Monthly Archives: January 2007

DwtS Tour Recap

The Dancing with the Stars Tour made a stop in Chicago last week, and MOIB was in attendance.

The event got off to a rocky start, thanks to tour sponsor Slim-Fast. Christian Perry — Tysonia’s dance instructor for Season 3’s heartwarmingly
boring Slim-Fast Challenge clips — walked onto the dance floor and
introduced himself as the emcee of a special, local version of the
Challenge.

Audience members had come to the arena expecting a
glitzy, glamorous Hollywood show, but instead, the first performances
were by ten competent — but neither professional nor celebrity —
dancing couples.

Ten pairs of students from Arthur Murray’s
Chicago studio competed in two rounds of dances, during which celebrity
guest judge Alec Mazo
chose two couples to move on to a final round later in the show. Alec
confessed that his selections were based simply on which couple’s
numbers he could read as they twirled in front of him.

Apparently,
the studio had only been given three days notice to find twenty
students brave enough to dance in front of thousands of people. The
dancers gave their all, but unfortunately for them, the the Challenge
had zero production value. The arena lights (including giant banner
advertisements for Budweiser) were left on, and the sound quality
would’ve embarrassed a bad wedding DJ. Though Perry and Mazo had some amateurish charm when speaking to the audience, they were still out of their element.

Many audience members spent the duration of the Challenge scanning the arena with confused expressions, wondering, Are we in for a whole night of this?
I worried that I’d made a huge mistake in buying tickets as Christmas
presents for my parents and in-laws. I wasn’t too scared about the
quality of the dancing to come, but I didn’t want the lights and sound
to give the whole evening a college basketball atmosphere. (The arena
in which the event was held also plays host to the DePaul Blue Demons.)

I breathed a little easier when the Pee Wee Herman-esque Perry announced that the Challenge was only “the pre-show,” and the real show wouldn’t begin for a few minutes.

After
a five-minute long Slim-Fast commercial aired on three giant screens
hovering over the dance floor, the PA announcer (the same faceless
British voice from the TV show) said that the show would actually begin
following another brief break.

Finally, 30 minutes after the
scheduled start time, the lights dimmed (Phew!), and it was time for
the show. Harry Hamlin limped out to announce that he’d tweaked his
back in Vegas a few days earlier, so he wouldn’t be performing.

(So
that Harry’s partner, Karina Smirnoff, wasn’t completely left to fend
for herself, she was paired with one of the tour’s company dancers, of
which there were eight — including Christian Perry and Alec Mazo. Karina sported a bob-style wig, and some of the audience members near me went most of the show without recognizing her.)

One couple at a time, each of the tour’s remaining celebrities (Lisa Rinna, Joey McIntyre, Joey Lawrence, and Drew Lachey) came out with their respective professional partners (Louis van Amstel, Kym Johnson, Edyta Sliwinska, and Cheryl Burke) to perform one of their best routines from the the television show.

The
dancing was great, and the music sounded top-notch. To me, it looked
like all the celebs had improved the routines since being on Dancing with the Stars. And the band — a guitar/bass/keyboards/drums outfit (not Harold Wheeler’s show orchestra) — sounded spot-on.

After
each performance, each dancing couple spoke a bit about their time on
the show, how excited they were to be touring, and who was coming up
next. Since he was there, I think they should have had Harry Hamlin
host the evening, introducing each dance. It’s not that I didn’t
appreciate Lisa’s manic energy and Drew’s constant “Woo!”-ing. But Harry seemed very comfortable speaking to the audience, and it would’ve been nice to see more of him.

The
celebrities and their partners danced a few new numbers with the rest
of the company dancers, but the most exciting routines were the ones
that didn’t include the celebrities. Alec & Edyta
and Louis & Karina danced a Rumba that was more romantic and
beautiful than anything seen on any season of the television show to
date. (The song they danced to, however, Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero,” just makes me think of this Scrubs clip, which I could only find dubbed into Spanish.)

All
of the pro dancers were extremely talented, and it was great to see
Alec dance again. After watching Christian Perry, I couldn’t help but
feel that Slim-Fast did him a great disservice by having him host the pre-show. He’s amazing to watch when he’s allowed to just shut up and dance.

Speaking of the pre-show, it was then time to award the Slim-Fast Challenge trophy to one of the amateur couples who’d danced during the pre-show,
Drew and the two Joeys emceed, referring to this final dance-off as
“the best part of the show.” This statement prompted my dad, Jim, to
turn to me and whisper in mock horror, “This is the best part of the
show? Oh, shit!”

One of the male competitors was 6’7″ and
dwarfed Drew and both Joeys. Drew compensated for the height
differential by jumping on Joey L’s back.

Their three celebs’ corny shtick fit in perfectly with the thrown together style of the pre-show.
Both of the competing couples danced at similar levels to one another, but,
ultimately, victory went to the couple whose female half wore the
shiniest dress.

Drew & Cheryl were far and away the most popular couple, and their reprises of the “Thriller” Paso Doble and “Save a Horse” freestyle garnered the evening’s loudest applause.

They
were nearly eclipsed by a special appearance from Jerry Springer. He
joined Kym Johnson for a reprise of their Mambo, complete with maracas.
He followed the dance with a bit of stand-up comedy.

Jerry
rehashed a joke he made during the season about the disadvantage he
faced because all of his fans were prison inmates, who were allowed
only one phone call to vote for him. He added, “Do you think people on
my TV show watch ballroom dancing? You think they do Paso Doble in a double wide?”

Jerry
had another suggestion for the TV show: “They should have a senior
season. Everyone else is 30 years old. They can all walk without
getting dizzy.”

Overall, the show (as opposed to the pre-show)
was orchestrated well. It was high energy, although part of that had to
do with an over-reliance on Latin dances and a paucity of standard
ballroom. The staging and lighting were wonderful, except in the
professional group dances, when a spotlight would’ve made it easier to
see couples as they soloed.

The biggest surprise of the night
had to be the musicians. The band of six instrumentalists was tight and
produced a much larger and fuller sound than you’d expect from such a
small group.

But it was the singers who stole the show. And no,
I’m not talking about Joey McIntyre, who performed a couple of ditties
from his latest album. Performing some of Sinatra’s biggest hits, Joey
sounded like, well, a former boy bander
performing Sinatra’s greatest hits. I left the arena without buying a
copy of the CD, even though Joey was autographing them after the show.

The
singers I’m talking about are the same four singers from the television
series. They’re also providing the vocals for the tour, and they were
AMAZING. I’ve ragged on the quality of the singing on the show, but
their performance on the tour shows what these singers are capable of
when they’re given more than a couple of days to learn 15 songs.

During Season 4, I vow to be more forgiving of any vocal mishaps. Unless they’re really funny.

The
ticket price was well worth it to see quality ballroom dancing in
person. Chicago is not one of the hot spots in the world of competitive
ballroom, and $75 per ticket seems reasonable compared to the cost of
booking a flight to Ohio or Florida or California, and then paying for
hotel rooms, admission fees, and fancy clothes.

Ultimately, I
know that the show was a success, because my dad and father-in-law both
enjoyed themselves. It was a good bet that my mom, Sandy, and
mother-in-law, Joan, would like the show, so long as it was
well-executed. But Jim and Ron are guys who you’d think would rather
spend a night at a high school basketball game than at a ballroom
dancing exhibition.

Both guys had a great time (I’m sure seeing Edyta
and Kym in person didn’t hurt), and they said they’d happily go back
and see the show again. Looks like I’m set for next Christmas.

Apprentice L.A.: Episode 1

The Apprentice‘s move to Los Angeles from New York City wasn’t
the only change revealed in the Season 6 premiere. Half of the
contestants live in tents. Trump has only one viceroy. And he didn’t
keep the goofy guy with no shot at winning around just to manufacture
drama.

Trump opened the show by asking the contestants to
introduce themselves to him and each other. During the introductions,
Martin, a lawyer/professor from Atlanta, asked Trump if he could use
the bathroom, making him the most obvious target in the whole group.
Trump ridiculed Martin for his inappropriate comment. And Trump’s lone
viceroy, his daughter Ivanka, instructed Martin to “hold it.”

Two
alpha competitors emerged from the cast as they led the others in
pitching the aforementioned tents. Once the tents were up, Trump asked
the two early leaders, Frank and Heidi, to pick teams and serve as
Project Managers on the season’s first task.

Heidi’s team
narrowly triumphed in the first challenge — selling car washes — when
they decided to roll up their French cuffs and dry some of the cars
themselves. The winning team took up residence in a mansion, while
Frank’s losers were forced to live in the backyard tents.

After a sleepless night under the stars, the finger pointing began.

Several
team members blamed Frank for setting the price too low and printing up
handouts instead of signs that drivers could actually see from their
cars. Frank attributed the loss to Martin’s low number of sales. Since
Trump already thought Martin was a goofball, finding any excuse to
target him was probably a good idea.

In addition to living in
the mansion with her team, victorious Project Manager Heidi got to sit
next to Trump and Ivanka during the Boardroom and act as honorary
viceroy. She and Ivanka had the same advice for Trump: Martin had to go.

Trump
hemmed and hawed about possibly firing his fellow New Yorker,
“Frankie,” but he ultimately agreed that Martin just wouldn’t fit in
with the Trump organization.

I’m still somewhat stunned that
Trump opted for the good of the company, instead of the drama Martin’s
prolonged presence would cause. Maybe The Apprentice really is
different this season.

Next week, the teams design and model swimsuits. After all, that’s what Harvard-educated lawyers and real estate moguls do best.

DwtS Offseason Update: 1-03-07

It’s only two days until the Dancing with the Stars Tour stops
in Chicago, and we here at MOIB will be in attendance (along with the
MOIBs-in-law). I’ll post my thoughts on the live show later in the
week. Until then, here’s the latest DwtS news.

DwtS Tour
The recent Tour stop in Las Vegas
gave Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin the chance to party with Nikki Sixx,
Jason Giambi, and Pauly Shore. Go ahead and take a minute to let that
bizarre image sink in.

Season 4 Rumors
Former Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller is the latest star to turn down an invitation to participate in DwtS 4. He cited Emmitt Smith’s victory as the reason he declined: “He ruined it for all athletes because he was so good.”

Ashly DelGrosso sent out an announcement about her future with the show today: “I am looking forward to another season of Dancing with the Stars,
but I have not heard from the producers yet whether they have found a
new partner for me. So, until I do I will not know if I’ll be back.”

Appearances
Mario Lopez has been announced as the host of this year’s Miss America pageant, which will air on Country Music Television on January 29.

Stacy Keibler’s seven-episode stint on ABC’s What About Brian starts on February 5. She’ll also guest star on two episodes of George Lopez, on January 31 and February 21.

Other News
Maksim Chmerkovskiy took some time last week to answer fans’ questions at his website. He revealed that he’s already shot a video in association with Dancing with the Stars that will come out in March.

Edyta Sliwinska and Alec Mazo have created videos of their own. The series of seven DVDs, titled Dancing Like the Pros, include fitness and instructional dance lessons taught by Alec & Edyta.