Monthly Archives: November 2007

Ox Notes: November 30, 2007

Julianne Hough is denying rumors of a romance with her Dancing with the Stars partner Helio Castroneves, telling People, "I love Helio like he is my brother." The two were spotted in New York, looking cozy together.

Julianne also just signed a deal with music label Univeral Music Group Nashville, as part of her budding country music career.

It’s no secret that celebrities appear on DwtS to land new jobs, and Jennie Garth is the latest to benefit from her increased visibility: she’s going to shill for Orville Redenbacher popcorn. I hope she won’t be forced to wear the creepy old man mask that the Faux-Orville has been sporting in recent commercials.

In other dance reality show news, Elizabeth Berkley’s role as a stripper in Showgirls gave her enough dance credibility to become the host of Bravo’s new show, Step It Up and Dance.

The latest couple eliminated from The Amazing Race, Jason & Lorena, offered future racers two keys to surviving the show’s grueling pace: yoga and reversible underpants.

NBC announced its revised schedule for winter, which includes nightly reality shows to ease the pressure of the writers strike. Reality Blurred has a complete schedule of reality shows debuting on the major networks and cable in the next few months.

Studios and writers continue to negotiate, but things aren’t going well. Worse, the strike could affect some networks’ holiday office party plans.

One person emerging from the gloom of the strike as a super guy is Conan O’Brien. Starting next week, O’Brien is going to use his own money to pay the salaries of the 80 people who work on his show, so they won’t be burdened during the holidays.

Survivor China: Episode 10

After urging his comrades to avoid temptation, James took a pie to the face.

When we last left Survivor, Jeff Probst told the gang that they weren’t through at Tribal Council, even though they’d just voted Frosti out of the game. The remaining competitors were going to participate in their Reward Challenge that night as well.

The challenge was a quiz about Chinese culture, and, not surprisingly, the Chinese-American member of the tribe won. Peih-Gee beat out her closest competitors, James and Todd, when she answered correctly that, in China, a red envelope usually contains money.

Peih-Gee won perhaps the coolest reward in Survivor history: an overnight stay at the Shaolin Monastery, birthplace of Kung Fu. She was able to bring two people with her, and she chose Denise and Erik.

As they toured the monastery with one of the monks, Denise revealed that she was working on her black belt in Karate. After watching some impressive martial arts demonstrations by the monks, the tour guide asked Denise to show off some of her own moves.

Denise obliged, and while she’s no Kwai Chang Caine, I’d advise the kids in the school cafeteria where she works not to criticize the Salisbury steak.

The well-rested, well-fed, and highly entertained trio returned to camp to find James, Courtney, Todd, and Amanda wet, miserable, and huddled in a cave.

They all dried out in time for the Immunity Challenge, in which the Survivors scored points by hitting targets with throwing stars. Erik, Courtney, Amanda, and James tied for first place and moved on to a sudden death round, from which Erik emerged victorious.

Erik’s victory put a target on Peih-Gee, as the only member of the original Zhan Hu tribe eligible to be voted out.

James used a biblical analogy to encourage the original Fei Long members to stick with their alliance: "The Lord said, ‘Don’t bite that apple.’ If Eve would’ve listened, they’d still be frolicking naked in heaven. I just want us to frolic naked as long as we can. So don’t be tempted by Peih-Gee and Erik. Don’t bite the apple."

However, Amanda had other ideas. She realized that, if they got rid of Peih-Gee as planned, James would be able to use his two Immunity Idols at the next two Tribal Councils and wind up in the Final Four. Riffing on James’ analogy, Amanda said, "I am not only ready to bite the apple, I am ready to make the whole frickin’ pie."

In separate conversations, Amanda pulled Courtney, Todd, and Denise aside and told them that they needed to get rid of James that night. If they were able to keep him convinced that they were voting for Peih-Gee, James wouldn’t use his one of his Immunity Idols, and he would be gone.

Meanwhile, Peih-Gee came to the same realization as Amanda. With only the fuzziest idea of a plan in mind, Peih-Gee asked Amanda if she knew about James’ Hidden Idols.

Amanda confirmed that she did, but she didn’t want to get too candid with Peih-Gee. Instead, she gave her a coded response: "You just have to trust me, and you just have to not say anything the rest of the day. It’ll be in your best interest if you don’t. Act like you’re going home and just keep it like that."

Peih-Gee consented to play along, and she told Erik that she suspected a plan to whack James was afoot. Erik didn’t want to be on the wrong side of the power players, so he decided to vote for James.

Just in case James did play an Immunity Idol, thereby voiding any of the votes cast for him, Peih-Gee decided to vote for Todd. Assuming that James was voting for her, she’d at least be assured of a tie with Todd, and might be able to avoid being kicked off.

At Tribal Council, it was apparent that the Fei Long members’ lying and Peih-Gee’s "woe is me" moping around camp had worked. James kept both of his Immunity Idols in his bag, and sat there contorting his face in agony as Jeff Probst revealed vote after vote that read "James." Jury members Jaime, Jean-Robert, and Frosti were in hysterics, knowing that James could easily have saved himself but didn’t.

James, for his part, was a good sport about his ouster: "You can’t be angry with anybody. This is a game. I rolled the dice too many times, and I just got caught up."

Next time, Amanda begins to conspire against Todd, and Denise finds herself in a position of power.

Ox Notes: November 29, 2007

In an interview with Extra, Maksim Chmerkovskiy made it sound as though he won’t be returning to Dancing with the Stars: "If this is the limit of where I can get in a show, then let it be. I’m satisfied and moving on."

Maks’ partner, Melanie Brown, posted behind-the-scenes photos from Tuesday night’s Results Show at the Spice Girls’ website. There’s also a contest to win the fake eyelashes she wore at the finale.

Mel also told People that she’s going to miss DwtS host Tom Bergeron: "He’s so hilarious. My favorite show is America’s Funniest Home Videos, and he gave me 12 DVDs and I’m addicted."

Mark Ballas may need surgery to repair the shoulder he dislocated during Tuesday night’s Dancing with the Stars Finale. While Mark was rushed to the hospital right after the injury occurred, producers told Sabrina Bryan she’d have to stay until the show was over.

Sabrina told People: "I know I had to be here, but I’m so worried about him. I’m so mad they wouldn’t let me leave."

Mark’s dad, Corky, who went with Mark to the hospital, told TV Guide, "When Sabrina got there, he felt much better."

Another DwtS casualty is Helio Castroneves’ relationship with his fiancee, Aliette Vazquez. The morning after he won the mirrorball trophy, he told People that the two of them are "no longer together."

The Dancing with the Stars 5 finale was watched by nearly 25 million people. While it was the second most-watched telecast of the season, the numbers are lower than previous DwtS finales, and it lost in key demos to House.

Finally, as if becoming prom queen at your own high school wasn’t difficult enough, ABC Family is working on America’s Prom Queen. Even more nerve wracking for the perky cheerleaders who will no doubt compete for the title is that they will be judged by "nerds" and "misfits." What. Ever.

Ox Notes: November 28, 2007

Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli told TV Guide that Maksim Chmerkovskiy underwent Dancing with the Stars 5’s biggest transformation, thanks to his partner, Melanie Brown. Tonioli said, "She changed him! Talk about girl power? That is girl power!" Tonioli added that, despite the upbeat air Maks was putting on for the press when talking about his second place finish, "He’s devastated."

In case any Maks fans need cheering up today, OK! Magazine’s website has a picture of Maks wearing only a towel.

A poll at wants to know if you think the right person won this season of Dancing with the Stars.

Now it’s time to get worked up about the casting for DwtS 6. Marie Osmond says that producers have talked to her brother, Donny, about competing on the show (Noooo!). And MOIB reader Amy noted in the Finale Results thread that Derek Hough told TMZ he may be paired with Florence Henderson. I’d love to see Derek make the finals, and that won’t happen if he’s paired with 73-year-old Mrs. Brady.

An article at Zap2It notes that, even if the writers strike ended today, most scripted shows wouldn’t go back into production until 2008. That’s good news for reality show production houses like Endemol, who stand to reap major rewards from a prolonged shutdown.

In other reality show news, Simon Cowell is looking to unite the winners of national versions of the Got Talent franchise for a World’s Got Talent competition.

Ahead of tonight’s episode of Project Runway, here’s a TV Guide interview with auf’d designer, Marion Lee.

This UPI article mentions what shows the 2008 presidential candidates watch, in between their seemingly daily debates on CNN. Barack Obama has the good taste to watch The Wire, the fourth season of which comes out on DVD December 4.

Finally, the Food Network has canceled the long-running Emeril Live, although the chef will stay on with the network for special programs. First they whack Mario Batali, and now Emeril. What gives?

DwtS Finale: Results

Helio Castroneves became the third consecutive male athlete to win Dancing with the Stars. Somewhere, Jerry Rice is demanding a recount of Season 2’s results.

After a recap of the Performance Show, special guest Celine Dion performed her hit from Titanic, "My Heart Will Go On." DwtS pros Mark & Cheryl, Alec & Edyta, and Karina & Tony danced a routine that included gorgeous spins and even a few "king of the world" moves (but, sadly, no "boat hitting an iceberg" moves).

Without dragging out the suspense too far into the show, the third place couple was then announced: Marie & Jonathan.

Marie said, "I’m so pleased to be here at my age."

This prompted Tom Bergeron to quip, "You’re in your seventies, right?" Marie laughed, the same way she does when she thinks about the working conditions of her doll-making sweatshop workers, and then she and Jonathan gave a farewell performance of their Tango.

The dramatic announcement was followed by a recap of the entire season. A nice change in the finale format was that all of the eliminated couples were brought back to dance an entire routine, instead of the 30-second snippets they’ve danced in the past. Josie Maran & Alec Mazo danced their Fox Trot, and Albert Reed & Anna Trebunskaya danced their Cha Cha Cha.

Wayne Newton & Cheryl Burke didn’t dance, because Wayne’s doctors wouldn’t allow it, due to his heart condition. Floyd Mayweather & Karina Smirnoff also chose not to dance, due to Floyd’s "grueling training camp" in preparation for an upcoming boxing match.

The still slim and trim Mark Cuban & Kym Johnson danced their Fox Trot.

Then Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas danced a Cha Cha Cha that wound up being the most impressive performance of the night. Not because of the dancing, but because Mark appeared to dislocate his shoulder early into the routine, but kept on dancing. He limited his arm movements as best he could and managed to make it through the whole routine without crying, passing out, or running offstage. The long standing ovation from the crowd must have been torture.

Jane Seymour & Tony Dovolani danced the Viennese Waltz, and Cameron Mathison & Edyta Sliwinska reprised their Superman Paso Doble. Fulfilling his promise to take off his shirt if he made it to the finale, Cameron took his shirt off and gave it to Samantha Harris.

In response, Drew Lachey and Bruno Tonioli — seated together to promote their show Dance War — threatened to drop their pants, but didn’t follow through, at least not on-camera. Mark Cuban was kind enough to let Cameron wear his tuxedo jacket for the remainder of the show.

Jennie Garth & Derek Hough closed out the nostalgia portion of the show by performing their Mambo.

The top two couples had one more performance each: a reprise of their own favorite routines. Mel & Maks were up first, and they danced their Mambo. The judges were thrilled, and Bruno told Mel, "Your determination, your professionalism, and your good humor is a credit to you. You’re a star."

Backstage waiting for their scores — all 10s, of course — Maks called Mel "Queen of the Floor."

Helio & Julianne did an encore performance of their The Mask-inspired Quickstep (That’s The Mask, as in the Jim Carrey movie, not the Eric Stoltz and Cher movie, Mask — though that might make for an interesting routine, too). and Julianne held Helio’s head in place for an extra long smooch at the end. The couple was honored with perfect scores as well.

After Tom made a sojourn into the audience to talk to tease Jennie about falling one last time, it was time to announce the winner.

Helio & Julianne won the trophy, thwarting hopes for a female winner for yet another season. In prior seasons, the winners have always been the couples with the best freestyle routines, and Helio & Julianne’s victory fit the pattern.

Thanks so much, everyone, for joining us this season!

Ox Notes: November 27, 2007

Although comment posters here at MOIB seem to appreciate the Dancing with the Stars judges actually judging again, Julianne Hough did not. She told TV Guide, "It sucked the energy out of [the room]."

In the same Backstage Report, Donny Osmond agreed with Julianne: "The judges put a dark cloud over this whole show. The dancers and the celebrities were all nervous. Come on, this is the finale. Give them some encouragement."

There’s plenty of injury talk in the Backstage Report as well, raising the question: Is the Dancing with the Stars season too long? I’d be okay if they cut the season from ten weeks to eight, or if they only went to two dances per week for the last two weeks of the show.

Former DwtS contestant Paulina Porizkova has replaced Twiggy as a judge for the next season of America’s Next Top Model.

Fans of So You Think You Can Dance will be delighted to learn that Cat Deeley will host Fox’s New Year’s Eve Live countdown.

You can tell that TV writers are on strike when CBS starts hyping a special featuring Ted Danson, Kelsey Grammer, and Sam Waterston skiing for charity.

Speaking of the strike, a survey by the Writers Guild of America found that the average reality TV writer loses out on nearly $40,000 of overtime pay each year. 86% of reality TV writers don’t have employer-provided health insurance, either.

As promised on the most recent episode of Project Runway, Victorya Hong’s dress will be sold at Steve & Barry’s as part of Sarah Jessica Parker’s Bitten clothing line.

And one week after appearing on The Bachelor’s "After the Final Rose" special as one of the show’s few success stories, Mary Delgado socked her fiance, Bachelor Number 6 Byron Velvick, in the mouth. There’s something very comforting about the headline "Bachelor Punched In Face."

DwtS 5 Finale: Performances

The judges finally remembered what their role on Dancing with the Stars is. Too bad this season’s finalists didn’t give them much to judge during the Freestyle Round.

Judges’ Choice Round

Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Cha Cha Cha
Mel took the floor in an outfit so skimpy, Edyta might’ve thought twice about wearing it. Okay, maybe not. But Mel looked fab, and, apart from a bizarre opening bit, their cute, fun Cha Cha set the tone for a potentially great Finale. Perhaps I was biased by my love of Rose Royce’s song "Car Wash."

Len said of the routine, "For me, one or two funny bits in it. But it was a great performance." Bruno told Mel, "Your visual impact…I tell you, stunning!" Carrie Ann said, "I thought it was really good. I was expecting just a hair more excitement."

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

Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts — Samba
Marie didn’t faint this time, but she still seemed winded, despite this Samba’s slow tempo and over-reliance on poses. She showed a flair for the shimmy, but there wasn’t much else to make the performance stand out.

Bruno told Marie, "You never fail to entertain. Technically, it wasn’t your best dance." Carrie Ann, "Your range of motion is a little bit more limited, and it kind of showed itself in this dance." Len said, "Technically, you’re not the best of our finalists. But for entertainment and fun, second to none."

Jonathan frowned and Marie uttered a disappointed, "Wow," when the judges revealed their scores.
Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…8 = 24/30

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough — Jive
Helio & Julianne dressed as bobby soxers, and the routine was very cute. Helio’s moves were pretty good. They just weren’t always in sync with Julianne’s.

When the audience finally quieted down, Carrie Ann told Helio, "It was completely exciting. But your flicks and kicks are still a bit awkward." Len, agreed: "You come out high octane…but unfortunately, so many technical problems with that. It was a disappointment." Bruno said, "The footwork wasn’t good enough, but the performance was great."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…8, Len…8, Bruno…9 = 25/30

Freestyle Round

Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy
After their terrific first round Cha Cha Cha, this was a real letdown. Mel & Maks made a bad song choice for their freestyle: Timbaland’s "The Way I Are." It’s a cool song, but the choreography needed to overcome the song’s dirge-like feel. On top of that, the two vocalists attempting to replicate the song’s double-tracked vocals were singing in different keys.

While the routine’s (too few) tricks were good, the rest of the performance lacked excitement. Maks would’ve been better suited working a few hip-hop moves into a Latin routine, and highlighting it with several stand-out lifts.

Carrie Ann said, "While I enjoyed the routine, I think you’re better than that, and I don’t think it showcased all that you did the past couple of months." Len agreed: "For me it was just slightly disjointed here and there. But great job." Bruno told Mel, "You put in something we don’t usually see. You tried, and I think you did a good job."

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

Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts
Marie sells dolls on QVC, and as a nod to her doll-buying minions, she went all Pinocchio, while dancing to The Rolling Stones’ "Start Me Up." Jonathan used an over-sized key to wind up Marie, The Living Doll. The effect was creepy, and the gimmick enabled her to get away with doing very little dancing.

Len said the routine might’ve seemed like a good idea in rehearsal, but on the dance floor it "didn’t happen." Bruno, "This is the loopiest thing I’ve ever seen. It defies criticism. It’s not a dance." Carrie Ann tried to keep it positive: "You are a risk taker. However, I’m gonna agree with the guys. Sometimes…we just make some odd choices."

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

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough
We might need a ban on televised performances to the song "Land of 1000 Dances." The choreography is limited by a literal interpretation of the song’s lyrics, which is fine for weddings and junior high swing choirs. But unless your goal is to become Master Of The Alligator or Mashed Potato World Champion (or you’re doing an homage to the ending credits of the John Candy/Dan Aykroyd film, The Great Outdoors), you probably should pick a different song.

Julianne nailed the one thing that sells any freestyle: lifts. She and Helio had the most exciting tricks — the most lifts of the night, period — so I forgave their excess of synchronized hand clapping. Tom Bergeron said Helio’s gold jumpsuit made him look like a "Brazilian Power Ranger."

Bruno called Helio, "Mr. Irresistible." Carrie Ann told him, "You’ve got technique and the entertainment factor. But you were a little rough coming out of those lifts." Len said, "Best freestyle of the night, by miles."

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

55 — Mel & Maks
54 — Helio & Julianne
46 — Marie & Jonathan

This week, fans got five votes per phone line or email address. I gave two votes to Mel & Maks for winning the Judges’ Choice Round, and two to Helio & Julianne for winning the Freestyle Round. And my final vote went to Mel & Maks for being the best of the finalists over the course of the season.