of useful phrases (e.g., “Go fast!”) from a fellow passenger. After disembarking, the Frat Guys sweet talked the girls into sharing a cab to the pool.

At the pool, teams encountered a Roadblock, which required one team member to jump off a 10-meter diving board and retrieve a clue underwater. BJ and Tyler arrived first, and Tyler elected to take the plunge, ensuring that–while we might have two Hippies on the race–we’d only have one unwashed Hippie. He stripped off his “T-Tow” t-shirt, which he explained was the power word that symbolized the “circle of the universe” for him and BJ.

Fran & Barry benefited from a fast cab, and Barry completed the task in second place. Ray & Yolanda arrived in third, and Yolanda chose to dive, despite her inability to swim. After a few uneasy minutes at top of the platform, other teams arrived and cheered for her. As she got out of the pool with their clue, a Russian woman told her, “Good girl.”

The task went smoothly for most of the teams, except Wanda & Desiree. Wanda had no problem making the jump off of the platform. But her fear of drowning sent her into hysterics, and she wasn’t able to retrieve their underwater clue. Desiree calmed her mother, and, with the encouragement of several Russian men who were watching, Wanda dove and got the clue.

Everyone else was already on their way to a monastery to find the next clue, and Wanda & Desiree feared the delay might have cost them the race. But, on their way to the monastery, Dani realized that she’d left her bag with the clues, passports, and money in the pool’s changing room. She and Danielle jumped out of the cab they were sharing with the Frats and got a ride back to the pool.

BJ & Tyler were first to the monastery’s cathedral, and they took a minute to admire the artwork before deciding which Detour to take. Their options were to “Scrub” a Moscow trolley inside and out, or “Scour” hundreds of Russian nesting dolls for a tiny clue.

The Hippies chose the first option, but their cab driver couldn’t find the trolley yard. Fran & Barry caught up to the Hippies, and both teams decided to do the other task instead.

Lake & Michelle and the Frat Guys both wanted to do the trolley task as well, but they couldn’t communicate with their cab drivers. As Ray & Yolanda left the monastery in their cab, the other two teams instructed their drivers to follow.

But Ray & Yolanda had elected to search the dolls. Lake & Michelle and the Frats were dismayed at first, but all three teams joked around as a band played and dancers swirled around them. The Frats and Lake & Michelle found their clues quickly and headed for their next destination: Red Square.

Fran & Barry arrived at the theater and started searching the dolls. Ray & Yolanda found their clue just as the Hippies arrived. The Hippies found their clue quickly, sending Fran & Barry into this week’s requisite panic.

The Pink Girls made it back to the pool just as Wanda & Desiree were leaving. Filled with hope, Wanda & Desiree found one of the few cabbies in Moscow who knew where the trolley depot was. The Pink Girls arrived at the depot shortly after, followed by MoJo and the Nerds, who eventually stumbled upon the location in their shared cab.

Lake & Michelle and the Frats found Red Square at nearly the same time, but Eric & Jeremy made it to the mat first. Phil told them that they weren’t finished racing. He then handed them their next clue, as the episode ended.

Next week, Fran & Barry dance in lederhosen, which means teams will be flying to either Germany or Pennsylvania.

It’s Not My Problem (Episode 5-3)

Theresa’s corporate retreat was tacky and offensive, earning her a hearty “You’re Fired!” from The Donald on tonight’s Apprentice. And the loss by Gold Rush put Lenny the Russian in fighting form again.

Brent’s return from last week’s boardroom sent Andrea into the bathroom, where she cried and hid for a long time. After she reemerged, she decided to be Synergy’s project manager this week, just to prove that somebody could manage Brent,

Before receiving this week’s task, Dan and Lee of Gold Rush announced that they would be observing the Jewish New Year, and would not be able to participate. Apparently, interviews for TV game shows like The Apprentice don’t count as work, as they were still able to participate in those. NBC added Fiddler on the Roof-style music to a shot of Dan and Lee walking to temple.

Lenny, who is also Jewish, described the decision not to work as “f***ing stupid.” He reasoned that Israeli soldiers don’t get out of work on holidays, so neither should the candidates.

Trump assigned the task of holding a corporate retreat for GM dealers, to whom the teams to introduce the 2007 Chevy Tahoe. Teams needed to find a fun way of familiarizing dealers with the car.

Synergy wisely ignored Brent’s idea to give the dealers massages, and instead came up with the theme “Nature Refined.” They planned a day of outdoorsy activities, like rock climbing, fly fishing, and skeet shooting.

When they realized skeet shooting wasn’t allowed in their park, Andrea quickly came up with a much better idea: golf cart races. Throughout the day, her team also let dealers test drive the Tahoe, as Sean read vehicle specs from the backseat. With his meager knowledge of cars, Sean probably thought the “V8” he kept mentioning was a tomato drink. But his British accent made him sound like an authority, just the same.

Theresa led the undermanned Gold Rush, giving Tarek creative control of the event. She then ignored Tarek’s pleas for a theme, and instead decided to offer the dealers such disparate activities as mini-golf, a horse and buggy ride, and a performance by a comedian. Several times, she used the word “classy” to describe her vision of the event.

In addition to those highbrow activities, Theresa decided to showcase the Tahoe on a rotating platform as models stood by, as at a car show. But this was a one-car show in the middle of a dirt track of a park. No word on whether Theresa’s version of class accounts for corn dogs, monster trucks, and late-night nutria hunts.

Just before the event, Tarek dug golf holes in ugly, dried out patches of grass, because Theresa refused to order astroturf. Not a wise decision, considering Trump’s viceroy, Carolyn, runs golf courses for a living and was on-site to inspect.

Lenny set up the stage and tents, but he neglected to procure a generator to make the stage rotate, protesting, “It’s not my problem.” Brice ordered a generator and spent the rest of the episode screaming hysterically at Lenny, “I saved your ass!”

Gold Rush’s horse and buggy sucked, their mini-golf was pathetic, and the models didn’t know a thing about the Tahoe. But the final blow came when their comedian, a former Last Comic Standing contestant hired by Charmaine, gave a crude, unfunny performance that offended everyone. Even though the comedian bombed, Charmaine still paid her the full appearance fee of $1700.

After the events, the dealers filled out surveys. In their opinion, Synergy destroyed Gold Rush. The Synergy members were given a chance to swim with sharks at Atlantis Marine World on Long Island. Brent had concerns for his safety, but, to his team’s dismay, the sharks did not eat him.

Theresa was sick of Lenny’s attitude, proving that she doesn’t know a potential TV icon when she sees one. So, she brought him into the boardroom along with Tarek, who bore the responsibility for the crummy putting green.

Carolyn, substitute viceroy Bill Rancic, Trump, and even Tarek absolved Lenny of responsibility for the team’s loss. Tarek’s defense for the golf course was that, even though it stunk, at least people enjoyed it, unlike the comedian and the buggy ride.

Trumped harped on Theresa for not bringing Charmaine into the board room, when she was not only responsible for the comedian, but also for hiring the clueless models. Theresa was soon fired, earning a big grin from Lenny. On his way out, Trump told Tarek, “You better step it up… if you can.”

Next week, Brent loses his mind. He’d better make it fast, before the audience loses interest in him.

The Power of the Dark Side (Episode 2-8)

When Joe compared his opponents, Josh & Cher, to Darth Vader, he
had no idea that Cher was about to cut off his hand and leave him
dangling underneath Cloud City. Joe & Brittany may have been Beauty and the Geek 2‘s Luke Skywalker, but Josh & Cher took home the $250,000 prize.

the previous episode’s elimination sent Ankur & Jennipher home, Joe
& Brittany returned to the suite, where Josh & Cher were
waiting to see who their final opponents would be. The teams celebrated
making it to the end with a soak in the hot tub. Josh finally got the
courage to get in the tub, his first dip of the season.

The next
morning, the teams were informed that, later in the show, the elimination room would test
how well they understood their partner. They were also told that, because both teams would be facing elimination, there would not be a traditional pre-elimination challenge. Previously, such challenges had focused on overcoming weaknesses.
This time, the challenge was replaced by a chance for team members to demonstrate their individual strengths.

In order to show off one of his talents,
Josh took Cher to a pond. When she asked if they were going skinny
dipping, Josh joked, “We’ll see where it goes.”

Instead of
taking clothes off, they put on some waders and tried fly fishing. Josh
had learned the sport growing up in Michigan, and it surprised Cher
that he’d be interested in something so outdoorsy. Cher only hit Josh
with her fishing pole a couple of times.

Joe taught Brittany
another outdoor sport — of sorts. They played chess on an oversized
board at the beach. Joe’s teaching needed some refinement, as he fired
off information at lightning speed. But Brittany picked up a lot of the
information, and Joe was impressed that she’d mastered some advanced
concepts so quickly.

To further impress Brittany, Joe played a
round of speed chess against another expert player. Brittany said she
felt honored to have shared her experience on the show with a master
chess player. You think Joe’s good at table games, Brittany? Until
you’ve seen my sister-in-law beat my ass at Yahtzee, you have no idea
what a master is.

Brittany took the opportunity to teach Joe how
to ice skate. While she emphasized that she was only a casual skater,
Joe was amazed by her skill, as he struggled to stay upright. By the
end of Brittany’s lesson, Joe was skating smoothly and even did a
little spin.

Cher’s skill was making sushi, and Josh guessed
that he was probably the world’s first Jewish sushi chef. Josh proposed
that, if they won, they use their winnings to open a sushi restaurant

Before the elimination room, a montage of clips of
both teams ruined the show, because it was set to that stupid “You’re
Beautiful” song that every show now uses for montages and poignant
scenes. Joe talked about the final showdown: “Josh & Cher are the
bad guys, and Brittany & I are the good guys. It’s like Darth vs.
Luke. May the force be with us.”

of the usual question-answer format of past eliminations, the finale
included a special twist. One team member answered a question, and the
other team member had to guess the answer that was given. Each correct
match earned the team one point.

The guys were up first,
answering three random questions while the girls were sequestered in
another room. Unfortunately, the girls didn’t know their guys as well
as they thought they did, and Brittany and Cher failed to match a
single one of their partner’s answers.

For example, Cher was
asked what the first word that popped into Josh’s head was when he saw
her on the first day. She guessed that the word was “vivacious.” His
real answer: “nauseous.”

When it was their turn, Josh and Joe
performed significantly better, each answering two of three questions
correctly and forcing a tiebreaker round. The guys each answered their
new question correctly, forcing another round.

Josh was asked
what he’d most like to change about his partner, and he said he’d like
Cher to have more self-confidence. Cher correctly guessed Josh’s
answer. Joe was asked the same question about Brittany, and he said he
wished she was a little less innocent. Naive might have been the better
way to phrase it, since less innocent sounds overly sexual. Unless
that’s what he really meant.

Brittany flip-flopped for a while,
and finally decided that Joe would want her to be more self-confident,
too. Josh & Cher were awarded the $250,000 first prize, but a
sobbing Joe said he would’ve paid that much for the opportunity he had.

put Josh’s sushi restaurant idea to rest, saying she’ll use her share
of the money to enroll in medical school. No word on what Josh will do
with his money, but hopefully he’ll treat himself to a new man-purse.

the episode, Chicago’s WGN News reported live from a viewing party held
by Joe. He was joined by Karl & Danielle, two other Chicagoland
contestants from this season. Danielle is currently working at the
Mount Prospect Public Library, while she waits for modeling and acting
offers to come her way. Karl, the show’s resident dungeon master, is
now a spokesman for Dungeons & Dragons.

Hasta La Fuego (Episode 12-6)

This week, the La Mina tribe resumed its losing ways, falling to Casaya in a combination Reward/Immunity Challenge. Sally, as the last woman on La Mina, was the tribe’s obvious choice for elimination. But Casaya spared her when they sent her to Exile Island instead of Tribal Council. Dan, master of the fire at camp, was the weakest of the La Mina men, so the others chose him as the sixth person voted out of Survivor: Panama – Exile Island.

The night before the challenge, Casaya bickered about the fractured vote at the previous Tribal Council, which ultimately sent Bobby home. Most of the team lay in the shelter: Shane on one side, Danielle and Cirie cuddling with Aras in the middle, and Bruce next to them. Shane told Danielle she was stupid to have kept Bruce instead of Bobby. Bruce lay sleeping (or pretending to sleep) only feet away from Shane.

Danielle tried to convince Shane to save the argument for the morning, but he persisted. He said that he wanted out of his alliance with Danielle and Courtney, and asked that they let him out of a promise he’d made on his son’s name. Aras and Cirie listened in, but said nothing.

Courtney had spent the night on the beach, so Cirie eagerly filled her in on what Shane had said in the shelter. Danielle came over, and she and Courtney decided that Shane should be the next person voted out. Cirie solemnly consented to vote with them.

In an interview, Cirie let loose giggles she’d withheld from Danielle and Courtney when agreeing with their plan. She was ecstatic about the rift in the Casaya alliance, and proud of the quiet role she was playing in causing that rift. She knew that the more they turned against each other, the further she’d be able to advance in the game.

Later that morning, Shane approached Danielle and Courtney about terminating their alliance. Danielle was quick to agree, but Courtney wanted to give Shane a piece of her mind first. “You don’t even realize how mean you are,” she told him. When suffering nicotine withdrawal, Shane probably doesn’t realize where he is most of the time, let alone how mean he’s acting.

Aras talked with Shane about his actions, and Shane realized that he’d probably made a huge mistake by angering Courtney and Danielle. Still, he didn’t regret his decision. He called Danielle a “meatball,” and said he thought even less of Courtney. In Shane’s world, Courtney ranks sub-meatball.

Aras was secretly pleased at the dissolution of his alliance. Shane was a loose cannon, and Aras felt he’d be in a better position without Shane to worry about.

Unlike Casaya, the members of La Mina were still getting along. Sally knew she wouldn’t be able to break up the boys club, but she had other problems to worry about. Their camp was running perilously low on food, so they had resorted to catching minnows and eating them raw.

While fishing with Nick, Dan revealed that he’d been an astronaut, and not just an engineer at NASA. They told Austin when they returned to camp, and he shouted, “Dan Fuego is a stud!” Author Austin then confessed his own secret: “My real name is John Grisham.”

That afternoon, both tribes received Tree Mail summoning them to a challenge. As usual, the winners of the episode’s first challenge would get a reward and the opportunity to send one of the losers to Exile Island. However, the Reward Challenge was the episode’s only challenge, making it an Immunity Challenge, as well. The losers would face Tribal Council that night, leaving the exiled tribe member immune from the vote.

There were two parts to the challenge. First, three members of each tribe ran one at a time along a zig-zag path to retrieve four puzzle pieces–each skull-shaped, but non-identical. The pieces were large, heavy, and tied to frames about 100 meters from the starting mat.

As soon as a tribe had all four pieces on the mat, the two remaining tribe members would position them on a puzzle board. There were already nine pieces attached to the board, between which the skull pieces fit. However, the puzzle-solvers needed to figure out not only which skull pieces went in where, but also which way to rotate the pre-attached pieces so that those four new pieces fit. Once the first of the four new pieces was in place, the rotations of the other pieces would become more obvious, and it would be easy to complete the challenge.

Shane was the first member to fetch a puzzle piece for Casaya, but he struggled to untie the knots holding his piece in place. Aras and Danielle had an easier time, as did Shane when he untied the tribe’s fourth puzzle piece. But, by then, Shane’s early problems had allowed Terry, Austin, and Nick to give La Mina a substantial head start on assembling the puzzle.

La Mina watched their lead evaporate as Sally and Dan floundered with the puzzle. Bruce and Cirie (Courtney sat out of the challenge) quickly figured out where to put their first piece, and they finished their puzzle before Sally and Dan got a single piece into place.

Fully aware that Sally was slotted as next to go, Casaya sent her to Exile Island. They then took off for their reward, a barbecue in a nearby fishing village. Jeff Probst gave them hula hoops, soccer balls, and a piñata as gifts for the children in the village.

Casaya feasted on chicken, soup, and soda pop. And they danced and played games with the kids. But Shane got what he’d really desired from day one: a cigarette. As he sucked the thing down to its filter, he admitted, “This is probably a really bad decision.”

The resulting buzz was strong enough to make Shane realize that cigarettes are a real drug. Fifteen days of withdrawal-induced mood swings should’ve been clue enough.

Cirie enjoyed the food and watching the children play, but she said she might have preferred if Casaya had lost the challenge. The reward gave Shane an opportunity to apologize to Danielle, leaving Bruce as the only buffer between Cirie and elimination, should her tribe lose immunity a couple more times.

At La Mina, the mood was somber, as the boys club had to decide which of them would go home that night. Austin explained to Terry that Dan was physically too weak to last in the game. Terry told Nick and Austin that, despite his friendship with Dan, he knew what had to be done.

Terry told Dan his decision before Tribal Council. Dan felt that he and Sally had lost the challenge for La Mina, so he understood why he was selected to be voted out. He knew Terry had to act in his own self-interest, but Dan secretly hoped Terry would realign with him and vote for Austin, forcing a tie that would be settled with a challenge.

At Tribal Council, the men acknowledged that Sally was their original target, and that it was a smart strategic move by Casaya to send her to Exile Island. Dan told Jeff Probst that he knew he was going to be voted out, but that he would’ve preferred the vote be divided between him and Austin.

Out of respect for Dan, they proceeded with the vote. Dan cast the lone vote for Austin, while Nick, Austin, and Terry all voted for “Dan Fuego.” In his farewell confessional, Dan thanked his family for letting him go on another adventure.

Although Dan managed to stay on the ground for this adventure, his family provided the most out there “Febreze Survivor Family Moment” yet. His teenaged kids pointed at a machine on the coffee table and said, “The robot is moping without you!” Those kids get beat up at school every day.

Next week’s Survivor is a special clip show on Wednesday night, with footage of Casaya eating a snake. Poor Cirie; she thought sushi was weird. New episodes return in three weeks, when one of the Survivors is ferried away in a “medical emergency.” I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t involve Shane and a straitjacket.

Interview with Cheryl Burke (DwtS Offseason Update: 3-8-06)

Cheryl Burke has had hardly a day off in months. Eight straight weeks of training and performing with singer Drew Lachey led the couple to a championship on the second season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. And since then, Cheryl’s life has been a string of interviews and appearances.

She has no desire to see it end.

“Most of the publicity is done,” Cheryl, 21, said in a phone interview late last week, days after winning the competition. “I’m still doing some radio interviews and spur of the moment stuff. But I hope there’s even more!”

Cheryl’s Dancing with the Stars whirlwind almost started a year ago. Before the first season, her name came up as a possibility for the show. But, at the time, Cheryl wanted to concentrate on her burgeoning professional career. “I competed about twice each month, and it takes year-round preparation for four to eight hours a day.”

Cheryl was then living in New York City, to which she’d moved from her native California after turning 18. “New York is the place to be for serious competitors. The European coaches go there.”

Finding the right coach can be essential. While most professional dancers do the bulk of their own choreography, coaches can help perfect routines, turning a good dance into a first place dance. “I try to find coaches who deal with the styles I like to dance,” Cheryl said. “I don’t train with more than two coaches at a time. It’s easier to keep things straight.”

Dancers also often seek simplicity and consistency when choreographing their performances. “I used the same routine for two years. You might add or subtract something, but the basic routine stays the same.”

Though she’d spent the last two years of her life performing variations on the same routine, Cheryl was about to find herself choreographing at least one new dance every week.

In August, ABC’s interest in Cheryl was rekindled when some network scouts spotted her at a professional competition in Southern California. Between then and November, ABC conducted interviews with Cheryl and other dancers.

The network offered Cheryl a slot on Dancing with the Stars and paired her with former 98 Degrees singer Drew Lachey. The timing was perfect for Cheryl, as she was tiring of New York and had decided to part ways with her professional partner.

Cheryl’s transition from the world of pro competition to Dancing with the Stars was made easier because of some familiar faces: the show’s other professional dancers. “We all knew each other beforehand. Ballroom dancing is a small world.”

Prior to being cast, Cheryl had experience going up against (and defeating) some of her TV competition. At last April’s San Francisco Open, she won the International Latin event, edging out Dancing with the Stars pros Jonathan Roberts and Anna Trebunskaya. In that same competition, first-season DwtS winner Alec Mazo and his professional partner, show regular Edyta Sliwinska, placed fourth.

Cheryl said she has a good relationship with the other pros from the show, like Tia Carrere’s partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy. “Max is one of nicest guys I know. He’s hard-working and likes to compete. It was a shame he went out so early.”

The familiarity and friendship between pros also helped them quickly assemble exhibition routines and demonstration dances. The pros collaborated on the choreography for the exhibitions and demos, though one usually oversaw the final product. “We’re all pros, so our dances with each other weren’t difficult. We spent about three hours over two days working on each exhibition routine.”

“But working with our celebrities was the priority.”

Training a non-dancer on a tight schedule was challenge enough for the professionals. But there was one area in which the celebrities were the experts: exposure. On Dancing with the Stars, Cheryl performed before a much larger audience than she’d ever dreamed she would.

“In the beginning, I thought I would be so nervous. But when I perform, I perform for whoever is in front of me. When I actually went onstage, I focused on the audience that was there. I performed for them, instead of letting myself realize in the back of my mind that there were 27 million people watching.”

Cheryl kept her nerves in check all season, and over the two-episode finale, she and Drew earned the best scores from the show’s judges. In what was probably the season’s most entertaining dance, the two performed a freestyle to Big and Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy).” The freestyle was the only dance of the competition for which there were no restrictions or required elements. And, for once, the team wasn’t at the mercy of the show’s music director. “We got to pick the music for it, too.”

Even though the couple won the final judges’ vote, they still needed support from the home viewers in order to help them defeat former NFL great Jerry Rice in the final standings. Going into this season, Rice had the largest built-in fan base of any of the celebrities. By comparison, Drew and Cheryl had to earn their votes largely from scratch.

Over the season, Cheryl and Drew became one of the show’s most popular couples. But, until after the final show ended, they never knew how the public felt about them. Cheryl thought she might be one of the season’s villains, so she resisted any temptations to peek at Internet message boards. “I tried to avoid them, because some of them might not be very nice.”

She had nothing to worry about. The couple had won over fans online and offline, at home and abroad. Cheryl, whose mother is Filipina, inspired news media from the Philippines to cover Dancing with the Stars. Cheryl received well-wishes from Pinoys throughout the competition. “It was great to know that they were behind me one hundred percent.”

The couple’s popularity with the show’s audience ultimately pushed Drew and Cheryl to victory, and the couple is grateful. “I have to give a big, big thanks to all our fans. Drew feels the same. We couldn’t have done it without them!”

For now, Cheryl’s decided to put her professional dance career on hold. “I’ve relocated to L.A. I’m looking for an agent, so I can try commercials, acting, or whatever comes my way.”

She’s also teamed up with one of her competitors from DwtS, Louis van Amstel, who was Lisa Rinna’s partner on the show. “Right now, I’m starting some projects with Louis. We may do shows at competitions or perform at corporate events.”

With all these other plans, would Cheryl be up for another run on Dancing with the Stars? “I would love to return for Season 3! There’s no ABC rule against it. [First season pro finalists] Alec and Charlotte just chose not to come back.”

If you would like to contact Cheryl, read more about her, or check her upcoming schedule, you can visit her website:

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Pressed For Time (Episode 9-2)

A tricky stick shift brought an end to the Glamazons’ Amazing Race. The six-foot-tall, tiara-wearing sisters, Joni & Lisa, struggled to drive their vintage VW Bug over the muddy roads of Brazil, and they were narrowly defeated by oldsters Fran & Barry. At least Joni will finally have time to get a handle on her bladder control problems.

Teams started this leg of the race by taking a taxi two miles to a tall building, Edificio Copan, for their next clue. All of the teams left between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m., but, because the building didn’t open until 8 a.m., all of the teams really started this leg at the same time.

On the way to the building, Frat Guy Eric ogled a prostitute’s behind. It took him a few seconds to realize that he was ogling a man. To make up — if not overcompensate — for his mistake, he spent much of the rest of the episode flirting with the Pink girls, Dani & Danielle. At one point, he told the camera, “We gotta make the girls feel good, so we can get in their pants later.”

When teams finally got their clues, they learned that their challenge was the season’s first Roadblock. One member of the team had to climb up one of the building’s three fire escapes and then rappel 400 ft. to the ground. Contestants would rappel in the order by which they arrived at the top of the building.

Jeremy was first to the top of stairwell #1, followed by Ray, Desiree, Danielle, and Fran. Joseph lead the way up stairwell #2, followed by Lake, Dave, and Joni. For some reason, BJ was the only one to choose stairwell #3.

At the bottom, the next clue sent teams to a bus station to find tickets for charter buses leaving at 10:15, 11:15, and 12:15. Jeremy, Joseph, and BJ were first down the building, and their teams took all the seats on the 10:15 bus.

On the 11:15 bus were Ray & Yolanda, Dave & Lori, and Wanda & Desiree. Lake rappelled down the building in fourth place, but he and Michelle took a bus to the wrong station. They wound up on the 12:15 charter with the Pink girls, the Glamazons, and Fran & Barry.

The charter buses dropped teams off in Brotas, Brazil. There, each team chose a vintage VW Bug to drive to the next Detour. Teams could either climb 50 feet up a waterfall, or they could distill sugarcane juice into ethanol.

All of the teams from the first bus chose the waterfall. They climbed it using ropes and mechanical ascenders, require good coordination and are tricky to learn. They’ve confounded more than one team in past seasons of the Race.

Eric was the only one from the front pack who didn’t master the ascender immediately, but even his troubles were brief. The Hippies, Frat Guys, and Joseph & Monica (a.k.a. MoJo) finished the task quickly and drove to the Pit Stop. The Hippies arrived first, winning a trip to Tahiti and some hacky sacks.

Ray & Yolanda arrived on the second bus, and were the only team from their group to climb the waterfall. Nerds Dave & Lori chose the sugarcane option because Dave had once done the ethanol conversion as an experiment in school. They were followed by the mother/daughter team, Wanda & Desiree.

While making ethanol sounds like a very technical procedure, the process contestants used was very simple. Each team cranked 15 sugarcane stalks through a press to extract the juice. The juice was then heated over a Bunsen burner until the distilled ethanol dripped into a container.

Then the teams topped off their car’s gas tank with the ethanol they’d created. Phil pointed out that one-third of cars in Brazil run on ethanol, not fossil fuels. By sheer coincidence, immediately after this week’s show aired, President Bush announced plans to attack Brazil.

Dave & Lori called upon the spirit of Nickelodeon’s 80s science icon, Mr. Wizard. They finished ahead of Wanda & Desiree, who briefly got lost, and also feared they might’ve chosen the slower Detour.

Wanda & Desiree had nothing to fear, as neither Fran & Barry nor Lisa & Joni would be reaching the Pit Stop until after nightfall. Lisa had trouble keeping her stick-shift Bug in gear, putting her in a panicked state that lasted until they reached the Pit Stop.

Lisa & Joni chose the less physically demanding ethanol task. Joni cheered Lisa on a she cranked the sugarcane through the press, saying, “Pretend you’re giving birth to a child.” Lisa retorted, “I didn’t! I had a C-section!”

Lake & Michelle and the Pinks had no trouble with the waterfall, but Fran couldn’t get the hang of the ascender. She and Barry chose to climb the waterfall this week, after wasting so much time on the wrong Detour last week, too. If Fran and Barry keep making such poor decisions, they should be the next team out.

Fran & Barry ran into further bad luck when their car’s battery died on the road to the Pit Stop. They were given a new car, but no credit for the time they lost. Luckily for them, they still edged out Lisa and Joni.

Lisa sobbed on the mat when they finished the race. It had been her idea to go on the show, and she blamed the loss on her poor driving. Joni assured her that they won or lost as a team, and that the greatest gift she could have received wasn’t a victory, but a chance to travel the world with her sister.

1 – BJ & Tyler
2 – Eric & Jeremy
3 – Monica & Joseph
4 – Dave & Lori
5 – Ray & Yolanda
6 – Desiree & Wanda
7 – Lake & Michelle
8 – Dani & Danielle
9 – Fran & Barry
10 – Lisa & Joni (eliminated)

Next week, the teams travel to Moscow, where they must search hundreds of nesting dolls for a clue. And Wanda must face her fear of drowning, as she retrieves a clue from the deep end of a swimming pool.

Not So Pepi (Episode 5-2)

This week, Brent joined Lenny on the list of The Apprentice 5 villains. Like Lenny, Brent survived his first trip to the boardroom, where two contestants were fired. But while Lenny is entertaining and diabolically cuddly, Brent is just sort of annoying. He does do a mean robot, however.

After selling memberships to Sam’s Club last week, the future leaders of industry that Trump selected for this season had to shill razors. And not just any razor: Fusion, the new five-bladed razor from Gillette. Looks like producer Mark Burnett’s hands are biting back at the reality stars they’ve fed. This episode put Burnett in direct competition with Survivor: Outback runner-up Colby Donaldson, whose day job is as the Schick Quattro pitchman.

The team that got the most New Yorkers to text message a certain word to a certain phone number won the task. However, it was never made clear what was in it for those who did send that message. A sixth blade?

Team Gold Rush, lead by the nearly post-pubescent Lee, badgered people who were waiting in line for tickets to Broadway shows. Getting a captive audience to send text messages while on-camera and waiting in line was easy as fish-in-a-barrel pie. Lenny didn’t feel at all challenged by the task: “What could be simpler? Water? Air?”

Team Synergy, lead by the ironically sleepy Pepi, was still in bed over an hour after their opponents left the loft. Their time management hinted at a loss, but their sales strategy ensured it.

First, native New Yorker Stacy picked a bad corner for them to make their pitch. Then, they followed management consultant Michael’s vision for their marketing campaign, which consisted of nothing more than the team standing around, wearing bathrobes.

At Synergy’s site, Sean the Brit stood in his robe and belted out into his megaphone, “Find out if you can handle it.” Handle what? It’s a razor, not tickets to a cockfight.

As a last ditch effort to interest passersby, Brent danced and performed “robotics” in his bathrobe. After all this, scatterbrained Synergy was blown out by Gold Rush’s simple, effective plan.

In the boardroom, Trump said he’d be firing two candidates. Pepi put the blame on Brent. During a planning meeting, Brent had confronted Stacy in a hallway and told her to stop interrupting him. She had then returned to the group and said Brent threateningly pointed a finger at her. In her defense, his nails did look a little rough. Plus, Stacy bruises easily.

Later, Stacy had admitted to appellate attorney Roxanne — currently the only likeable person on Synergy — that she hadn’t actually felt like she was in any danger. But in the boardroom, Stacy changed her tune again and said she really had felt threatened.

Neither Trump nor subsititute viceroy Bill Rancic bought Stacy’s act. Trump said that, as a criminal defense attorney, she should be embarrassed to feel threatened by Brent. Trump also faulted her for picking a bad location, and she was fired.

Brent got a pass, after Trump’s daughter Ivanka (subbing for Carolyn) said Brent would probably be fired soon enough, anyway. So, in order for Trump to fulfill his promise to fire two members of the losing team, project manager Pepi got the boot as well.

Next week, The Apprentice turns into Fear Factor, as contestants ride in golf carts and swim with sharks. What exactly are these people supposed to be learning anyway?

Geology Is Rocks. Geography Is Maps. (Episode 2-7)

Ankur & Jennipher were the last team eliminated before the season finale of Beauty and the Geek 2. But Jennipher wasn’t about to leave before giving Cher a piece of her mind.

Both Joe & Brittany and Ankur & Jennipher were nervous about the prospect of facing off against Josh & Cher in the finale. In their trips to the elimination room, Josh has only answered one question incorrectly, and Cher hasn’t missed any.

When the teams received their study materials for this week’s challenge, each contestant was also instructed to film a video thank you card for his or her partner. As usual, Josh fretted over his project, but most everyone finished quickly and began preparing for the challenge.

When Cher chose to work on her tan rather than study with Josh, he decided to try and make her jealous by studying with Brittany. It worked, and soon Cher was yelling for Josh to join her down by the pool.

Josh attempted to stand up to Cher, muttering, “I’m nobody’s bitch. I’ll go down when I want to go down.” Three seconds later, he said, “I’m gonna go down.” He gathered up his study materials, as Joe and Brittany laughed.

After scarfing down their dinners, teams were instructed to meet in the library. They watched their video thank yous as a group, which made the guys uncomfortable. They’d assumed only their partners (and millions of TV viewers) would see the videos, and they were concerned about how open and honest they’d been on tape.

Most of the videos were predictably sweet. Ankur joked about how his bickering with Jennipher had earned them the nickname “the married couple.” Cher’s video was the only surprise, not because she wasn’t sweet, but because she was. She took the chance to apologize to Josh for her inconsiderate behavior toward him, surprising the other teams, who thought she was only there for the competition.

Josh thanked Cher for showing him that he was more than just a short, skinny guy. She called the video the best gift she’d ever received.

The next day, everyone participated in the season’s first team challenge. While the guys and girls had different tasks within the challenge, the team that finished first would be the only team assured a spot in the finals.

As a part of their study materials, teams were given three catalogs. The beauties went through the catalogs with their geeks, pointing out items they liked. During the challenge, each geek had to find a specific item in three different stores that his partner had chosen as the item she’d most like to receive as a gift.

For their task, the beauties had to direct a driver to each of the stores. While studying geography and orienteering, Brittany explained to Jennipher, “Geology is rocks. Geography is maps.” Because she’d once scored nearly 100 percent on a test of African geography in a college class, Brittany was disappointed that the challenge took place in Los Angeles, and not Africa.

Cher quickly navigated her driver to the first store, where Josh picked out Cher’s favorite pair of shoes on the first try. Brittany made a wrong turn, which got them to the store just after Josh had finished the task. Joe didn’t have a clue what Brittany would like, and resorted to looking under random shoes for the tag marked “Brittany.”

Jennipher was so clueless about how to read a map, she and Ankur sat in the car with their driver for an hour before she told him, “Just drive.” They ended up finishing the challenge two hours after the other teams.

At the second store, Josh quickly found the red purse that Cher wanted. As he ran out of the shop, she yelled from the car, “Get back in here, you beautiful creature.” Joe arrived at the store shortly after Josh left, and had a much easier time with the purse than he had with the shoes.

Josh easily found the necklace Cher wanted from the jewelry store, but panicked when he was told he had to find earrings for her as well. Josh finished and passed Joe on his way out of the store. While Joe had good luck again, he and Brittany couldn’t catch up to Josh & Cher.

Knowing that Joe & Brittany were close behind, Josh & Cher ran into the mansion. Upon being told they’d won, Cher tackled Josh, and they rolled around on the floor. Brittany & Joe arrived minutes later.

That evening, before heading to the elimination room, Jennipher asked Cher why she really participated in the show. Cher admitted that, at first, it was all about the prize money for her. She hadn’t expected to be affected by the other participants, and her mind changed as she got to know Josh and the others. She was happy to have the chance to live outside of her comfort zone for a while.

At elimination later that night, Brittany reasoned her way through the geography questions and scored a perfect 3-for-3. Jennipher struggled, leaving Ankur with a two point deficit. Although he answered his first two questions correctly, Ankur couldn’t beat Joe, who went 2-for-3.

Jennipher said she’d be leaving the game with more confidence and an urge to be more independent. Ankur said that Jennipher helped him realize that it was okay to be himself. In response, Jennipher said she’d consider naming one of her future sons Ankur.

On the season finale, Joe & Brittany face off against Josh & Cher in an elimination round filled with twists.