Monthly Archives: April 2007

DwtS 4, Week 7: Performance Show

Billy Ray had two chances to impress the judges and fans tonight on Dancing with the Stars, with both a ballroom dance and a Latin dance. But doubling the workload just made it that much harder for him to get even one dance right.


Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Quickstep
Song: Stevie Wonder, "Part-Time Lover"

Laila put so much effort into holding the Quickstep’s exaggerated posture that it sapped all of the fun from the performance. It was well-executed, but more mechanical than I’d expect from her.

The judges were much more impressed than I was. Len declared: "The heat’s on tonight, and you’ve turned the gas up." Bruno said, "You have opened the door to ballroom heaven." And Carrie Ann quoted the poet, L.L. Cool J: "Momma said knock you out, and she knocked me out."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 29/30

John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska — Fox Trot
Song: Frank Sinatra, "That’s Life"

John deserves a lot of credit for not relying on Edyta to sell this dance. He used a lot of the floor, but, more importantly, he smiled throughout the dance.

Bruno told John, "You’ve obviously been to dance rehab, because the difference in a week is unbelievable." Carrie Ann said, "I think was your best dance thus far." Len remarked to John, "If I’d have had to take on what you’ve taken on, I would now be in a hospital."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…7, Bruno…8 = 23/30

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Fox Trot
Song: Irving Berlin, "Steppin’ Out"

The performance was smooth, classy, light and fun, and Julianne’s dress was fabulous.

Carrie Ann told Apolo, "Your musicality is what always amazes me." Len, for some reason, was not as impressed as Carrie Ann: "From you, I don’t want good. I want great. And that was in no way great." Bruno objected to Len’s comments: "I don’t see where the badness was."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 26/30

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Tango
Song: Bonnie Tyler, "Holding Out For A Hero"

Ian looked uncharacteristically confident in his best performance yet. His former Beverly Hills 90210 castmates Jason Priestley, Jennie Garth, and Tori Spelling were in the studio audience and gave him a standing ovation. I’m sure Shannon Doherty was standing somewhere, as well.

Len said, "It had fire, it had passion, it had drama." Bruno called the performance "the revenge of Ian." Carrie Ann said, "You were smiling. You had the drama. Having fun doesn’t mean you don’t have drama."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30

Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff — Waltz
Song: Neil Diamond, "Play Me"

In an attempt to show off his lovely partner, Billy Ray let Karina do all the work and barely moved. He gave the minimum effort possible.

Bruno said, "Most of the time it was like Vanna White at the Wheel of Fortune. You’ve have to put out as much work as she does." Carrie said, "There wasn’t enough content." Len noted, "The trouble was there was only one recognizable step…and it’s a Samba step. But I love you, and I hope you’re back, ’cause I think you’re great."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 17/30

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Fox Trot
Song: Michael Jackson, "The Way You Make Me Feel"

The remixed version of the Michael Jackson song was strange, but not as strange as the magic tricks Joey performed during the routine. But somehow, the fun, energetic performance worked.

Carrie Ann — "Someone’s finally pulling the stops out." Len liked Joey’s ABC’s: "Attitude, Belief, Confidence," but felt the routine had "a little too much razzle-dazzle." Bruno accused Len of "being difficult for the sake of being difficult," and called the performance "dazzling."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 29/30


Laila & Maksim — Samba
Song: Frank Sinatra, "Brazil"

Laila is always at her best in the Latin dances, and tonight was no different. She looked much more joyful than during her first dance — despite her unattractive ruffled lime green dress. The routine ended with a solo by Laila, which allowed the audience to see her ability, without being distracted by Maks.

Bruno said simply, "All the right buttons were pressed." Carrie Ann shouted, "Finally! That was amazing!" Len said, "I just hope your dad’s at home watching this, because he should be so proud of you. Best dance so far tonight."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska –Rumba
Song: Queen and David Bowie, "Under Pressure"

Because John is old enough to be Edyta’s dad, they tried to play down the sexiness of the Rumba. The resultant performance was slow, and Edyta’s skimpy outfit provided the only excitement.

Carrie Ann told John: "Out of all of the older older gentlemen we’ve had on the show, you are the best mover." Len noted, "The dance is a seductive dance, and you’re not the first older gentleman to try to seduce a younger girl." Bruno said, "Your footwork is improving incredibly."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…8, Bruno…7 = 22/30

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Mambo
Song: Gloria Estefan, "Dr. Beat"

There were plenty of tricks in this routine, but most of them were cautiously executed — another day of practice would have helped. The choreography was good enough that they should revisit this routine in one of the later weeks.

Len said, "It was a very, very good performance. But again, I can’t call that great." Bruno disagreed, and said of Apolo, "He’s selling it with such an ease and aplomb." Carrie Ann told Apolo, "You were a little off this time, and it wasn’t your best. But you are still fantastic."

While waiting for his scores backstage, Apolo told Samantha Harris, "I just wanna see more consistency in the judging."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 28/30

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Mambo
Song: Sean Paul, "Gimme The Light"

Ian played up his best attributes tonight. His face was clean-shaven and he wore a shirt with no sleeves for the Mambo. He’s deliberately dancing with a bit more abandon — acting like he just doesn’t give a crap anymore (even though he obviously does) — and it’s really helping his performances.

Bruno told Ian, "This is your night for a breakthrough." Carrie Ann — "Nice attitude shift. It seemed really authentic tonight." Len — "You’ve got great rhythm. You’ve got great hip action. There was a great chemistry between you."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30

Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff– Samba
Song: James Brown, "Living in America"

As a throwback to last week, Billy Ray engaged in yet more uncouth pelvic thrusting. And his shoes looked more like motorcycle boots than dances shoes, making his tendency to stomp even more noticeable.

Carrie Ann said, "Somehow you managed to pull it out and get the steps done." Len asked Billy Ray, "You didn’t get those shoes off Master P, did you?" A barely lucid Bruno said, "You managed somehow to pull yourself through the dance without respect of anything."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Jive
Song: Little Richard, "Slippin’ and Slidin’"

Joey Fatone was made for the Jive. It’s the perfect venue for his manic energy, and he got to show off some wicked high kicks. His dweeby sweater vest was a nice touch, too. This was my favorite dance of the evening.

Len quipped, "It was totally ‘N Sync." Bruno called the performance "a smashing showcase of talent." Carrie Ann shouted at Joey, "You’re flexible!"

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…10, Len…10, Bruno…10 = 30/30

Leaderboard (scores out of 60 possible points):
59 — Laila & Maks, Joey & Kym
54 — Apolo & Julianne, Ian & Cheryl
45 — John & Edyta
38 — Billy Ray & Karina

My vote has to go to Joey & Kym, since they gave my favorite performances in each round. The judges’ scores should make it very hard for Billy Ray & Karina to avoid the Bottom Two, where they’ll be joined by John & Edyta.

If ABC decides to stick with the same show format next season, they need to hold off on having the couples learn two dances per week until there are only five couples left. The nearly two hour long episode felt ponderous by the end — and, frankly, there were only four couples I cared to see dance more than once.

TAR All-Stars: Episode 11

Oswald & Danny were already Marked for Elimination, and they seemed resigned to their fate. Would the Cha Cha Chas finish in fourth place for the second time on The Amazing Race?

Although Dustin & Kandice were the first team out of the Macau, China Pit Stop — with more than a two-hour lead over the last place team, Oswald & Danny — it ultimately didn’t matter. All of the teams arrived in Guam on the same connecting flight.

Early the next morning, the teams assembled at Andersen Air Force Base, where they were driven by military personnel to an air traffic control tower. The next clue was at the top of the tower’s hundreds of steps.

The clue contained the Detour for this leg of the race. The choices were Care Package or Engine Care. In Care Package, teams loaded 500 pounds of goods into a box and boarded a cargo plane to take part in a supply drop training exercise. The task was simple, but the flight took at least half an hour.

In Engine Care, teams had to scour clean an engine pod and a wing flap on a B-52 bomber to the satisfaction of an Air Force maintenance supervisor. While the teams could control how fast they cleaned, the engine was very dirty, and the maintenance supervisor was very picky.

The first three teams to the top of the tower chose Engine Care. Charla & Mirna decided that, since they were humanitarians, they should help assemble the humanitarian supplies in Care Package.

The three lead teams scoured their little hearts out, but that maintenance supervisor just never seemed to be satisfied. Kandice complained, "There was no charming the sergeant; the sergeant was all about business. We weren’t gettin’ anywhere with a smile. We had to scrub."

But, as meticulous as they had to be, all of the teams to choose Engine Care finished before Charla & Mirna. Dustin & Kandice were out first, followed by Eric & Danielle and Oswald & Danny.

As they left, Oswald told the supervisor, "I’m bringing you over to tell my maid how to clean, ’cause obviously I don’t know what to tell her."

Still, Charla & Mirna had chosen the best task for them. There would’ve been many places on the engine that Charla couldn’t reach easily, leaving most of the work to Mirna.

Not only did the cousins get to do their humanitarian duty, they got to participate in a military exercise. As a bonus, the pilot did a nose dive, causing the passengers to experience zero gravity for a few seconds.

Upon finishing the Detour, teams had to drive themselves 21 miles to U.S. Naval Base Guam and meet up with another military escort to find there next clue.

Driving to the naval base, Oswald & Danny couldn’t decide which way to go, and drove around for a while before finally hiring a taxi to guide them to the base.

Unfortunately for the Cha Cha Chas, Charla & Mirna found someone to guide them to the naval base right away, and they arrived there in third place — well ahead of Oswald & Danny.

At the naval base, Dustin & Kandice had first pick of the military escorts, and they picked a woman in a "cute" white officer’s uniform. Dustin marveled at the female officer’s manicure, ecstatic that "you can be in the Navy and have cute nails!"

The next clue for the teams was a Roadblock. One team member had to use a GPS device to find one of four "lost" search-and-rescue training officers, who were hiding in nearby brush. The officer then programmed further instructions into the GPS, guiding the team member to a clearing where he or she would be picked up by a helicopter.

Dustin was the first racer to start the Roadblock, and she picked a navy officer to outfit her in safety gear and hand her a GPS device. Then, the same officer followed her out into the brush, presumably to keep her from accidentally stumbling onto the military’s most classified and highly guarded document: an original copy of the lyrics to "In The Navy," signed by all of the members of the Village People.

Dustin was by far the most competent user of the GPS device, and she found the lost officer with relative ease. She then navigated her way to the rescue site, radioed for a helicopter — code named "Night Rider" (or maybe it was Knight Rider, though Blue Thunder or Airwolf would have been more appropriate) — and set off a smoke grenade to signal her location. Dustin was hoisted into the chopper and returned to a jubilant Kandice.

The final clue instructed the girls to drive 11 miles to the Pit Stop at Fort Soledad. As she drove to the Pit Stop, Dustin told Kandice, "I love the military stuff. It just pumps me up and makes me feel so patriotic, and proud to be an American." (As she spoke, a patriotic march played on the soundtrack.)

They arrived in first place, becoming the first team officially in the finale. The Beauty Queens added a pair of ATVs to their TAR toy stash, which already included a couple of retro scooters and some wave runners. All they’re missing are some Segways and Big Wheels.

The other racers to take on the Roadblock were not as adept with the GPS device as Dustin. Over the course of the season, members have to share the Roadblock duties equally, and Eric had already completed his maximum number of Roadblocks. So, Danielle had to do this one.

Danielle, who gets flustered easily when on her own, was not confident in her navigating skills. She came close to tears as she stumbled through a spider web, before finally stumbling upon her officer in need of rescue.

Charla decided that she should take this task and leave the final Roadblock to Mirna, since this task didn’t require height or speed. What she didn’t realize was that the task required the ability to just look at the GPS screen, without touching it — a talent Charla lacked. At least three times, her naval escort told her not to touch the screen. Yet Charla couldn’t stop doing it, and each time she did, an error message took over the screen.

Both Danielle and Charla were well on their way to getting themselves lost, by the time Oswald & Danny finally arrived. Oswald set off into the brush for his team, but without any particular enthusiasm.

Oswald made his way to the supposed location of his lost pilot, but he looked all over without finding him. Eventually, he turned around and noticed the man in green standing in the bushes and raising his water bottle in a "cheers" gesture toward him.

When Oswald asked him, "You were right here? All the time?" the officer looked at his uniform and replied dryly, "It’s good camouflage."

Danielle found her way to the clearing and was picked up first. She and Eric reached the Pit Stop in second place.

Not long after Danielle was picked up, Charla arrived at the clearing — a few seconds ahead of Oswald. As Charla launched her colorful signal grenade, Oswald said, "Oh my God. The Teletubbies go to war!"

He’d managed to narrow the gap, but because Oswald & Danny had finished last in the previous leg, they had to finish thirty minutes before Charla & Mirna to avoid being eliminated.

It didn’t happen.

Charla & Mirna reached the Pit Stop in third place, and Oswald & Danny showed up several minutes later. They were eliminated, but said they hoped Charla & Mirna would win the race because "those ladies are a class act."

Charla & Mirna made a very smart move by saving the finale’s Roadblock for Mirna. Conversely, Eric will be forced to sit idly by, hoping that Danielle doesn’t suffer another Roadblock meltdown, when $1 million is on the line.

Dustin & Kandice seem to be in the best position to win, since they’ve avoided silly mistakes in the last few legs and have been exceedingly kind to, and supportive of, one another. But, in a preview for next week’s finale, Kandice gets mad at Dustin. Will that spell doom for the Beauty Queens?

I’m pulling for Dustin & Kandice to win. I always find them entertaining, and it’s a pleasure to watch two friends enjoy every leg and act friendly to each other. It’s how I’d wish I could act, were I on the race — as opposed to the bickering that Charla & Mirna and Eric & Danielle fall prey to, so often. I hope the Queens’ fight in the finale isn’t as big a deal as the preview would have us believe.

DwtS 4, Week 6: Power Rankings

6. John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska
They’ve survived two trips to the Bottom Two already. I don’t think they’ll survive a third.

5. Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff
Billy Ray has said that he feels he can leave, once he gets an 8 from the judges. Since both of each couple’s routines are going to be scored by the judges this week, look for Carrie Ann to give one of his performances an 8, on account of "the joy he brings to the dance," or something like that.

Once Billy Ray can tell the voters that he’s accomplished all he came to accomplish, maybe we in the audience will get the hint and set him free.

4. Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke
I wouldn’t be surprised if Ian & Cheryl drop into the Bottom Two next week, but they’re not in any danger of going home. Even if they’re not quite as good at the top three teams, they’re still head and shoulders above the two couples behind them.

3. Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson
As Apolo and Laila have started to shine, Joey’s star may have started to fade a little. Rather than worry about winning, right now Joey & Kym have to be careful that they’re not taken for granted and eclipsed by a groundswell of support for one of the couples at the bottom. They can think about how to win the trophy when they’ve secured a spot in the final three.

2. Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Having reestablished themselves over the past few weeks, I think it’s a virtual certainty that this couple will compete in the finale. So now is a good time for Laila & Maks to consider taking chances. Rather than just adding a few of Laila’s favorite club moves into a routine, they should collaborate on the stories they tell in their dances. (And I think Maks can do it without being gimmicky or breaking the rules.)

Some of Joey & Kym’s routines have bordered on corny, but they’ve also provided insight into Joey’s personality. From his routines, I know that Joey’s interested in disco, Star Wars, and medieval pseudo-history. I don’t feel like I know much about Laila at all. She’s got the chops, but Laila forging a connection between herself and the audience will be the key to her success.

1. Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough
They may have scored the same as Laila & Maks this week, but Apolo & Julianne’s 28 felt like a 28+. They’ve got a real edge on all of the other couples, and as long as Apolo can keep his complaints about his busy schedule in check, they’ve got a clear path to victory.


Agree? Disagree? How would you rank the couples?


Survivor Fiji: Episode 11

Alex is definitely not the criminal mastermind he thinks he is. But he’s at least smart enough to save himself.

After the trampling of the Four Horsemen at the previous Tribal Council, Dreamz tried to convince his former allies — Mookie and Alex — that he’d been in the dark about the other alliance’s plans and hadn’t sold out the Horsemen.

But that still didn’t explain why he’d cast his vote for Mookie.

The day after Tribal Council, the castaways were split into two temporary teams for the Reward Challenge. One member of each team used a slingshot to launch a ball into a muddy field, and the other members of the team tried to catch it in something like a wicker lacrosse stick. Any ball caught counted as a point for the catcher’s team, no matter which team launched the ball.

Yau-Man aimed his slingshot for Mookie, Cassandra, and Boo, while Stacy fired for Earl, Alex, and Dreamz. Things got a little scary when Boo went down with a knee injury and had to be examined by the show’s medics. But Boo simply stood up, popped his ligament back into place with an audible "Pop!" and went on with the game.

The players got dirty, and not just because of the mud. Cassandra tripped Alex and put Earl in a choke hold. Her tactics didn’t help, ultimately, and Earl’s team went on to win the challenge.

Their reward: a hot shower, a good meal, and an overnight stay at a spa. They also sent Boo to Exile Island, since he’d spent the entire first half of the game living at the nice camp.

Alex used the spa opportunity to try and ingratiate himself with Earl, Stacy, and Dreamz, but there was no way he was getting into the alliance.

Once the group returned to camp, Mookie and Alex decided they needed to do something to save themselves. Mookie had been talking with Dreamz, and they’d realized that, since Yau-Man was rarely away from camp, he was the most likely to have found the other Hidden Immunity Idol.

Yau-Man left with a small group to go fishing, leaving his bag at camp unattended. Mookie, with Alex keeping watch, riffled through Yau-Man’s stuff and found the Idol in Yau-Man’s pants pocket. He showed the Idol to Alex and shoved it back into the bag.

The two criminal masterminds traipsed off into the woods, where they excitedly discussed what they should do with their illicitly-gained knowledge. They decided to put Yau-Man on the spot at Tribal Council and force him to show everyone the contents of his pockets.

Once the others discovered that Yau-Man had been keeping that information from them, the alliance would fracture, brother would turn against brother, and Yau-Man would be clubbed to death by his alliance-mates like a baby seal. Finally, after over a dozen seasons of Survivor, someone had come up with the perfect plan!

And even if it didn’t work, Alex reasoned, they’d be "going out in a blaze of glory. Scarface style."

That’s when a twig snapped behind them. Stacy and Cassandra had been hiding a short distance away, trying to eavesdrop on the whole conversation. Alex turned to Mookie and muttered, "We’re screwed."

They ran back to camp, hoping to get to Yau-Man before Cassandra and Stacy did. They found him walking along the beach, where they tried to strongarm him: "We know that you have the Idol. Now, do you want to tell the group yourself, or do you want us to do it?"

After admitting that they’d gone through his belongings, Alex and Mookie kept up their tough-guy posturing, as if they expected Yau-Man to cry, panic, beg them not to tell, or offer to go home immediately. Instead, Yau-Man calmly said, "You guys do what you need to do."

Yau-Man knew that he wasn’t in any danger, but figured it was best to tell his voting block about the incident. He explained that Alex and Mookie had gone through his belongings, found his Immunity Idol, and threatened him with the information.

Stacy, Cassandra, and Dreamz all but ignored the revelation about having the Idol — instead becoming incensed that the Mookie and Alex had gone through Yau-Man’s personal stuff and then tried to bully him.

Later that day, all of the castaways took part in an individual Immunity Challenge — a strategy game akin to the board game Battleship. Each contestant secretly chose three consecutive (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally) squares on a grid.

One at a time, each contestant chose one square on the grid to "bomb." Once all three of a contestant’s squares had been bombed, he or she was out of the game.

Dreamz and Cassandra got the game off to an auspicious start by forgetting which squares they’d chosen for themselves. Each bombed one of their own squares.

After that, everyone wound up playing a pretty solid game, and Stacy, by eliminating Alex and Yau-Man in a single move, won Immunity.

When the castaways got back to camp, Boo got all worked up because the clue he’d found on Exile Island implied that the re-buried second Hidden Immunity Idol was easy to find. He became convinced that Alex or Mookie might have found it, and for some reason, Cassandra and Stacy agreed.

Without a single clue between them, Alex and Mookie weren’t even looking for the Idol. Earl and Yau-Man suspected as much, but wisely kept quiet, so as not to seem argumentative.

The group ultimately decided to split its votes between Alex and Mookie. Once Jeff Probst announced the 3-3 tie (plus Alex’s and Mookie’s votes), the group would revote and choose Alex.

Only Alex had ideas of his own. He and Mookie had made a big to-do about "going down swinging" and causing havoc at Tribal Council. But in the end, they weren’t able to make much of a stink. Mookie cast a throwaway vote for Boo, and Alex cast the deciding vote against Mookie.

Mookie was "relieved" to be out of the game, and only regretted that he wasn’t going to be at camp to "make everyone’s lives miserable."

Next week, Alex adopts a "ninja" strategy to gather what information he can, and Boo won’t stop talking.

Ox Notes: April 26, 2007

Not So Charitable
American Idol raised a bunch of money for charity this week, but at the expense of a 17-year-old’s feelings. Plenty of folks — including Andy Denhart of Reality Blurred and Angel Cohn in the Surfer Girl blog at TV Guide — were upset by the show’s decision to trick Jordin into thinking she been eliminated, before telling her that everyone was safe this week.

Denhart wrote yesterday that, while it’s noble of American Idol to give to charity, the $5 million donated by News Corp. for the first 50 million calls is a pittance compared to the $2.5 billion the franchise is worth. Think of how much they could raise if they donated $.10 per call every week.

Conan on the Road
Conan O’Brien announced his lineup of guests as he brings his show to San Francisco next week. Looks like I’ll be staying up late of Friday night for a performance by the always captivating Tom Waits.

DwtS News
Carrie Ann Inaba filled in as a guest host on The View today, and she said she’d been looking forward to talking with Heather Mills (who was supposed to perform with partner Jonathan Roberts) about why she singled out Carrie Ann in her farewell speech. The judges don’t interact much with the contestants, so their first real conversation would’ve taken place on The View — only Heather cancelled.

Did anyone happen to catch former Dancing with the Stars pro Louis van Amstel on All My Children yesterday?

Ox Notes: April 25, 2007

No Contract Extension for Rosie
Rosie O’Donnell’s controversial run on The View comes to an end in June, after she and ABC failed to reach an agreement in contract negotiations. TV Guide’s Matt Roush has a good take on the announcement.

DwtS News
Heather Mills said in her USA Today blog that she had trouble with two key components of the Paso Doble: the dramatic element and the skirt (she’d worn pants for all of her previous dances). Also, she didn’t have the time to take the ballet lessons that Carrie Ann Inaba recommended to help her posture. Still, judge Bruno Tonioli and former contestant Shanna Moakler felt Heather should’ve stayed.

Things weren’t all somber at last night’s Results Show. Before the show began, the studio audience serenaded Len Goodman on the occasion of his 21st birthday (or so he claimed).

Buying the War
Bill Moyers Journal returns to PBS tonight with the episode "Buying the War." It examines the actions of mainstream media outlets in the early stages of the Iraq War — specifically the way networks broadcast whatever they were told by the Bush administration without questioning it. Check PBS’s website for your local listings.

DwtS 4, Week 6: Results Show

Heather came to the Results Show prepared for bad news. She’d tucked a written copy of her farewell speech into her Paso Doble top.

After a recap of last night’s performances, Len diplomatically awarded the encore to the group for their Swing number. All of the lifts were still good, although Edyta did accidentally kick John in the back of the head.

Joss Stone provided the first musical performance of the night, and she was accompanied by Tony, Elena, Julianne, and Julianne’s brother, Derek. He did some fast spins, and Tony tossed him into a back flip. If ABC’s smart, they’ll add Derek Hough to the cast next season.

The performance was followed by comments from last night’s studio audience. Former ‘N Sync-er JC Chasez liked the lifts in the Group Swing, especially Joey’s "Robot Voltron" move at the end.

Gabrielle Carteris (Andrea Zuckerman on Beverly Hills, 90210) made an excellent point when she said, "Ian did in the Group Swing what the judges want to see him do in his own dances."

George Wendt knew that John would win over the audience: "He’s always been a really fun dancer. At least, I enjoy dancing with him."

Then, Apolo & Julianne and Laila & Maks were announced as the first two couples saved by their fans’ votes. Laila joked that she could have made the competition a little easier for herself if she would’ve dropped Apolo during the Group Swing.

Members of the Dreamgirls cast performed a number from the musical. It was a strange, lip-synced performance that looked a little like karaoke with fancy choreography. Since Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson were nowhere to be seen, I didn’t give the performance my full attention.

Joss Stone returned to perform another song from her new album — but this time, with no dancers. It gave me a chance to check on the score of the Chicago Bulls NBA playoff game versus the Miami Heat. (The Bulls won.)

A package of video clips showed the various ways in which relentless practicing is starting to drive the celebrities a little crazy. Joey got distracted by everything, and Billy Ray did anything but dance. Heather giggled throughout rehearsal, while John showed Edyta bad magic tricks. Apolo and Laila acted silly, and Ian tried to eat a bug.

Apparently, there’s a limit to how many new dance steps the human mind can learn in a week.

Tom & Samantha returned after the video package to announce the next safe couple: Joey & Kym. They also revealed that the first couple in the Bottom Two was John & Edyta. When his name was called, John muttered, "oopsy-daisy."

The announcement was followed by a second set of clips, this time chronicling how the celebrities prepare themselves mentally on the day of the Performance Show. Joey pesters Kym. John reads. Billy Ray plays guitar. Apolo jumps rope. Laila practices her steps. Ian finds his dad in the audience and kisses him on the cheek, and Heather kisses the lucky penny her daughter gave her.

Finally, Tom and Samantha announced the fates of the remaining couples. Ian & Cheryl and Billy Ray & Karina would be moving on, while Heather & Jonathan joined John & Edyta in the Bottom Two.

Heather & Jonathan’s names were announced as the couple going home, and everyone — from the dancers (especially Edyta) to the judges — looked sad. But Heather got Tom laughing when she pulled a written copy of a speech from her top.

Heather said that what felt the worst was that Jonathan wouldn’t have a regular salary any longer, but she promised to find him some "great work." She went on to thank all of the members of the production staff, from hair and makeup to the orchestra — many of them by name.

What mattered most to Heather was that she and Jonathan have been able to raise thousands of dollars for charity by appearing on the show. She donated her entire DwtS salary to Viva! (Vegetarians International Voice for Animals).

She ended with an animal-friendly recommendation, suggesting that meat eaters give up meat one day each week and have a Meatless Monday. Not only is it good for animals and good for the environment, but it’s good for your health, too. Check out Johns Hopkins’ Meatless Monday website for health information and recipe ideas.

It was a very classy departure, and it was good of ABC to let Heather finish her thoughts, rather than rush her onto the dance floor. She and Jonathan danced their final dance to the song "When Will I See You Again."

Next week, the six remaining couples each have to learn two individual dances. If they thought the Group Swing was a lot of work, then this should be totally overwhelming for some of the busier celebs. I’m looking at you, Billy Ray.

DwtS 4, Week 6: A Second Opinion

The seven remaining couples treated this week’s viewers to a veritable smorgasbord of dance routines. However, the diverse mixture exerted little impact on the hierarchy of the leading pairs, who continued to sashay their way towards a rendezvous with the winner’s trophy. Here’s my two cents worth on the Week 6 Performance Show.


Apolo & Julianne
Another golden performance from the front-running duo. Apolo’s Rumba was romantic, sensuous and wonderfully creative. Julianne’s innovative routine virtually wiped Tucker Carlson’s chair-dancing fiasco right off the map.

I love the fresh material that Julianne brings to the dance floor. And Apolo’s clean performance, competent execution and relaxed attitude are a real pleasure to watch. I particularly enjoyed their split leg lift.

This couple’s contagious chemistry and beautiful artistic rendition of the Rumba was mesmerizing. Whenever I watch this team I feel like I’m observing a dance couple and not the collaborative efforts of a celebrity and professional.

Although Apolo’s Rumba received the same score as Laila’s Cha Cha, I have to give this pair a marginal edge over their closest competitors. I loved the entire routine, its seamless transitions from a stationary chair position to forward footwork movement, and its total integration of the chair prop. This duo is definitely on an Olympic quest to bring home Apolo’s sixth gold.

Maks & Laila
A funky Cha Cha Cha from the Comeback Queen. Laila’s shimmering gold dress was a fitting statement for this pair’s golden performance. Their routine was cheeky, sharp, and fun. Laila did a great job in her execution of the Cha Cha. She was confident, polished, and totally commanded the floor.

However, I completely support Len in his recommendation that she leave the choreography to Maks. I did not enjoy Laila’s "funky" contribution to the number. While her personal touch may have introduced the "Laila" factor, I felt that it spoiled the fluidity and professionalism of their performance, and would have been more appropriate in a free dance routine.

Still, this duo’s Cha Cha was easily one of the top two routines of the evening and leaves this royal pair well positioned for occupying victory lane.

Joey & Kym
An exuberant, swashbuckling performance from the trimmed-down Fat One. Joey’s Samba was strong, manly, and entertaining (no thanks to Jerry Springer’s coaching). Even though the routine fell slightly short of the perfect 10s for which he was aiming, Joey’s number was well received by the judges.

While I applaud his swiveling hips, shimmying shoulders and intricate, floor-covering footwork, I was not a fan of Joey’s samba rolls, his one-legged swiveling or his short pants. I especially disliked him mouthing the words of the song while dancing.

Still, despite my criticisms, I readily admit that Joey’s routine was well executed and merited high marks — just not as high as those he was awarded. This duo’s dance was not my favourite, but it was clearly good enough to secure them a top three placement.

Joey’s competitive spirit and well-rehearsed performances should continue to ensure that this team remains in contention all the way to the final heat.


Ian & Cheryl
Another solid but uninspired performance. Ian’s lackluster Paso Doble contained some skillful technical elements, but lacked the showmanship zing that the judges have been begging him to bring to the dance floor.

While his polished footwork and well-synchronized steps draw a modicum of praise from the judging panel, Ian’s inability to channel some genuine intensity, passion, or joy into his performance is seriously compromising his continued presence on the show. His poor posture, unpopular arm movements, and lack of clean lines are merely accelerating Ian’s potential for a crash and burn exit.

The viewers (like the judges) want Ian to let loose and give us that breakout performance that we all believe he can achieve. Unfortunately there may not be enough laps left in this race for Ian to rev up his engine, overcome his inhibitions, and regain the inside track. So far, Ian’s dancing doesn’t exhibit the winning attitude that a top contender requires.

John & Edyta
An un-mambolicious performance from the resident Dark Horse. John’s Mambo may have been reasonably entertaining, shown good musicality and included some decent footwork, but it had virtually no hip action. For a dance that, according to Edyta, is all about hips and feet, this missing ingredient equates to almost half of the required dance elements. However, John effectively compensated for his mostly stationary hips with an energetic performance and good floor coverage.

John is enjoyable to watch and his infectious attitude goes a long way in selling his routine to the audience. Unfortunately, I’m doubtful that this pair will manage to repeat their escape from the curse of the Bottom Two.

Considering that John was a last minute entry in the competition, I think that he’s done a commendable job on the show. Should this pair be handed their pink slip on Tuesday night, I suspect that he will gracefully and Cheerfully bow out of the field (so long as he gets credit for being the originator of the "Ruptured Duck" dance step!) .


Heather & Jonathan
An unexciting routine from the Transatlantic Travelers. Heather’s Paso Doble visibly lacked the electrifying passion that I associate with Evita’s principal character, the vibrant Eva Perón.

This number contained few praiseworthy or enjoyable elements. Too many of the dance movements appeared awkward, jerky and artificial. Heather’s bland facial expression failed to communicate any drama, sensuality or fire, and I totally disagree with Bruno that she captured the spirit of the dance.

Heather was another one of tonight’s competitors who opted to mouth the words of the song, a practice that I found incredibly irritating. I was also unimpressed with her flamenco hand action and weak upper body movement.

The only drama I felt from this couple came from Jonathan’s performance, not Heather’s. I doubt that viewers were as enamored with this routine as the judges would have us believe. Heather may soon be able to set her watch back to London time, since I don’t expect she’ll be around for next week’s curtain call.

Billy Ray & Karina
An entertaining, albeit technically deficient, effort from Billy Ray. Since voters refuse to liberate Karina from the onerous task of coaching and choreographing this challenging celebrity, she has made the radical decision to free herself. In Monday’s Jive Billy Ray delivered a highly personalized, gimmick-laden number that included such groundbreaking moves as "Who’s your Daddy" and the "Bubba Chicken."

Although Len managed to identify a few legitimate dance steps in the mix, the judges’ overall consensus was that Billy Ray’s routine was heavy on performance and relatively light on conventional Jive moves.

In his defense, I have to agree that Billy Ray offered up an entertaining routine — much more pleasing that his past selections. However, he is not a dancer and his entertainment contribution and dance ability falls well below that of all the other remaining celebrities in this competition. Although Billy Ray deserves to permanently roll on down the road in his Chevy love mobile, I have an inkling that he’ll be around next week for another tune-up!


The celebrities’ swing dance practice footage was almost as entertaining as their live group number. But with all of the activity happening on the dance floor, I found it extremely difficult to evaluate the couples.

Some of the standout elements that I observed included the following: Apolo’s leapfrog jump over Julianne; John’s awkward upside-down lift/promenade with Edyta draped down his back; Laila’s lift of Maks and hilarious lift-spin of Apolo; Ian’s back-to-back somersault shoulder rollover of Cheryl; and Joey’s fabulous lift sequence with Kym.

The quality of the footwork sections of the routine varied wildly from couple to couple and the overall impression was, as Heather aptly described, "organized chaos". At least there were no embarrassing falls, collisions, or injuries (at least on-air). And the outfits, both male and female, were delightful!


Ox Notes: April 23, 2007

DwtS News
People caught up with Ian Ziering’s 90210 castmate Gabrielle Carteris after the Performance Show, and she raved about Ian’s taut backside. And Joey Fatone’s been keeping in touch with the guys from ‘N Sync. Justin Timberlake even held up one of his concerts so that he could watch Joey’s first performance.

Yesterday, on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, Heather Mills said she won’t be surprised if this is the week she’s voted out.

According to last night’s TV ratings, the final half-hour of Dancing with the Stars didn’t seem to suffer from the return of Heroes.

Leno’s Big Catch
Sig & Edgar Hansen, stars of The Deadliest Catch, are scheduled to appear on tonight’s episode of The Tonight Show. I’m not sure how Jay Leno will handle it if (when) Sig & Edgar try to smoke during their interview.

Discovery’s Deadliest Catch fan page has a crab fishing game that looks a bit like a Bering Sea version of The Oregon Trail. Let’s see how the crew likes it when I put them on a grueling pace with "bare bones" rations.

Today and tomorrow are two of the rare days when European soccer makes an appearance on American basic cable, so I’m about to go park myself in front of the TV and watch AC Milan play Manchester United on ESPN2. The UEFA Champions League semi-final round continues tomorrow with Chelsea vs. Liverpool. I’m hoping to see big things from the super-tall Liverpool forward, Peter Crouch.

DwtS 4, Week 6: Performance Show

This week’s Performance Show was a solid offering that didn’t offer any major surprises. The top couples earned more high marks, and the bottom couples weren’t able to gain any ground. The highlight of the show was a lift involving Laila — and she was the one doing the lifting.

Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson — Samba
Song: Erasure, "A Little Respect"

After Judge Len Goodman called him "feminine" last week, Joey wanted to make sure he looked extra manly this week. Kym brought in the manliest guy she knows — Jerry Springer — to inspire Joey. Jerry’s motivational technique? Taking off his shirt and flexing his muscles.

Dancing to a Samba-fied version of the song, Joey displayed his manliness with a number of pelvic thrusts. Joey & Kym are really finding a nice balance in their performances, creating routines that are fun without being silly. This performance was very enjoyable.

Len told Joey, "You’re a beauty," and called him "swashbuckling," despite his "hoppy" voltas. Bruno said,"You went for it like a randy fighting cockerel," whatever that means. Carrie Ann said, "You’re insane, and that reads so well."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…9 = 27/30

Heather Mills & Jonathan Roberts — Paso Doble
Song: Andrew Lloyd Webber, "Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina"

Heather & Jonathan have to commute to and from England, now that Heather’s daughter is back in school, forcing them to miss rehearsal for the Group Swing routine. To avoid jet lag, they practiced on L.A. time, which meant practicing in their London studio at 1 a.m.

The Paso-remixed version of this song wasn’t great, and Heather’s dramatic lipsyncing was a little silly. Heather must not have heeded Carrie Ann’s advice to take ballet lessons, because her upper body was still weak, making her moves look unfinished.

Bruno, in the show’s first reference to Heather’s tabloid troubles, said, "It was so dramatic. And I know you know a thing or two about drama." Carrie Ann told Heather, "I’m still missing something here from you," pointing to her shoulders. Len said, "I loved the opening. I thought you had great passion and fire."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 23/30

John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska — Mambo
Song: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, "Mambo Swing"

In practice, John said he was proud to have lasted this long: "It’s nice to rise to Edyta’s challenge. She’s not giving me easy steps." Edyta promised, "Our Mambo is gonna be… Mambolicious."

For a guy who’s a bit top-heavy, John is surprisingly light on his feet. It may not have been a technically perfect routine, but it was nice to see him smiling at Edyta as they danced. It was my favorite performance from him yet, and John’s former Cheers castmate George Wendt was in the audience enjoying it, too.

Carrie Ann was complimentary, if a bit dismissive: "It was cute. You look a little like a little dancing teddy bear." Len appreciated that John’s finally having a good time, but said, "The actual routine was awful. He waddled out like a ruptured duck." Bruno told John,"You’ve been a great sport, but it was really like the owl and the pussycat tonight."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 19/30

Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Cha Cha Cha
Song: Sam & Dave, "Hold On! I’m Comin’"

While they were creating this week’s routine, Maks was going for "cheeky," while Laila wanted something "funky." She said she’s done doing only what Maks wants, and she insisted on taking a more active role in the choreography.

They performed a fun Cha Cha with a funky breakdown at the end, including Laila’s favorite move, "The Butterfly." Laila’s contributions worked well enough, and her personality really came through in the dance. It was a step in the right direction.

Len said, "That was pure gold. Your bit at the end there that you choreographed wasn’t really my cup of tea. I didn’t want the funk part." Bruno was much more enthusiastic: "You are turning into a magnificent obsession. It was a little Tina Turner going there at the end." Carrie Ann said, "I thought that was fantastic," and reminded Laila, "Eyes up when you dance."

Samantha Harris interviewed the couple backstage while waiting for the judges to prepare their scores. Evidently, someone in production fed Samantha the scores too early, and she announced Laila’s score before the judges did. She quickly sent it out to the floor, where the judges just smiled and held up their paddles.

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 28/30

Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff — Jive
Song: T. Rex, "I Love to Boogie"

In response to harsh criticism from the judges last week, Karina gave up trying to make Billy Ray into a good dancer: "This week, I don’t want Billy Ray to worry about technique or doing it properly. I just want him to have fun and enjoy himself."

So she let him do some of his own choreography. "That’s funny. Let’s do that!" he shouted as he did some hip-thrusting-while-hopping maneuver. Karina admitted, "It’s hard for me to accept that I’ve made peace with the fact that our Jive is not going to score 10s this week for technique."

The result was hideous. The routine was supposed to be fun, but came off as foolish. Moves that were supposed to be cheeky became overtly sexual. At one point, Karina flipped upside down, and Billy Ray spread her legs and looked right at her crotch. If they wanted to look like they don’t care anymore, then they succeeded.

The judges were more forgiving than I was. Bruno said, "The crazy bear has been let loose at a cheerleading convention tonight." Carrie Ann joked, "If you can’t get the steps, make up your own dance." Len told Billy Ray, "Whatever you lack in dance ability, it is always entertaining, and I love to watch you."

After receiving their scores, Billy Ray said, "I want an 8 so I can go home." That’s a winning attitude.

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…7, Bruno…7 = 21/30

Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough — Rumba
Song: Gwen Stefani, "Cool"

Because of Apolo & Julianne’s oft mentioned brother-sister relationship, he was having trouble taking such a sexy dance seriously. So Julianne brought in her brother and fellow dancer, Derek, who talked about having had to perform a romantic Rumba with Julianne himself. Apolo may have felt better after a Derek’s pep talk, but I sure didn’t. I was so creeped out, I almost refused to talk to my own brother when he called tonight.

Apolo began the performance seated in a chair (a move that doomed Tucker Carlson), but he and Julianne managed to incorporate the chair throughout the routine. It was probably the best example of prop integration ever on DwtS. Julianne never cheats on the choreography, and Apolo is always able to execute.

Carrie Ann said, "I thought that was beautiful. The choreography was fantastic." Len didn’t like how much they relied on the chair, but Julianne explained, "We didn’t want to just use the chair in the beginning and just leave it there." Bruno said, "That was a choreographed poem to me," while Len continued his protest: "It was theatrical. This is a ballroom. It’s not a theater."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…9, Len…9, Bruno…10 = 28/30

(When the camera returned to the dance floor, Tom delivered his next intro while reclining in the chair.)

Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke — Paso Doble
Song: Jennifer Lopez, "Waiting For Tonight"

Ian was excited about the Paso because he "finally had a character to play with." Cheryl told him, "I want a bull fighter, not Beverly Hills." The 90210-alum Ian grumbled, "Oh, you didn’t do that!"

From now on, Cheryl needs create a story for each dance, because Ian seemed more confident in character. Overall, I really like Ian’s dancing, and he was a little looser tonight. But something’s missing in his connection with Cheryl. I worry that Ian’s self-consciousness is getting in the way of their on-floor partnership.

Len said, "I was a little bit disappointed. It lacked drama. I didn’t like your posture. I didn’t like your arms." Bruno agreed: "There’s still an element I’m not getting. I’m getting very frustrated" Carrie Ann told Ian, "You have what it takes to do really, really well in this competition… [But] you’re lacking a sense of joy and a sense of truth when you dance" She suggested Ian take his cues on how to dance with joy from…Billy Ray?

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30

Group Swing
Song: Stray Cats, "Rock This Town"

DwtS Tour Pros Christian Perry and Annette Nicole instructed the couples in rehearsal. When Christian asked which of the guys was the strongest, Laila raised her hand. The couples practiced their lifts and leaps with only a few minor injuries — mostly to Ian.

The performance was good, but the camera work made it hard to get a sense of what the dance looked like as a whole. There were lots of close ups of the couples’ faces, but few of their feet. There were plenty of tricks, but the highlight had to be Laila lifting Apolo and spinning with him in her arms — all while she wore high heels.

The group Swing wasn’t scored by the judges, but they all said they liked it.

28 — Laila & Maks, Apolo & Julianne
27 — Joey & Kym
24 — Ian & Cheryl
23 — Heather & Jonathan
21 — Billy Ray & Karina
19 — John & Edyta

This week, I split my votes between the two top couples: Laila & Maks and Apolo & Julianne. And I predict that Heather & Jonathan will be back in the Bottom Two, along with John & Edyta.