Monthly Archives: November 2007

Ox Notes: November 26, 2007

An article at People.com elaborated on how the winner of Dancing with the Stars 5 will be determined. The final three couples will dance two routines — freestyle and judges’ choice — at tonight’s Performance Show, and fans will vote. At the Results Show Tuesday night, one couple will be eliminated, and the top two couples will perform a routine of their choice. That routine will be scored by the judges, and the judges’ scores will be combined with the fans’ votes to determine the winner.

In the same article, Cheryl Burke says she thinks Melanie Brown should win: "When she and Maks dance they have such incredible chemistry. It’s hot and steamy and that’s what ballroom is all about."

Another dancer who agrees with Cheryl is Maksim Chmerkovskiy, naturally. He discussed his competitors in an interview with Extra, and said that he doesn’t think Marie Osmond deserves to be in the finale: "I think Jennie was better than Marie. Frankly, I think there are a lot of other people better than Marie."

Maks elaborated: "I know first hand that there are a lot of other celebrities on the show who went through somewhat similar situations this season and they decided not to make it public… we decided not to burden people with our personal issues."

One of Melanie Brown’s issues has been juggling rehearsals for the Spice Girls tour with rehearsals for DwtS, and some of the other Spice Girls are reportedly worried that Mel will be low on energy when the tour starts. The Girls might get more done during rehearsals without interruptions by Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes.

Marie Osmond’s blog has photos from last weeks’ shows. Jonathan Roberts had to practice their Mambo wearing Cameron Mathison’s Superman shirt because his own shirt with tear-away sleeves wasn’t ready until just before showtime.

Dancing with the Stars is the most-watched English-language program in Hispanic households, although its numbers pale against those of the top ten Spanish-language programs. My personal most-watched Spanish-language program is Sabado Gigante, of course.

And the end of one season of DwtS means the beginning of speculation on the next season’s participants. One of the first names being thrown out for DwtS 6? Ice Skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

TAR 12: Episode 4

The two-person teams of The Amazing Race expanded to teams of three this week: two humans and one chicken.

Teams acquired the chicken from a local tribal chief at the start of the leg. Their first clue warned them to keep their new companion until they reached the Pit Stop: "No chicken, no check in." Teams toted their surprisingly docile cluckers around in a mesh market bag.

The trios traveled approximately 100 miles by taxi to the town of Bouda Pelegtanga to find their next clue. But first Hendekea needed to make use of a public restroom. Because girls never go to the bathroom by themselves, she brought the chicken in with her.

The clue was a Detour: Shake Your Pan or Shake Your Booty. In Shake Your Pan, teams had to scoop up some mud and sift out one ounce of gold to receive their clue. It was dirty, physical work, but it had a objectively measurable goal.

In Shake Your Booty, teams had to perform a traditional dance and add their own creative moves to it in order to get a passing grade from three local judges. If the judges didn’t like their interpretation, the team had to wait ten minutes before receiving their clue.

Jennifer & Nate reached Shake Your Booty first, and TK & Rachel and Azaria & Hendekea arrived in time to watch their performance. Africa’s answer to Simon Cowell told Jennifer & Nate, "No creativity," and sent them to wait out their penalty.

After receiving some instructions from a costumed dancer, TK & Rachel decided they’d have better luck mining for gold. Azaria & Hendekea then went ahead with their performance and got a passing grade. They received their clue when Jennifer & Nate still had 4:47 minutes left to wait.

Even had TK & Rachel tried to dance and failed, they would’ve only been five minutes behind the lead team. Instead, they wandered around trying to find the location for Shake Your Pan, during which time Jen & Nate got their clue.

TK & Rachel reached the gold mining station to see Nick & Don leaving it, clue in hand. Nick told them mining for gold was "easy," which was true for them, since Don had some mining experience. But the dismayed hippies scooped up a few worthless pebbles at a time and realized that they’d made a big mistake.

Back over at Shake Your Booty, Ronald & Christina were penalized for an over-reliance on The Bump in their performance. Kynt wowed the judges with some impressive — and utterly predictable — baton-twirling skills. And Shana’s & Jennifer’s impressions of lazy pole dancers were rewarded with a clue seconds after TK & Rachel finally turned in their ounce of gold.

Eighth place team Jason & Lorena were absent through all of this because they left the Pit Stop almost 90 minutes behind the seventh team to leave (Shana & Jennifer). And since the first seven teams left within forty minutes of each other, it looked like a tall order for Jason & Lorena to catch up.

Adding to Jason & Lorena’s disadvantage, Shana & Jennifer used this season’s new screw-your-opponents tool, called a U-Turn. The U-Turn allows one team to send another back to complete the Detour task that they initially skipped.

The top five teams decided not to use the U-Turn, but Shana logically insisted that they seize the opportunity to knock physical threats Jason & Lorena out of the race, assuming that this was an elimination leg. Jennifer consented, although she worried about race karma coming back to bite them.

After the U-Turn, teams took a taxi to a goat market to find their next clue: a Roadblock in which one team member had to load various items, including a "potentially uncooperative goat," onto a bicycle and deliver the supplies to a specific vendor. The wobbly bike was annoying, but not as annoying as trying to navigate the crowded market stalls without speaking the local language.

The task especially freaked out Rachel, who got lost after delivering her supplies. Meanwhile, her partner TK took the opportunity to go all self-righteous about the U-Turn on the already guilt-ridden Jennifer, while Shana was doing the Roadblock: "I probably wouldn’t have made that decision."

The other Jennifer displayed a similar lack of bad manners at the Pit Stop, when she and partner Nate were narrowly beaten to the mat by Azaria & Hendekea. Jennifer said, "I wanna come in first. We just really want it bad, and I just feel like everyone should get their time, and they’ve already had their time two times before this."

Jennifer appeared to regret the statement, after Hendekea said it would have felt wrong to just let another team beat them in a competition for $1 million. But I’m sure Azaria & Hendekea will give Jen’s words some consideration when they’re zipping around on the motor scooters they won for finishing first.

Shana & Jennifer reached the mat sixth, TK & Rachel seventh, and Jason & Lorena last, as expected. It was an elimination leg, and the dating couple was sent packing. Lorena said that the race taught her not to be in such a rush to get married. Given Jason’s statement that "there’s some kind of confinement within a marriage," she’s probably going to be waiting a long time.

Next week, Ronald falls off some stilts, and Shana & Jennifer back their car in front of an oncoming bus.

Ox Notes: November 21, 2007

After being eliminated from DwtS last night, Jennie Garth wrote in her blog, "I hate to say it, but I knew this was coming." She continued, "My only regret is that Derek didn’t make it to the finals alongside his sister Julianne."

Derek Hough told TV Guide that he wasn’t surprised by the results either: "You can’t stop the juggernaut [Marie Osmond], so we knew this was probably our time."

Jennie’s husband, Peter Facinelli, had some sweet quotes about his wife in the same TV Guide article. With their affectionate relationship and super cute daughters, I bet the couple is already fielding offers to star in their own reality show.

According to People’s DwtS: What You Didn’t See article, "The Juggernaut" was so excited when she learned that she and Jonathan Roberts would be moving on to the finals that she ran over and kissed Bruno Tonioli on the lips.

Yahoo! has a gallery of photos from last night’s Results Show, while ABC News has some cute pictures of the Hough siblings as little kids.

Speaking of little kids, Joey McIntyre’s wife, Barrett, gave birth to a baby boy on Tuesday.

And Wayne Newton’s doctor has given him medical clearance to participate in the Dancing with the Stars tour, although he’ll presumably still sit out next week’s finale.

Since Survivor is a clip show this week, I’ll be taking a break from posting for the next few days. See you Sunday night with a recap of The Amazing Race. Happy Thanksgiving!

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.