Monthly Archives: April 2007

Apprentice L.A.: Finale

Trump hired Stefani as his latest Apprentice, largely because she was easy to get along with. Based on her competition, that’s pretty high marks.

But Stefani wasn’t the candidate most people were talking about in the days leading up to the finale. Kristine got naked for Playboy, and she will be the magazine’s cover girl for June.

Most of the live Apprentice: L.A. finale comprised cast introductions and recap footage. I’m sure the crowd at the open-air Hollywood Bowl appreciated that — especially once it started to rain, halfway through the program.

Frank and Nicole, neither of whom stood any chance of being hired, had to sit on stage for more than 30 minutes before they were both fired — Frank for being stupid enough to ask his arch enemy, Surya, to help with the final task, and Nicole for being distracted by her in-show romance with Tim.

Nobody pointed out that Trump didn’t seem to have a problem when last season’s winner, Sean, got involved with a fellow cast member.

Stefani and James were asked to say nice things about each other before Trump asked them, "Well, then why don’t I just hire him [or her]?" Stefani was quick to answer that Trump should hire her, and then she could hire James as her employee.

Then Trump introduced footage of Stefani and her "beautiful family." Apparently, she’s very close with a construction foreman she works with, as well as her karate instructor, because nobody else was featured in her video. That was followed by footage of James’ home life, which he shares with his wife and two cute daughters.

Trump traditionally asks the fired candidates for their opinion on who he should hire, and cast members have made passionate pleas on behalf of their favorites in seasons past. Not this time.

Angela, Trump’s favorite Olympian, wouldn’t answer the question. Frank told Trump, "You’re on your own." And Surya suggested Trump hire Sanjaya, since he was now available. Only Heidi (who supported Stefani) and Aaron (James) chose sides at all.

When it came time to hire someone and put the drenched live audience out of its misery, Trump told Stefani that, even though she’d never volunteered to serve as Project Manager, she’d at least been able to get along with everyone.

Then he turned to James and cryptically told him, "there were certain things and certain dialogue that you gave during the course — and you know what I’m talking about — and that bothered me very much."

Trump then fired James. It would’ve been nice if he’d used something that took place in an episode as a pretext for firing James, instead of some off-camera occurrence that viewers never got to see. In a post-show interview with Buddy TV, even Stefani didn’t know what Trump was referring to.

Trump hired Stefani. She’ll be working on the construction of a new Trump resort in the Caribbean — and no doubt appearing on the next season of The Apprentice. That’s assuming that NBC brings this sinking ship back.

TAR All-Stars: Episode 10

On The Amazing Race, karmic retribution sometimes comes disguised as a lousy cab driver. But when you keep that crappy cabbie for a whole leg, that’s not karma; it’s just a bad idea.

Teams left Hong Kong via the Turbo Jet Ferry to the city of Macau on mainland China. There, they needed to find the tallest structure in Macau: Macau Tower (which resembles Seattle’s Space Needle, Auckland’s Sky Tower, or Toronto’s CN Tower).

The building didn’t open until 10 a.m., and the first three teams — Oswald & Danny, Dustin & Kandice, and Charla & Mirna — all arrived ahead of time.

Ozzy & Danny were broke by the end of the last leg, and were only given $75 to complete this one. By the time they’d paid for ferry tickets and a taxi to the tower, they were already down to $16. The guys decided that prostituting themselves was probably forbidden on the race.

The clue warned that there was a Yield ahead, so Oswald & Danny decided to use their first place position to earn some cash from one of the other teams. When The Beauty Queens arrived at the tower, Ozzy & Danny said they’d Yield a team of the Beauty Queens’ choosing in exchange for cash.

The Queens, who had about $200, reasoned that it was a wise investment if it meant that someone else got Yielded besides them. They gave Ozzy & Danny $45 and told them to Yield Eric & Danielle, whom they believed to be better racers than Charla & Mirna.

Ozzy & Danny took the money, but Ozzy was immediately wracked with guilt. When Charla & Mirna arrived, he told them what he and Danny had done. Charla & Mirna said they would’ve given the Cha Cha Chas money without requiring them to Yield anyone.

Mirna was disappointed in Ozzy & Danny, but managed to let her hatred of the Beauty Queens warp the details of the transaction when she discussed it later with Charla. Mirna was certain that Dustin & Kandice had somehow tricked or forced the guys to use the Yield against their will.

At 10, the lead teams were let into the building, where they had to wait another hour before they could ride an elevator to the Observation Deck. There, Ozzy & Danny Yielded Eric & Danielle, as promised.

The Observation Deck was setting for this leg’s Roadblock. One team member had to walk around the Observation Deck’s outer rim before getting in a harness and jumping 61 stories to the ground below. Obviously, it was not a task for anyone squeamish about heights.

As Dustin, Danny, and Charla were taking the plunge, Eric & Danielle arrived. They’d been sure that they wouldn’t be Yielded for a second time, and unleashed a string of expletives about Ozzy & Danny when they saw their pictures on the Yield sign.

Eric tore the photograph of Ozzy & Danny off the Yield sign and stuck it to the seat of his pants, where it remained until the end of the episode. When their waiting period was up, Eric suited up and jumped off the building.

Meanwhile, the other teams were on their way to the beautiful Lou Lim Ioc Garden, where a Detour clue awaited them.

Teams had to choose between Dragon and Noodle. In Noodle, teams had to make two bundles of noodles in a traditional method, which involved flattening the dough with a long bamboo pole and slicing the noodles very thin.

In Dragon, teams grabbed a wooden drum and dragon head and carried them on foot almost one mile to the nearby harbor. There, they attached their dragon head to the prow of a rowboat and handed the drum off to the coxswain (I’m brushing up on my sailing terms in preparation for Pirate Master. Argh!).

Ozzy & Danny got to the garden first and decided to do the Dragon task. Their driver misread the clue and took them straight to the harbor, instead of the warehouse where the drum and dragon head were waiting.

As the driver turned around and drove them to the warehouse, Oswald muttered from the backseat, "God, grant me the patience to withstand the things I cannot change… and the intelligence to hide the body of this man once I’m done killing him."

Danny was certain he’d memorized the route the driver had taken from the harbor, so he led Ozzy through the streets of Macau with their trinkets. Only Danny’s sense of direction wasn’t that good, and none of the residents they asked seemed to know that Macau had a harbor.

Meanwhile, Dustin & Kandice headed to the noodle shop, followed by Mirna & Charla and, eventually, Eric & Danielle. Dustin & Kandice watched a noodle-making demo, in which one person straddled the horizontal bamboo pole and hopped up and down. Another person fed the dough under the pole as it was flattened. The whole thing worked like a giant primitive pasta machine, only more erotic.

Lanky Kandice hopped on the pole as Dustin fed the dough and chanted, "Ride the pony." They sliced their first batch of noodles too thick for the noodle-maker’s taste, and then had to start over from the beginning.

While they worked on their second batch, Charla & Mirna arrived. Mirna was obviously too short to work the pole, and she was even too short to reach the table. She had to stand on top of the table to help feed the dough, as Mirna struggled with the bamboo pole.

The cousins cut their first batch of noodles too thick as well, per Charla’s instructions, and they had to start over as well. Dustin & Kandice successfully sliced their noodles and left to find the next clue, just as Eric & Danielle arrived.

Eric & Danielle were the only team to get the noodles right on the first try and were able to finish before Charla & Mirna. Their clue told them to travel by taxi to find some Mini Mokes, which are small cars with no doors.

Dustin & Kandice were first to the vehicles, and they chose a pink "Barbie car." The clue on the windshield instructed them to drive themselves five miles to the island of Taipa.

The Beauty Queens found a guy on a motorbike to guide them to the Island, and they reached the Pit Stop in first place. For their victory, they won a pair of WaveRunners.

Eric & Danielle paid their cabbie to lead them to Taipa, and they reached the Pit Stop in second place. However, they weren’t able to check in, as they’d been "Marked for Elimination" for finishing last in the previous leg. They had to serve a 30 minute penalty for failing to arrive first.

As Eric & Danielle paced and prayed not to be eliminated, Dustin & Kandice explained to them why Ozzy & Danny Yielded them — and the Queens’ own responsibility in making it happen. Eric appreciated the explanation but promised retribution if he and Danielle survived to the next leg.

Charla & Mirna finished the noodle task not long after Eric & Danielle. But Mirna is probably the worst driver in Amazing Race history, and this task was no exception. She ran the car onto a curb and stopped traffic for several minutes, before some helpful pedestrians pushed her car to the side of the road.

The cousins hired a cabbie to lead them to the island, and, miraculously, Mirna was able to keep up with him. Eric & Danielle were only halfway through their penalty time when the cousins arrived at the Pit Stop. Charla & Mirna were awarded second place.

After turning in their dragon head and drum, Ozzy & Danny hopped in their Mini Moke. They also followed a cab driver to Taipa Island — the same cab driver who’d taken them to the harbor out of sequence on the earlier clue.

It should’ve been no surprise, then, when the cabbie drove them to the wrong side of the island and told them they should just walk to the Pit Stop. They finally got him to lead them to the right side of the island, but not before Eric & Danielle had already been awarded third place after their penalty had been served.

Ozzy & Danny reached the mat in last place, but were saved by another non-elimination leg. They’ll be Marked for Elimination on the next leg.

Next week, Danielle freaks out during a Roadblock.

DwtS 4, Week 5: Power Rankings

7. John Ratzenberger & Edyta Sliwinska
John & Edyta’s Samba was a lot of fun, but I’m afraid their reprieve may just be temporary. A vote for John & Edyta this week was probably as much a vote against Clyde & Elena as it was actual praise for this couple’s performance.

Their best hope for survival is to give another energetic routine — assuming that they haven’t been assigned a slow dance — and pray that either Billy Ray or Heather perform horribly. Otherwise, good old Cliffy the mailman might be returned to sender.

6. Heather Mills & Jonathan Roberts
Despite an impressive early showing, Heather’s descent to the Bottom Two was inevitable. The dancing amputee mystique (Who knew there was such a force?) has faded, and we’re seeing true size of Heather’s fanbase — and it ain’t that big. She and Jonathan are totally capable of pulling off a great routine, and they’re going to need it now more than ever.

5. Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina Smirnoff
Billy Ray isn’t that impressive as a dancer, but he seems like a nice enough guy. However, that shouldn’t be enough to keep him out of the Bottom Two week after week. I wouldn’t be surprised if his success is largely due to the Hannah Montana fans who get a kick out of seeing his daughter, Miley, in the audience.

Billy Ray is still his own biggest obstacle. The group Swing number could make him nervous if he’s worried about being compared directly to better dancers like Apolo or Joey. And seeing Clyde liberated and given the extra time for golf and family activities might sap some of Billy Ray’s enthusiasm for working a third full-time job that doesn’t come naturally to him. If he’s really had enough, he’ll have a hard time concealing it.

4. Ian Ziering & Cheryl Burke
Ian & Cheryl have been consistent all season — which is the polite way of saying they haven’t done anything spectacular, yet. If they don’t perform an amazing routine in the next two weeks, I think Cheryl’s going to find herself in the Bottom Two for the first time in her storied DwtS career.

3. Laila Ali & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Laila & Maks have moved around in the Power Rankings since their first performance, although never out of the top four. They finished in second place with the judges this week, which is a real turnaround after a two not-so-great performances. To really ensure their safety, they’re going to have to score higher than Joey & Kym on a regular basis.

2. Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson
I wouldn’t be surprised if Joey & Kym and Apolo & Julianne trade Results Show encores for the most of the season. Joey & Kym have no problem choreographing entertaining routines, so they should continue to stay near the top of the leaderboard.

1. Apolo Anton Ohno & Julianne Hough
Their perfect-scoring Samba was the push that Apolo & Julianne needed to make them the favorites. So what gives them the edge over the competition? Cuteness. Sure, they can be sexy on the dance floor, but when they’re standing in front of the judges, they’re all cute.

That cuteness makes us want to protect them from harsh judges’ comments, and makes us hope for their success. MOIB reader Jenny K. has even compared Julianne’s charm to that of Doris Day. Having watched That Touch of Mink a couple weeks back, I can see the comparison. None of the other couples has exhibited the charm that Apolo & Julianne have.

Unless they screw up, it may already be too late for anyone to stop Apolo & Julianne’s date with the trophy.

Ox Notes: April 20, 2007

Earth Day on TV
USA Today has a comprehensive list of environmentally-themed shows airing this weekend, in honor of Earth Day on Sunday. And tonight, ABC gets into the act at 10 p.m. EDT, with a 20/20 special called Planet Earth 2007: Seven Ways to Help Save the World.

HGTV has announced some of the celebrity guests that will appear on the upcoming season of Living With Ed, including Bradley Whitford, Sharon Lawrence, and Daryl Hannah. The second season of Ed Begley Jr.’s comical chronicle of sustainable living returns on August 26.

Brian Regan Gets His Due
Stand-up comic Brian Regan has partnered with Comedy Central for a tour, TV specials, and a DVD release. Regan’s been doing stand-up for twenty years, and continues to sell out theaters without ever resorting to "blue" material.

I became a fan Brian Regan in the late ’80s, and when I saw him live last year, he was just as funny as ever. Check out Brian Regan’s Official Site for audio and video clips — his "Godzilla" bit on Opie & Anthony is hilarious.

This Marriage is "Dhoomed"
MOIB extends its congratulations to our favorite celebrity couple, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, on the day of their wedding. If you’ve never seen a Bollywood movie, Dhoom 2 is a great place to start. It’s an over-the-top action flick starring the happy couple, although they don’t play onscreen lovebirds in this film.

Survivor Fiji: Episode 10

  • I don’t want to dissuade you from reading our recap, but this episode was so good — chock full of hubris, chaos, strategy, con-artistry, and comeuppance — I highly recommend that even the most casual Survivor fan go to the CBS website and watch the episode in its entirety, first. Look for the "Watch Full Episodes Free" link on the left side of the CBS homepage.

It’s hard to believe that one of the best strategic episodes in Survivor history hinged almost entirely upon the actions of previous non-factors Cassandra, Dreamz, and Stacy.

Michelle’s ouster at the last Tribal Council ruined all of Earl’s plans. With nine players left in the game, he was now faced with securing the loyalty of at least one or two other players to augment the alliance he had with Cassandra and Yau-Man. The perfect opportunity arose when Cassandra won the Reward Challenge.

The challenge was one of those delightfully evil Survivor quizzes in which each player fills out a questionnaire about the other contestants (e.g., "Which contestant would you not invite to your parents’ home for dinner?"). After the questionnaires are turned in, the Survivors try to guess what the consensus answers were among the group. The most famous of those quizzes occurred during Survivor: Exile Island, when fire-dancer Courtney learned, to her surprise, that her fellow castaways thought she was a total poser.

This time, Stacy was the tribe’s whipping girl. Not only was she the first one eliminated from the challenge, but she learned that her tribemates felt she’d wasted her opportunities on Survivor, and that she was the one contestant nobody wanted to see once the game is over.

Alex also took a beating. The others let him know he had a sense of entitlement, and that he was the answer to the question, "Who mistakenly believes they are in control of this game?" (Remember that.)

Cassandra answered every question right and won the chance to spend a night on a luxury yacht with three friends. One of those friends was not Mookie, whom she immediately sent to Exile Island. Mookie later vowed that sending him to Exile Island would be "the worst mistake of her life."

Seizing upon the opportunity to win people over to her alliance, Cassandra picked free agents Dreamz and Boo to join her on the yacht. The third spot went to her comrade, Yau-Man. Boo agreed to Cassandra’s alliance as soon as he received his first margarita.

Yau-Man’s method for assuring Dreamz’s loyalty was a little more methodical than friendly persuasion: "Feed him. Get him away from everybody. Just brainwash him, basically."

But even as Dreamz agreed to target Alex in the next vote, Cassandra could tell from the look in Dreamz’s eyes that he was still waffling. The morning after they returned to camp, Earl caught Dreamz having a strategy session with Alex.

Cassandra and Earl talked with Dreamz about the doubts they still had about him, and in an attempt to appease them, Dreamz blurted out that Mookie possessed one of the show’s two Hidden Immunity Idols. Rather than reassuring Earl, the confession proved that Dreamz was a loose cannon — one who might be useful, but was ultimately unreliable.

Before any more strategy sessions could take place, it was time for the Immunity Challenge. It was strictly an individual challenge, with none of the temporary teams of last week. Contestants had to hold themselves steady inside a structure that resembled a door frame, standing on two small wooden strips. Once your feet hit the ground, you were out.

Every thirty minutes, contestants had to move down to an even smaller set of wooden strips. The challenge was designed for someone small and light, and there’s no one on the island smaller and lighter than Yau-Man. He won yet another Immunity Challenge, giving his alliance reason to hope.

After the challenge, the self-proclaimed "Four Horsemen" (Alex, Edgardo, Mookie, and Dreamz) figured that Earl had found the other Hidden Immunity Idol, because he’d been to Exile Island more than anyone else, and had thus received the most clues about the idol’s whereabouts. (In truth, Yau-Man had the Idol, though he might share it with Earl, if necessary.)

They decided to vote Earl out immediately, hoping to surprise him before he had a chance to play the Immunity Idol. Alex was sure that Stacy would join them, giving them the five votes needed for a majority.

But, at the same time, Yau-Man was alone at camp with Stacy, who wasn’t so keen on being the honorary Fifth Horseman. Yau-Man hinted that if she agreed to vote for "anybody but Earl," he would make sure that Stacy received no votes, herself. He then said that if she voted for Alex, she would not be alone. She agreed to vote for Alex "to save myself."

When Alex got around to filling Stacy in on their plan to vote for Earl, she’d feigned heat sickness as a way to avoid giving her consent. Being unable to decrypt such an obvious sign himself, Alex talked to Edgardo, who said, "That means that she’s not in, dude."

It was time for Plan B. Edgardo got Dreamz to admit that the other side was planning on voting for Alex. The Horsemen decided that, if Alex had Mookie’s Hidden Immunity Idol, he would play it at Tribal Council. That would make Alex safe, even should he receive five votes. And the person with the second-most votes — Earl — would be sent home.

Mookie reluctantly agreed to give up the idol, and he covertly passed it to Alex. Not so covertly, however, that Dreamz didn’t see it.

Eager to please absolutely everyone on the island, Dreamz ran right back to Earl’s group and told them that Alex had the Idol. The group decided that they could catch the Four Horsemen off guard if they all voted for Mookie, instead.

Dreamz agreed, but it wasn’t long before he was approached by the other three Horsemen, who had a new plan. They’d decided to vote for Cassandra instead of Earl, just in case Earl played his own Idol.

There was no way that Dreamz would vote for his pal Cassandra, but he played along anyway. He kept a straight face as he assured the Horsemen that the other side didn’t know about the Idol and would still be voting for Alex. He managed not to laugh as Alex — still incorrectly thinking he was in control of the game, even after the Reward Challenge — bragged, "This is brilliant!"

But the truly brilliant move belonged to Stacy. She, Yau-Man, Earl, Cassandra, and Boo were also discussing strategy, in the tribe’s cave. There was some uncertainty regarding whether Dreamz would (accidentally or not) reveal their latest plan to vote out Mookie.

Stacy made the issue moot when she suggested, "If they think we’re voting between Mookie and Alex, why don’t we vote off Edgardo?"

Boo agreed, "That’d come out of nowhere."

To ensure their surprise strategy’s success, there was only one thing they needed to do: not tell Dreamz.

At Tribal Council, Mookie, Alex, and Edgardo went ahead and voted for Cassandra, and Dreamz voted for Mookie. Once all of the votes were cast, Jeff Probst asked if anyone had an Immunity Idol they’d like to use.

Alex calmly stood up and handed the Idol to Jeff. He sat down with a smug expression, as Earl and Yau-Man faked impressed looks, as if to say, "Well played, old chap."

Alex, Earl, and Edgardo grinned as the first three votes were read: Cassandra, Cassandra, Cassandra.

Mookie managed a curious, if not worried, expression as Jeff displayed the fourth vote: "Mookie." Dreamz was confident that the remaining votes would read "Mookie" as well, while the other Horsemen were certain the rest of the votes were for Alex.

If you’ve ever imagined what the faces of the Mudville fans looked like when the mighty Casey struck out in the poem "Casey at the Bat," they looked exactly like Edgardo, Alex, and Mookie as Jeff displayed the next five votes — all for Edgardo.

The Horsemen’s brilliant plan had been crushed, and they’d lost their lone bargaining chip in the process. On top of that, Dreamz was clearly no longer on their side. In one flawless move, Earl’s alliance had reduced the Four Horsemen to Two.

Edgardo, in his post-elimination video, was disappointed, and blamed his ouster primarily on Dreamz. But he smiled and shrugged as he announced a farewell wish for one of the castaways: "Cassandra, I hope that you get voted off next, because I don’t like you very much."

Next time, Mookie and Alex take Dreamz to task for flipping on the them. But when they root through Yau-Man’s belongings and find the hidden Immunity Idol, Mookie and Alex develop a new plan that is absolutely foolproof. Seriously, this one is. There’s nothing that could go wrong. I swear. Idiots.

Ox Notes: April 19, 2007

Red Carpet Rinna
Joan and Melissa Rivers, regular features at entertainment awards pre-shows, have been replaced by Lisa Rinna. Rinna takes over the red carpet duties for the TV Guide Channel from them at September’s Emmy Awards.

What Not to Watch
According to the Yahoo! TV review of NBC’s new show, The Real Wedding Crashers, the show sounds like a real bore. The brides and grooms whose weddings are being "crashed" are in on the joke, so what’s the point?

Sports News
I know MOIB isn’t exactly the place you expect to read about pro sports, but bear with me. The television schedule for four of the Chicago Bulls first round playoff games against the Miami Heat has been released (all times Central Time):

  • Saturday, April 21: Miami at Bulls, 2 p.m. (ABC)
  • Tuesday, April 24: Miami at Bulls, 7 p.m. (CSN/TNT)
  • Friday, April 27: Bulls at Miami, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Sunday, April 29: Bulls at Miami, noon (ABC)

There’s one reason why this news is important, even if you’re not a regular fan of basketball: Andres Nocioni. He’s a forward on the Bulls, and watching one of his games is enough to make you a fan of Noce, if not a fan of the NBA.

Nocioni has a (mostly) controlled wildness to his play that allows him to score on average 14 points per game, while simultaneously looking like he could fall over at any moment. He’s also one of the league’s most tenacious defenders, utterly unafraid of anyone.

He’s also my favorite interview. His slightly high-pitched voice (almost Peter Lorre-like), Argentinian accent, and humble demeanor make it easy to forget that he’s 6′ 7".

Noce is always tweaking opposing players, grabbing their jerseys and setting screens of questionable legality. In his rookie season, Nocioni even pulled the string from inside LeBron James’ waistband while guarding him. But he’s not a dirty player. Don’t believe me? Just ask him!

Back in the 2004-2005 season, Nocioni was the catalyst for one of the greatest basketball plays I’ve ever seen. The quality of this video isn’t so good, but the play is. Warning: You may not want to relive this if you’re a Knicks fan.

Ox Notes: April 18, 2007

DwtS News
Kathy Griffin, in the audience of this week’s Results Show, told People she hopes to work on a project with Apolo Anton Ohno: "I would like to do Making Out with the Stars, a new series I’m pitching to him — and him alone — where it’s just a show where he and I make out for an hour."

Kathy also told TV Guide that she will not be competing on a future edition of Dancing with the Stars. Macy Gray said that she’s not interested either.

According to Lisa Saltman, Billy Ray felt attacked by the judges during Monday night’s show. And Heather Mills said in her blog that she was supposed to balance on the other leg at the end of their routine. She and Jonathan Roberts will be dancing the Paso Doble at the next Performance Show.

Ambitious Bob Geldof Project
Bob Geldof and the BBC are undertaking "the biggest sociological and anthropological project in the history of the world." The BBC will create a high-def series — akin to their Blue Planet and Planet Earth series — called Human Planet, which will air in 2010.

In addition, the BBC is working with Geldof’s production company to create a Dictionary of Man, which will record the history of every human society in 900 half-hour films. I can’t imagine what it would be like to plan for something like this, but I’m definitely eager to watch.

Ahoy!
Mark Burnett’s newest reality TV endeavor, Pirate Master, premieres on May 31 on CBS, and he gave TV Guide the scoop on the swashbuckling series. As soon as promotions for the show start in earnest, I’m sure I’ll be hooked.

The next season of Survivor, one of Burnett’s other creations, will be filmed in China.

DwtS 4, Week 5: Results Show

At least one of the Dancing with the Stars celebrities had prepared for a spot in the Bottom Two this week. Clyde was more than ready to trade in his dance shoes for golf spikes. However, the other celeb at risk of elimination was a bit of a surprise.

After a recap of last night’s performances, the judges asked Apolo & Julianne for an encore of their 30-point Samba. Comedian Kathy Griffin was seated floorside — trying to persuade the producers to appear on Season 5, I hope.

Next week, the couples will be dancing a group Swing routine, and, to demonstrate, dancers from the DwtS tour performed to the song "Zoot Suit Riot." The group included Edyta, Cheryl, Julianne, Alec, and Brian, as well as Louis van Amstel, tour pro Annette Nicole, and Christian Perry (the pro from last season’s Slim-Fast Challenge).

As the dancers caught their breath, Samantha Harris caught up with some of the celebrities, backstage. She asked Heather how she recovered from her fall at the end of last night’s routine. Heather replied matter-of-factly, "Just jump up."

During a segment featuring comments from last night’s audience, Lance Bass mentioned how impressed he was by Heather’s recovery: "She handled it very well." Retired boxer Sugar Ray Leonard was pulling for fellow boxer Laila.

And Florence Henderson has set her sites on a younger man: "I thought that little Apolo… he’s one hot little number, isn’t he?" Yes, and I’m sure he appreciates being called "little," twice — by Mrs. Brady, no less.

After that, the first two safe couples were announced. Laila & Maks were almost a given, but even John & Edyta were surprised when their own names were called. Edyta gasped and covered her mouth with her hands before embracing a very smiley John.

Samantha asked John if having fun on the dance floor helped them in the voting, and he replied, "That, and the baby boom." Laila was confident that she and Maksim could earn a perfect score from the judges. Maks revealed his long term plan: "We’ll take it one 10 at a time."

The next performance of the night came from Season 2 contestant Lisa Rinna, who’s starring in a new Broadway production of the popular musical, Chicago. She danced with a group of male dancers, and she sang as well — although I think the vocals were prerecorded.

Macy Gray was up next, performing her new song "Finally Made Me Happy." She wasn’t accompanied by any dancers, but she did have a sparkly microphone stand.

The performance was followed by a day in the life of the show’s makeup artists and hair stylists. Just like the costume designers, they have to design new looks for each performance. On show days, the female stars and dancers have to arrive at 8 a.m., and each of them spends at least three hours having hair done and makeup applied.

The men don’t spend nearly as long in the chair, but they all do wear makeup. Clyde has it easiest of all: "My hair takes about a minute… My makeup doesn’t take that long. I don’t have to do any spray tanning. I’m pretty lucky in that department."

Then, two of the highest-scoring couples, Apolo & Julianne and Joey & Kym, were told they’d be back next week.

Before the fates of the last four couples were announced, the stars were featured in a segment about the judges. Ian said that facing the judges make him feel "like I just ate a bug." Laila prefers the control she has in her day job: "I usually just knock someone out and handle it myself."

When they’re not confused by the judges’ accents, some of the stars worry that they’re going to say something nasty back to the judges. Heather especially likes it when the judges fight amongst themselves. Billy Ray confessed, "I’m secretly longing for an 8. If I get an 8, then I have reached my goal, and I can go home."

Finally, Ian & Cheryl and Billy Ray & Karina were told they’d be back next week, meaning that Clyde & Elena and Heather & Jonathan were in the Bottom Two. Heather held Clyde’s hand as they waited for the verdict.

Clyde & Elena were eliminated, but Clyde didn’t seem that upset: "I have tee times set up for the next week." He thanked Elena, the fans, and the judges before the couple danced their final dance, to Boyz II Men’s "End of the Road."

DwtS 4, Week 5: A Second Opinion

It’s full speed ahead for the leading DwtS couples. This week’s routines confirmed which four pairs are sharing the pole position in this race to claim the show’s grand prize: that fugly mirror ball trophy. Here’s my two cents worth on Week 5’s Performance Show.

The Incredibles

Apolo & Julianne
A sizzling routine from the Disney duo! This couple certainly had a tiger in their tank tonight. Their high energy Samba was rhythmic, polished, and filled with captivating moves. An enchanting performance from the first roar. Apolo looked relaxed, enthusiastic and totally prepared to live life on the wild side – a real party animal!

It’s no surprise that the judges were enthralled with their performance. However, a perfect score at the Week 5 mark is going to be difficult to maintain. Still, Apolo and his partner continue to make tracks directly towards the winner’s circle. Some of the remaining couples may need to renew their hunting permits if they hope to catch this swift-footed twosome.

Joey & Kym

An impressive story-centric Rumba from Jokester Joey. This couple’s dance was strong, smooth and romantic. Once again, Joey’s fluid hand and arm movements convincingly captured the sensuality of the dance. In addition, Kym’s choreography was beautifully synchronized to their musical selection. Except for Joey’s too-short pants, a few questionably effeminate dance moves, and his slightly over-dramatized performance, I thoroughly enjoyed this number.

I particularly relished Joey’s response to Len’s criticism when he playfully exposed his more feminine persona in his backstage chat with Samantha. Joey is clearly skilled at turning a bad review into a positive experience. Some of the other celebs should take a page from his book in learning how to constructively handle negative reviews. This team remains a popular choice thanks to both their dancing abilities and their charming behind-the-scenes personalities. Onward and upward are my marching orders for this pair.

Ian & Cheryl
Ian retains his title of Mr. Consistency again this week. Despite Cheryl’s frustration with Ian’s initial reluctance to embrace her Samba choreography, this couple managed to pull off a competent routine. Ian’s performance included lots of hip action, some Grade A shoulder shimmying, and an enjoyable balance of moving and stationary footwork. Although Ian’s arms were not as fully extended as they could have been, and there were several unsynchronized steps, overall, their dance was polished and entertaining.

I concur with Carrie Ann’s opinion that Ian’s confidence is visibly lacking on the dance floor. He needs to fully commit to his performance before this couple can hope to pull in the higher marks. Still, this week’s Samba was more than adequate enough for this couple to safely sashay through to the next round.

Laila & Maks
Ready, Set, Rumba! This royal pair resoundedly reclaimed their throne with tonight’s hot, sexy, titillating performance. This couple delivered a strong, smoldering routine that contained all the expected Rumba elements: slow seductive movements, sensual walks, and romantic interplay. Laila’s facial expressions were much more attuned to the dance this week, convincing the audience to buy into the performance portion of her routine.

Tonight’s Rumba was the breakout number that this duo so desperately needed. And the comical behind-the-scenes footage with Laila’s vigilant fiancé, Curtis, was priceless! I loved Maks’ acknowledgement of Curtis’ presence in the audience, and I commend Laila for her ability to commit to the performance, while her sweetheart attentively observed her dance floor antics.

Two Weeks Notice

Heather & Jonathan
A fun, committed performance from DwtS’ s physically challenged celebrity. Does anyone else find it remarkable that Heather’s Samba covered far more of the dance floor than our resident NBA champ’s routine, despite his extra long strides? While Heather’s costume may have been rather nauseating (to put it mildly) her footwork, swaying hips, and shoulder shimmies were competently executed. Other than her embarrassing tumble at the end of the dance, only a few of Heather’s moves jarred the fluidity of their routine. Kudos to Jonathan for once again successfully choreographing an innovative number that showcased his partner’s strengths. 

Watching this couple, I have the distinct impression that they don’t skimp on their practice time. Their dances are always synchronized, polished, and joyful. Heather’s diligence has earned her the right to confidently step forward to the next phase of the competition. She just has to watch out for the oil slicks along the way!

John & Edyta
An entertaining but weak performance from Cheers’ Cliffy. John’s Samba was heavy on the carnival theme — flavoured with disco elements and filled with infectious party spirit — but noticeably lacking in dance substance. His upper body was too loose, his footwork messy, and his steps too bouncy. With Edyta on the floor, I often find it difficult to concentrate on what John is doing. I wonder if the judges are afflicted in the same way.

I admire John’s obvious effort at being both a conscientious participant in this season’s show and at enjoying the experience while it lasts. John’s days may be numbered, but the audience continues to appreciate his weekly presence. I hope that his more senior supporters burn the midnight oil ranking up enough votes to keep him around for another week. While John may not run with the pack leaders, he delivers an entertaining warm-up act.

Intolerable Cruelty

Clyde & Elena
Worse than last week, if that’s possible. Clyde’s sanitized Rumba was boring, unromantic, and an opponent’s end of the basketball court away from being seductive – and that’s being generous! I don’t know who Len was watching but it certainly wasn’t the same Clyde that walked danced across my television screen. I hardly know where to begin in my criticism of his performance. Let’s just say that Carrie Ann certainly proved the old adage that it’s cruel to be kind when she labeled Clyde "the worst dancer in the competition."

Although Clyde clearly doesn’t lack in self-confidence, it’s too bad his assuredness doesn’t extend to his moves on the dance floor. Clyde seems to dance smaller every week. His arm movements are hesitant and under-extended, his footwork is appalling, and his hip rolls are non-existent. There’s no more time left on the clock for this competitor. Clyde has become just too painful to watch! Let’s show Elena some compassion and free her from having to coach this goliath for another week.

Billy Ray Cyrus & Karina
Another dismal effort from the Country Kid. Billy Ray’s Rumba had nothing to do with love – a blatant dig at their song choice – and everything to do with "salt." According to Bruno, Karina was playing the "pillar of salt" role this week — as demonstrated by the lack of romantic interplay between Karina and Billy Ray throughout their entire dance.

Surprisingly,  none of the judges commented about Billy Ray’s mostly stationary position throughout much of the routine. He barely moved from the center of the dance floor, and his footwork couldn’t have been any simpler. Karina carried their whole performance. Unfortunately for Billy Ray, not only was his brain fried this week, thanks to his overloaded schedule (no sympathy from this quadrant), but so was his rendition of the Rumba. I, for one, would welcome having the lights permanently turned off on this duo.

Ox Notes: April 17, 2007

Dancing with the Stars News
People filed a report from behind the scenes at last night’s Performance Show. Most of the post-show chatter was about muscles, as Haley Cyrus praised her "ripped" dad, and John Ratzenberger bragged that his legs are "like oak trees."

Clyde thinks he’ll be the next to go home. Not only that, he wants to be next to go. With that attitude, I almost want him to stay, just so he can’t get back to his golf game so soon.

Our latest Performance Show recap includes videos of several of the dances.

TV Guide has an interview with Season 3 contestant Joey Lawrence, who discussed playing a killer on CSI: Miami. The episode is scheduled to air on April 25.

The Band Formerly Known As Rock Star Supernova (That Was Previously Known As Supernova)
After losing a court battle over the right to call themselves Supernova, and being forced to call themselves Rock Star Supernova, the band has decided to change their name — although they haven’t decided on a new name yet. Here are a couple of ideas: We Quit, or perhaps It Was Fun While It Lasted.

No New Bones This Week
Fox has decided to postpone airing a new episode of Bones on Wednesday in favor of a repeat, due to concerns of viewer sensitivity after the tragedy at Virginia Tech. The new episode focused on human remains uncovered on a college campus.