Monthly Archives: November 2007

DwtS 5, Week 9: Results

At the beginning of Dancing with the Stars‘ fifth season, I never would’ve pegged Marie Osmond as a finalist.

The DwtS Results Show began with a recap of the Semifinal performances. Florence Henderson was sitting in the studio audience again, so I’m guessing we’ll see Mrs. Brady dance next season.

The judges gave their encore to Jennie & Derek for what Len Goodman called their "breakthrough" Cha Cha Cha. This time, I think Jennie & Derek might’ve even added a few extra spins at the end of the routine.

The encore was followed by the first performance of the night by musical guest Avril Lavigne. She sang her new song, "Hot," and while the number didn’t feature any dancers, Avril did have a star in her backing band: Jim, the rhythm guitarist from the Rock Star House Band. His wicked, high-pitched backing vocals in this rendition of Heart’s "Alone" was one of my favorite moments from that series.

After the performance, Samantha Harris (TV’s best reason to give the striking writers anything they want, so long as we don’t have to hear Samantha ad lib anymore) asked all of the stars how they would feel to be eliminated one week before the finals. Marie said, "You’ll have to drag me out of here," and Helio agreed: "It would be devastating."

Video of last night’s studio audience, which included some of the cast from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, was next. One of the Makeover artists liked Jennie, while another preferred Helio.

Then it was time to announce the first couple moving on to the finale: Marie & Jonathan. Marie told Samantha, "We have the best fans in the world."

The evening’s high point was another feature by Kenny Mayne, this time on what happens when the stars become addicted to dancing. In the comedic segment, Lisa Rinna, Harry Hamlin, Laila Ali, and Tucker Carlson participated in a group therapy session at "Happy Thoughts Dance Rehab." Laila and Tucker sported some oddly placed sequins, while Lisa wore garish blue eyeshadow.

Harry stole the bit with a Gary Busey-inspired performance, but Tucker had a good line: "You could cut me into pieces, and each piece would still have dance within it." Lisa was also funny, begging the therapist: "I want to stop this tanning addiction. It’s staining my hands. I’m afraid it’s toxic."

As if things couldn’t get any better, it was time for Irish dancing legend, Michael Flatley. He lead a troop of male dancers who were all dressed as pilots. Flatley did some of his signature inhumanly fast footwork, and the studio audience went berserk.

Another pretaped segment featured members of the media who cover DwtS. Mark McGrath of Extra said, "Tom Bergeron might be the greatest live host of all time." Dayna Devon explained why Extra repeatedly aired footage of Marie fainting: "It was good television, unfortunately."

That segment was followed by the most anticipated performance of the evening. Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas returned to promote the DwtS tour, and they danced a Rumba, as Avril Lavigne sang her hit "Complicated." The routine was passionate and featured tons of great lifts and tricks. Had they the opportunity to perform this dance as a Freestyle in the finale, the mirrorball trophy might’ve been theirs.

A final prerecorded segment asked the stars what special trait they brought to the competition. Jennie said, "Realness." Marie: "Wisdom." Mel: "Fun." Helio: "Energy."

Mel & Maks were then announced as the next couple moving on to the finals, leaving Jennie & Derek and Helio & Julianne waiting to learn their fates. Tom asked Len which couple should move on, and Len replied, "Neither of these should be leaving tonight. However, if I’ve gotta pick one, for their more consistent performance, I’d have to say Julianne & Helio should be there next week."

Jennie & Derek looked prepared for bad news, and Tom gave it to them. Helio was moving on, and Jennie was eliminated.

Jennie said, "I had such a great time." And Derek added, "I would not have wanted this experience with anybody else." They danced off into the sunset to the refrain of Jon Bon Jovi’s "Blaze of Glory."

For Monday’s final Performance Show, the judges choose one dance style for each couple, and then the couples design their own Freestyle routine. Mercifully, the show is only an hour long, ahead of the gargantuan two-hour final Results Show.

Even if I didn’t have the foresight to predict that Marie would make it to the finals, at least I was right about her beating Jennie. You can revisit my well-reasoned — and completely inaccurate — preseason predictions here.

Ox Notes: November 20, 2007

In her latest blog post, Jennie Garth is psyched about her high scoring performances in the Dancing with the Stars semifinals. About her Tango, Jennie says, "I felt crisp and sharp and clean, and I enjoyed it." And after earning a perfect score for her Cha Cha Cha, she says, "I feel like I’m a Latin dancer!"

Former 90210-er Shannen Doherty explained to People why Jennie gets nervous during the performance shows: "We’re TV actors. We’re not used to performing live. We do takes and we get to mess up and we know that we’re going to have another take where we get to be perfect."

According to TV Guide’s Backstage Report, Celine Dion is eager to be a contestant on DwtS, if her busy performing schedule can accommodate it. Please, crazy Celine Dion, find a way!

MTV is bringing another dance competition show to the air. Tentatively titled — with good reason — Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew, the show sounds like a cross between Dance War and So You Think You Can Dance.

The Apprentice and its quasi-celebrity cast will hit the airwaves on Thursday, January 3 at 9 ET, although their stay in that slot might be temporary should the strike end and production on The Office resume.

Reality Blurred reports that the cast for The Apprentice was actually announced last month in a press conference, but news outlets kept the list secret at NBC’s request, even though contestants had already been seen in public participating in tasks for the show. So much for independent media.

In a TV Guide interview, Reaper’s Tyler Labine says this of his devilish costar, Ray Wise: "He is probably the coolest man alive. He’s got this big Cheshire Cat grin and he stands around chewing his gum with his crazy white teeth and his L.A. tan."

TV Guide also interviewed the latest Survivor eliminated, Frosti, who says a romance with Courtney was never on his mind: "You’re in the jungle, starving, dirty, surrounded by crazy people who dig graves [James] and serve lunch [Denise]."

DwtS 5, Week 9: Performances

On this week’s Dancing with the Stars Performance Show, the judges awarded perfect scores to five of the eight dances, and even the worst performance got a 27. As host Tom Bergeron said in the closing minutes, "Just a quick shout out to paddles one through eight: no camera time. Sorry about that."

Ballroom Round

Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts — Quickstep
In her rehearsal footage, Marie joked, "I think what I have that the other three competitors don’t have is age."

Marie and Jonathan danced to "Good Morning," from Singing in the Rain. Marie smiled throughout the performance, even taking some time to point playfully at the judges. It was one of Marie’s best performances to date, coming when she most needed it.

Len told her, "You bring so much joy and entertainment to this show. You are the most entertaining of all the celebrities. I thought that was perfect." Bruno felt the dance had "plenty of content." And Carrie Ann said, "That was wonderful. It was a completely different approach."

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

When Bruno announced his score, Marie said, "All the boos are coming from my brothers."

Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Viennese Waltz
Mel and Maks danced to Queen’s "Somebody to love." It was a great song choice, and Maks occasionally mouthed the words as he danced. It was a beautiful dance that showed off Mel at her best. The performance managed to be cute, romantic, dynamic, and athletic — what with Mel’s cool splits near the end.

Bruno called it "fast, precise, and sexy. I’ve never seen a sexy Viennese Waltz before." Carrie Ann said, "I know I’ve been tough to win over, but you just keep surprising me." Len liked the routine’s "clever choreography. I love Queen, and you’re gonna be Queen B from now on!"

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

Jennie Garth & Derek Hough — Tango
Jennie said she’s been torn between the show and spending time with her kids. So she took the kids to Disneyland and danced with Mickey in front of Cinderella Castle.

Derek choreographed a dense dance, with a lot of content and plenty of moves to remember. It was hard to tell if Jennie’s serious face was her Tango look or her concentration look. She gave a solid performance with what seemed a tough dance.

Carrie Ann had mixed feelings: "You were so focused and so powerful. I didn’t really feel the chemistry." Len disagreed, saying, "It had passion and it had energy." Bruno was impressed by the "very, very intricate choreography."

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

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough — Fox Trot
Wearing a forest green tux, Helio danced a Fox Trot to "Ain’t That a Kick in the Head." It’s always a pleasant surprise when the music choices make sense for the dance, and this was a great song for a very good, very enjoyable performance. Except for one little stutter-step in the middle, Helio nailed it — even with Julianne’s sleeve hitting him in the face once or twice.

Len the Inscrutable said, "Last week you were the banana, this week you’re the gherkin. It was beautiful." Bruno threatened that "if you don’t make the final, I’m going to eat my boot." Carrie Ann congratulated Julianne, telling her, "You did such a great job with his technique."

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

Before the next round of dances, we were treated to some footage from "Len’s Masterclass" with each of the couples. He arrived at the rehearsal studio in the official Dancing with the Stars helicopter:

With Marie, Len worked on hip action. With Helio, his feet. With Jennie, her arms. And with Mel, Len worked on her sharpness. Len briefly scared Mel when he commanded her to "Look into my eyes!"

Latin Round

Marie Osmond & Jonathan Roberts — Mambo
This dance wasn’t as good as their first of the night. It was more camp than content, which is often a sign that the choreographer is trying to cover up his partner’s deficiencies. With Marie, it’s sometimes hard to tell, though, since she treads the line between competent and campy so easily. At the end of the performance, Marie vaulted into brothers’ arms.

Bruno called it a "Madcap Mambo. You lost your foot about five times, though." Carrie Ann said, "I was waiting for the confetti cannons and the pyro." Len told Marie, "Your hips were working. Hook you up to the national grid and you could light up Hollywood."

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

Melanie Brown & Maksim Chmerkovskiy — Paso Doble
For her Paso, Mel sported a dark red catsuit with a half-skirt on the back. Oh, and she was also brandishing a whip for the first several seconds of the dance. Dancing to the Rolling Stones’ classic bullfighting anthem, "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction," Mel performed a pretty fierce Paso.

Carrie Ann asked herself, "How do you top perfection? Well, you just did!" Len sang, "You can whip me if I misbehave." And Bruno proclaimed, "Mel B: Satisfaction guaranteed!"

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

Jennie Garth & Derek Hough — Cha Cha Cha
Jennie wore a cute, short dress, as she and Derek danced to "Mustang Sally." It looked to me like she was still making some of the minor mistakes with her arms that Len had warned her about in his Masterclass. But other than that, she did a great job. She had more of a connection with Derek. There were some nice spins and back bend at the end. And, best of all, she looked relaxed and confident for the first time in weeks.

Len told Jennie, "What I thought was great was to see how you’ve developed as a dancer." Bruno said, "You’ve done it. You’ve got the star power!" And Carrie Ann thought "it finally all came together. That was fantastic!"

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

Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough — Cha Cha Cha
Dressed all in red, Helio and Julianne danced to "Love Rollercoaster." Their mimickry of a rollercoaster at the beginning of the performance was a a little hokey; luckily, they’re cute enough to get away with cheesy stuff like that. It was a good performance, but in the middle section of the routine, it looked to me like Julianne was doing most of the dancing.

Bruno said, "That was eye-popping vibrance, full of razzmatazz" Carrie Ann praised both dancers: "You are a star. And Julianne…you are fantastic out there." And Len made some inept analogies about the Super Bowl before saying, "The standard has been fantastic. You are the standout couple for me tonight."

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


Leaderboard:

60 — Helio & Julianne and Mel & Maks
58 — Jennie & Derek
56 — Marie & Jonathan

My votes went to Mel and Jennie tonight. Marie is undoubtedly a good dancer, but she’s just not up to the same speed as the other celebrities. Helio’s dancing is good enough to qualify him for the finals, but Julianne has dominated most of their rehearsal and interview segments (and sometimes their dances, too). Though he seems really nice and likable, I don’t feel as though I know Helio as well as I know Mel, Jennie, or Marie, so I’m not as invested in seeing him win.

Ox Notes: November 19, 2007

In preparation for tonight’s Dancing with the Stars 5 semifinals, the couples have had to work around the stars’ hectic schedules. Maksim Chmerkovskiy joked about his partner, Melanie Brown: "She’s generously given me 45 minutes to come up with (this week’s) choreography."

Tomorrow night, Sabrina Bryan & Mark Ballas return to DwtS to dance, as Avril Lavigne performs her hit "Complicated" at the Results Show.

Ox reader Miriam commented last week that it looked as if Larry King blindsided Marie Osmond with a question about her son entering rehab during a recent interview. People confirms that Larry was miffed with Marie for agreeing to host the Osmond reunion show on Oprah instead of Larry King Live, and he spilled the family secret out of revenge.

Ahead of tonight’s new episode of Heroes, TV Guide published a funny interview with Kristen Bell and Hayden Panettiere. I only wish it had been caught on video.

The official cast list for Donald Trump’s celebrity edition of The Apprentice has been released. The remarkably lame cast is composed primarily of veterans of other celebrity reality TV shows (Stephen Baldwin, Gene Simmons) and people who became famous by appearing on a reality show (Omarosa, Piers Morgan). Donald, when the celebrities on your show include the life coach from The Swan, it’s time to jump ship.

Producers and writers intend to resume negotiations on November 26. The WGA strike has inspired Italian writers to consider their own strike. Meanwhile, a strike by transportation workers is taking a toll on the French entertainment industry.

With work on Saturday Night Live at a halt, NBC fired approximately 50 of SNL’s supporting staff members on Friday. Saturday night, as a rerun of SNL aired on NBC, the cast of the show put on a live performance hosted by Michael Cera as a fundraiser for the fired staff members. Photos of the performance at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City are available in the New York Times’ review.

TAR 12: Episode 3

Marianna & Julia found out the hard way that, on The Amazing Race, a good deed never goes unpunished.

Teams flew from The Netherlands to Burkina Faso, specifically the hard-to-pronounce city of Ouagadougou. As teams rode in cabs from the Ouagadougou airport to the local train station, blondes Shana & Jennifer speculated that they were really being taken "to be sold to people…for money."

Teams spent the night at the train station, and Julia & Marianna danced to the music of some local musicians. 68-year-old Don watched approvingly, saying of the sisters, "They’re feisty. They’re hot. A little bitchy, but not bad. A guy could learn to live with it."

In the morning, all the teams caught the same train to Bingo, located somewhere in the middle of nowhere. There, they faced a Roadblock in which one team member had to get a bowlful of milk from a camel, and then drink the milk.

The instructions warned: Be mindful that camels are sensitive to fast movements and loud noises. That didn’t stop Lorena from crying and screaming to Jason, "Baby, there’s no more MILK!" when her camel wasn’t productive enough.

Other contestants fared better, and TK was first to finish milking his camel. He gagged as he drank the milk, saying, "It was a little grainy, and a little sweet and warm." He and partner Rachel received a clue telling them to lead four camels across the savannah to a group of Tuareg nomads.

TK & Rachel were followed closely by Nick & Don, Ronald & Christina, Kynt & Vyxsin, and Jennifer & Nathan.

At that point, the remaining Roadblock teams’ camels were running dry. Azaria spoke up and requested a new camel, and he and Hendekea were able to catch up to the lead pack.

When the teams turned in their four camels, they got a clue that directed them to a nearby school. There, they had a choice of Detour tasks: Learn It or Teach It. In Learn It, they had to memorize ten words in the local language, More. In Teach It, teams had to teach a young student ten words in English.

To many teams, Teach It seemed the easier task. However, many of the multisyllabic words on the list — skyscraper, television, cowboy, and helicopter — were not only hard to pronounce, but also objects not commonly seen on the Burkina Faso savanna.

Azaria & Hendekea, on the other hand, figured out the easiest way to finish Learn It. They each learned five of the words, lightening the workload while ensuring greater accuracy. Despite arriving at the task in sixth place, the brother and sister team was the first team to finish.

They ran through a spooky savanna rainstorm to the Pit Stop on the outskirts of a tribal village. There, Phil informed the siblings that they’d won another romantic vacation for two, this time to Bermuda.

The next five teams finished at approximately the same time, and they all arrived at the Pit Stop within minutes of each other. Ronald & Christina’s speed was limited somewhat because of a Ronald had suffered a hernia at the end of the previous leg of the race.

Back at the camel-milking Roadblock, all of the remaining milkers had switched to more productive camels. Shana & Jennifer were the next pair finished, and they reached the Pit Stop in seventh place.

Julia was next to finish milking her camel, leaving Lorena in last place. Lorena’s camel kicked the bowl full of milk, spilling the contents for the umpteenth time, and Lorena fell to her knees and cried.

As Marianna & Julia led their camels toward the school, Julia advised Lorena to find a camel with a baby next to it, as that one would certainly have milk.

Julia’s suggestion was correct, and Lorena soon finished the task. After Lorena sobbed briefly in Jason’s arms, the pair grabbed their camels and ran toward the school. Marianna and Julia were adhering to the suggestion in the Roadblock clue that camels were "sensitive to fast movement." As they walked their charges to the Detour, Jason & Lorena soon caught up.

At the school, both teams chose Learn It, but Lorena & Jason finished first. Marianna & Julia arrived at the Pit Stop in last place, where they were eliminated.

Next time, the teams dance in front of the African versions of Carrie Ann, Len, and Bruno, and Shana & Jennifer do something that ticks off Lorena & Jason.

Ox Notes: November 16, 2007

Marie Osmond wrote at her blog that her partner, Jonathan Roberts, had a root canal hours before Monday night’s Dancing with the Stars Performance Show.

In other DwtS health news, Wayne Newton told People that he won’t be dancing at the DwtS Finale due to a heart condition.

More news from Monday night’s Performance Show: Julianne Hough was wearing a diamond ring given to her by Entourage’s Kevin Connolly, although Julianne still insists that they’re "just friends." Assuming that’s true, I am establishing the Friends of Kevin Connolly organization for anyone else interested in scoring some nice jewelry.

TV Guide has an interview with Kate & Pat, the clergy couple recently eliminated from The Amazing Race. Kate’s least favorite moment on the race was falling into the water during the ditch vault: "I’m not sure there wasn’t poo in there."

CMT is looking for aspiring singers to appear on their new show, Can You Duet? Greg and I do a killer rendition of "You Don’t Bring Me Flowers," only I sing as Neil Diamond and Greg does his best Barbra Streisand impression.

With no scripts left to shoot, NBC has suspended contracts for actors on several series, including The Office and Bionic Woman. The other networks plan to decide what to do with their actors in the coming days.

Writer-producer Carlton Cuse crossed picket lines to resume his production duties on Lost, wrapping up the eight episodes that have already been shot.

Representatives for several late night talk shows are supposedly having secret discussions about returning to work. One rep told Variety, "Nobody wants to be the first to go back."

Finally, there are fears in Hollywood that awards shows like the Emmys and Oscars will have to make major adjustments without any writers to script awkward banter for the award presenters. Would that really be such a bad thing?

Survivor China: Episode 9

Peih-Gee’s elimination from Survivor China looked like a done deal, until she was saved by bovine intervention.

Feeling giddy after Jean-Robert was voted out, instead of her, Peih-Gee couldn’t keep her mouth in check at camp. Her micromanaging and chatter made Todd feel as though he’d merely exchanged one annoying player for another.

Then the Reward Challenge brought out the worst in Peih-Gee. Teams of four had to navigate an obstacle course, with each team member carrying a traditional Chinese drum. Teams had to use the drum heads to keep a ball bouncing at all times as they traversed the course — essentially playing hacky-sack with the drums.

If the ball hit the ground at any time, the team had to start over from the beginning. The first team to complete the course three times won a reward.

Peih-Gee’s team of James, Todd, and Denise could not master the ball-bouncing technique, holding their drums at angles which made the ball bounce out of reach. Peih-Gee, the only player on her team with any finesse, was wielding the smallest drum, giving her a much smaller margin for error. But the team never changed their strategy, and they bungled along, as the other team bounced to an easy victory.

When they returned to camp, Peih-Gee unloaded on James for what she considered his lack of hustle. "My ass wasn’t strollin’ back to the mat every time," said Peih-Gee. "I raced back to that damn mat."

She lost all connection with reality when she told James, "I can’t believe you ever accused me of giving up at challenges." She’s the one who, with the aid of Jaime, threw a challenge during Week 5 in order to get rid of Aaron — a fact to which Jaime had admitted at the subsequent Tribal Council.

James reclined in the shelter during Peih-Gee’s tirade, trying to convince her to shut up and go away: "Please stop messin’ with me, because any time you bring stuff up, I will quickly blast you back and make you look quite silly."

Meanwhile, Amanda, Courtney, Frosti, and Erik were enjoying their Reward: a river cruise and all the fried chicken they could eat. Frosti and Courtney flirted as Erik showed off his surprisingly realistic impression of a goat bleating.

When the well-fed foursome returned to camp, Todd filled them in on Peih-Gee’s meltdown. There was no doubt that she had to go next.

At the Immunity Challenge, Jeff Probst presented the Survivors with another chance to eat. Contestants who felt confident that they didn’t need Immunity to survive Tribal Council could gorge themselves on cheeseburgers and fries instead of participating in the challenge.

Those who wanted to compete for Immunity would play a memory game, in which Jeff called out a series of Chinese zodiac symbols. Contestants, standing at individual puzzle boards, used a knife to stab the corresponding painted tiles in the correct order.

The contestants who chose to eat could only do so as long as the challenge lasted.

When asked to reveal their choice, only Peih-Gee, Frosti, Erik, and Amanda were concerned enough to compete for Immunity. The rest tore into the food like a pack of hyenas. (Courtney, probably the skinniest Survivor contestant ever, feasted for the second time this episode. She has a serious metabolism.)

Erik screwed up on the very first sequence of symbols, giving him plenty of time to stand by and watch James, Todd, Denise, and Courtney chow down. Amanda lasted one more round before joining Erik on the "hungry loser" mat.

The final round was between Peih-Gee and Frosti, both of whom were twitchy, thanks to the pressure of the situation and the smell of delicious cheeseburgers. Peih-Gee got the sequence of tiles correct, but Frosti chose Rabbit when he should’ve chosen Rat. Thus, Peih-Gee foiled everyone’s game plan for this week’s elimination.

Jeff Probst told the Survivors who’d decided to eat to back away from the table. By the time the challenge ended, Todd, Courtney, and Denise had eaten a total of four cheeseburgers between them. James had eaten seven.

Back at camp, the former members of Fei Long debated what to do, now that Peih-Gee had been saved by the beef. The castaways discussed whether to vote for Erik or for Frosti. Both of the guys were well liked, but Frosti’s string of strong challenge performances made him the bigger threat.

James and Denise were worried that Courtney’s loyalties had shifted, and that they might not be able to rely on her vote. "She’s lovin’ the hell outta some Frosti," James told Todd.

Todd told Courtney about James’ and Denise’s concerns, and he asked her if she’d be able to vote against her "Survivor boyfriend," Frosti. She was noncommittal, but seemed to realize that the decision was as much a test of her loyalty as it was the elimination of a threat.

At Tribal Council, the decision was unanimous (except for Frosti, who’d voted for Erik). When Jeff Probst snuffed Frosti’s torch and said his traditional, "The tribe has spoken," Frosti replied, "With cheeseburgers still on their breath!"

In his exit interview, a disappointed Frosti said, "I got beat by the tiny flight attendant, the sassy New York waitress, and the lady with the mullet."

As Frosti walked alone into the night, Jeff said to the remaining Survivors, "Now, more than ever, the ability to adapt, moment to moment, is what’s going to keep you in this game. We’re gonna test that right now."

The Survivors and jury members looked about in confusion as Jeff continued, "Tonight, you will not be heading directly back to camp. We have more business to attend to here." Then, the credits rolled, forcing viewers to wait another week to learn about the twist that was teased at the end of last week’s show.

Next time, the contestants show off their gross scabs, and, from the looks of things, James and Todd get to shave. (Update: Looks like it’s a Thanksgiving recap episode, and the footage is from earlier in the season. So, if you skip next week’s episode, you won’t miss much, besides a handful of scenes that didn’t make the original cut. The next all-new episode is November 29.)

Ox Notes: November 15, 2007

Marie Osmond’s 16-year-old son entered rehab last week. So Marie’s going through a divorce, she fainted on live television, her dad died, and now she has a teenage son in rehab. Isn’t it about time to stop voting to keep her on Dancing with the Stars so she can spend some time with her family?

TV Guide has an interview with Survivor’s Jean-Robert, who blindly defends his terrible game strategy. Survivor host Jeff Probst will spin the wheel for charity on tonight’s episode of Wheel of Fortune.

TLC is giving Trading Spaces a makeover courtesy of the producers behind Hell’s Kitchen. Part of that makeover is bringing Paige Davis back as host.

In other home makeover news, the casting director of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition says the show tries to cast families who can afford to keep their home once the show is over, rather than saddling a poor family with a mountain of debt.

Networks have been working to trim their budgets in case revenues decline due to a prolonged writers strike. Fortunately, they’re starting with cutting back on travel expenses and business lunches rather than laying off employees.

Part of the reason for the strike, one writer explains, is that the sale of a $19.99 DVD only earns the writer $.04.

For an inside view of the strike from a writer’s point of view, check out this blog by one of the writers of the series Moonlight (who also happens to be Greg’s friend, Kira). It sounds like food deliveries really are crucial to keeping the strikers’ spirits up, and they give fans a rare opportunity to interact with the people behind their favorite shows. This might be a good time to take a trip to L.A.

Ox Notes: November 14, 2007

Writers Strike news leads off this edition of Ox Notes, thanks to a memorable quote from Seth MacFarlane. In response to Fox’s plan to air a new episode of Family Guy that was completed without his input, MacFarlane told Variety, "It would just be a colossal dick move if they did that."

Ellen DeGeneres canceled plans to film episodes of her talk show in New York next week, after striking writers vowed to disrupt filming.

And at a rally in L.A., Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Jeff Garlin distributed porn DVDs to boost the morale of those on strike.

TV Guide updates its Strike Chart daily, and it looks as if The Office will be the first scripted show to bow out with only one new episode left to air. A number of other shows have four or fewer episodes to go.

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune’s The Watcher blog talked with some Chicago writers, including ex-Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, about striking without benefit of a picket line. The post addresses the myth of the wealthy Hollywood scribe and explains one of the WGA’s primary beefs: the writers’ need to be compensated for DVD and online episode sales.

One of the reasons Dancing with the Stars has been mostly unaffected by the strike is that they only have one writer. His job was to write Tom Bergeron’s intro material and descriptions of upcoming shows, a job now shared by Tom and the producers.

Jennie Garth & Derek Hough have already decided what they’ll dance for next week’s semi-finals: Tango and Rumba. And Mark Ballas’ dad, Corky, told TV Guide that his son’s DwtS tour preview dance with Sabrina Bryan at next week’s Results Show will be "a medley — a little bit of this, a little bit of that. And it’s going to be really edgy, because now, there are no rules."

There’s no end to the DwtS-related health scares. The day after he was eliminated from the show, Wayne Newton was diagnosed with pneumonia.

TV Guide has a preview of the new season of Project Runway, which begins tonight at 10 ET on Bravo.

Bravo is just one of the networks trotting out holiday specials this year. Contestants from past seasons of Top Chef — including Tre, reportedly — will compete in a charity cook-off.

Also in time for the holidays, if not actually Christmas-themed, ABC will debut a revamped version of the French game show, Duel. And NBC will premiere Clash of the Choirs, in which singers of varying fame and talent assemble choirs in their hometowns, and then bring them to New York to compete for charity. The celebrity choir directors are Patti LaBelle, Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland, Michael Bolton and Blake Shelton. Oh, Patti, how did you get drawn into this?

DwtS 5, Week 8: Results

This week, the Dancing with the Stars fans hit Superman with a dose of Kryptonite.

The Results Show began with its usual recap of the Performance Show, including interview footage of Helio surprising Julianne with a second kiss on the lips, which sent her into a fit of laughter. During the encore performance of their Quickstep, Helio skipped the kiss and dropped Julianne straight to the floor.

After missing her initial Results Show appearance, several weeks back, Gloria Estefan stopped by to perform one of her new songs, accompanied by her own backup dancers.

Then it was time for last night’s audience to give their opinions. Bruce Jenner felt that the judges had been a little hard on Jennie. Another man said, "Oh God, Helio got to kiss Julianne at the end. I wish it was me!" I’m not quite sure if he wanted to kiss Helio or Julianne.

The announcement of the evening’s first safe couple provided the night’s only real surprise. Despite landing at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard, Marie & Jonathan were safe.

Jimmy Kimmel’s weekly attempt at humor explored how Tom tells the two shows he hosts — DwtS and America’s Funniest Videos — apart. There wasn’t much of a resolution, but the bit did allow the show to work in footage of a kid hitting a couple guys (one of whom was Helio) in the crotch with a bat.

Hip-Hop choreographer Fatima Robinson made her first televised performance in six years for a Macy’s Stars of Dance routine. It was a slow number that Marie & Jonathan should consider copying for the Freestyle round if they make it to the Finale.

An interesting pre-taped segment highlighted the career paths of the pros, with plenty of cute pics of the pros as kids. Len had seen Julianne dance when she was 8, and he said that even then "you knew this is someone special."

Following that, Gloria Estefan returned to sing her hit, "Conga," accompanied by DwtS pros Maks, Julianne, Mark, and Kym. Kym’s new short hairdo looked really cute.

A second, less interesting pre-taped segment featured self-help celebrities Anthony Robbins and Dr. Michael Beckwith discussing the stars’ chances for victory.

As Tom and Samantha prepared to announce the next safe couple, Tom asked rhetorically if Bruno’s comment that Jennie’s dancing was limp had "stiffened the voters resolve." He then reminded everyone that the writers were obviously on strike.

Helio & Julianne were announced as safe, followed by Mel & Maks. That left Jennie & Derek and Cameron & Edyta in the Bottom Two.

Cameron & Edyta were eliminated, and they danced their final dance to the sappy Air Supply hit, "All Out of Love."

Next week, the couples choreograph new routines in their favorite Ballroom and Latin dance styles, and Michael "Lord of the Dance" Flatley performs at the Results Show.