Monthly Archives: March 2008

DwtS 6, Week 2: Performances

The stars and their partners had one last chance to avoid being one of the first two couples eliminated from Dancing with the Stars 6.

Steve Guttenberg & Anna Trebunskaya — Mambo
While not a perfect Mambo, Steve & Anna did what they knew would work. Their routine was fun and cute, right down to Anna’s rainbow sherbet-colored dress. And Steve played to the studio audience while Anna handled the fancy footwork.

After some confusing cooking references, Len Goodman said, "Tonight, it just didn’t really work for me." Bruno Tonioli told Steve, "All the energy went into the facial expressions, so the body died and technique went down the drain." Carrie Ann Inaba added, "You got the audience behind you, but it didn’t really go anywhere. But you guys looked cute."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 16/30

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke — Quickstep
Cristian certainly took the judges’ advice about his posture, and the couple’s performance was fast and energetic. Cheryl’s polka dotted dress looked more appropriate for a Paso Doble, but hers was hardly the most questionable wardrobe decision of the night.

Carrie Ann told Cristian, "Your posture was so much improved. Your footwork could be a hair sharper." Len quipped, "It was faster than wind from a duck’s bottom," adding, "It had a bit of a wildness about it." Bruno said, "The performance was good."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…7, Len…6, Bruno…7 = 20/30

Monica Seles & Jonathan Roberts — Mambo
While she seemed slightly more relaxed than last week, Monica is so uncomfortable that she can’t throw herself completely into the dancing. She doesn’t finish her arm movements, and her facial expressions look forced. It was better, but not good enough.

Bruno told Monica, "You have to connect with the music." Carrie Ann said, "This week, you came out and you attacked it. This is a huge step for you." Len said, "You tried your hardest. But there are just so many technical problems at the moment."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 15/30

Penn Jillette & Kym Johnson — Quickstep
The routine opened with Penn sticking pins in a voodoo doll that looked like Bruno — never a good sign. Penn still looks heavy when he moves, and the height disparity between him and Kym is hard to ignore. Penn went on to interrupt the judges throughout their comments.

Len urged Penn to "spend a bit of time getting your feet sorted out." Bruno agreed, "The footwork was really, really, really bad. Atrocious." Carrie Ann stayed upbeat: "I enjoyed watching you."

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

Priscilla Presley & Louis van Amstel — Mambo
Priscilla tried for sex appeal in a leopard print gown, and ended the performance by crawling toward the camera like a cat, but the majority of the routine was PG-rated. It wasn’t the speediest Mambo ever, but it was good.

Carrie Ann called Priscilla "so glamorous and so sexy." Len appreciated technical aspects of the dance, but wanted more, "Go on, girl, give it a bit." Bruno agreed: "This was very good, very well placed,… but go for that sexuality that we know you have."

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

Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough — Quickstep
It looks like Shannon needed to get one nervous performance out of the way, because she showed some real talent tonight. Her footwork was strong, and she did some impressive detail work with her hands. The routine was fun and it showcased the great chemistry between Shannon & Derek.

Bruno exclaimed, "That’s what dancing’s all about! This is what we want! You’re in the game." Carrie Ann said, "That was a very difficult routine. You nailed it." Len called the performance the "best dance so far tonight."

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

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska — Mambo
Edyta is such a dynamic performer that she couldn’t help but steal the show, but Jason proved that he’s no slouch. The routine was exciting and ended with a move that was really cool, if not totally within the rules. Good thing the judges aren’t calling the couples out on lifts yet.

Len told Jason, "You’re a winner," and Bruno called him "the Mambo King." Carrie Ann said, "I think you’re a real contender. I think you’ve got a great shot at winning this thing."

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

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani — Quickstep
Marissa had a lot of energy, and this week she was able to keep enough control to remember the routine. Unfortunately, her unflattering hot pink dress was the most memorable part of the performance. She and Tony need to raise their game next week if they want to stay in the competition for the long haul.

Carrie Ann said, "Your synchronicity was just off." Len told Marissa, "You make me smile. You’re lovely and bubbly." Bruno added, "Much better than last week."

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

Adam Carolla & Julianne Hough — Mambo
At one point in the routine, Adam did a backwards somersault, so this wasn’t a strict interpretation of a Mambo. But it was funny, and there were moments when Adam actually looked light on his feet. Plus, Julianne looks like she’s having a legitimately good time dancing with Adam, which makes their performances enjoyable to watch.

Bruno told Adam, "You’re not a natural dancer, but you made me laugh. That’s a plus." Carrie Ann noted, "That wasn’t quite a Mambo, but it was cute and you gave it your best." Len said, "I thought it was brilliant. I think part of the show is to be entertained, and I think that’s what you did."

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

Marlee Matlin & Fabian Sanchez — Quickstep
The music had an unusual Mambo feel to it, which the duo acknowledged with a few moves at the start of the routine. Marlee overcame the challenge of being unable to look at Fabian while in hold, and her timing was perfect throughout the fast routine. To his credit, Fabian has given Marlee two difficult routines, and she’s shown that she’s totally able to pull them off.

Len told the couple, "I think that you’ve got great potential to go a long way in this competition." Bruno said, "That was a Mambo-ish Quickstep. It could’ve been more traditional, but very well executed." Carrie Ann told Marlee, "You have this incredible musicality when you dance. You have this natural way of bringing to life the style of the dance."

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

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas — Mambo
Kristi gave the performance of the night: fast, fun, and sharp. Like last week, it was well beyond what anyone would expect at this point in the competition. Kristi’s cheetah-print gloves were a fitting tribute to Mark’s girlfriend and former partner, Sabrina Bryan (she was in the audience), who started out so strong last season.

Carrie Ann enthused, "I think the other couples are going to have a really hard time beating you in the scores. You are so precise." Len said, "You’ve done it again. Fantastic." Bruno agreed: "Fast, sharp, exuberant. Great choreography."

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

Mario & Karina Smirnoff — Quickstep
This couple gets the award for most inexplicable outfits of the night. Dancing to what sounded like ’60s girl-group pop, Mario wore a jacket with tails but no sleeves, and Karina wore a harem girl costume. I was so distracted that I could hardly pay attention to the routine, apart from Karina’s flying leap off the stage at the beginning.

Bruno said they looked like "Mario and the Queen of Sheba." Len told Mario, "Your footwork was pretty good. Your hold was funny. You’ve gotta work on the finesse." Carrie Ann said, "You’re always gonna bring this special vibe."

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

After combining this week’s scores with their scores from last week, here’s how the couples rank:
Judges’ Leaderboard (60 Points Possible)
54 — Kristi & Mark
50 — Mario & Karina
49 — Jason & Edyta
46 — Marlee & Fabian
45 — Priscilla & Louis, Shannon & Derek
41 — Cristian & Cheryl
39 — Marissa & Tony
34 — Steve & Anna, Adam & Julianne
33 — Penn & Kym
30 — Monica & Jonathan

For the most part, I’m in agreement with the judges’ rankings of the couples thus far. On Tuesday night’s first Results Show of the season, one male celebrity and one female celebrity will be eliminated. It seems a good bet that Monica Seles will be the woman going home.

Among the men, it’s a toss up between Penn, Steve, and Adam. Of the three, Penn’s my pick to hit the road, but there’s really no way to predict which one will go.

Kristi shouldn’t be in any danger for quite a while, but Sabrina’s departure last season has left me a little paranoid. So, Kristi’s getting a couple of my votes. I’m splitting the rest evenly between Adam and Steve. Of the lesser male contestants, they’re the ones I most enjoy watching — on and off the dance floor.

Ox Notes: March 24, 2008

With Dancing with the Stars 6’s second week of performances set to kick off in a few hours, there’s plenty of DwtS news to go around.

Last week’s highest scoring man, Mario, told the Baltimore Sun that he’s a bit nervous about tonight’s Quickstep. Jason Taylor writes at that he’s more relaxed for his Mambo, but recommends that viewers "keep an eye on Edyta and you won’t see all the things I screw up."

One of last week’s high scoring women, Marlee Matlin, spoke with TV Guide about her budding six-pack abs. And Jimmy Kimmel confessed to People that his intentions weren’t good when he urged pal Adam Carolla to sign on for Dancing with the Stars: "I’m always tricking him into doing something that might potentially be embarrassing."

When Monica Seles’s Dancing days are over, she’ll get right to work on a memoir, due out in May 2009.

In other news, MSN has a list of entertaining TV dramas that might actually teach you a thing or two about history.

American Idol announced that Dolly Parton, Mariah Carey, and Neil Diamond will drop by the show this season to mentor the contestants and perform. And just by typing Neil Diamond’s name, I’m guaranteed to have "Cracklin’ Rosie" stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Ox Notes: March 19, 2007

Survivor fans, take note: A new episode of Survivor: Micronesia airs tonight at 8 ET/7 CT — instead of in its usual Thursday night timeslot — to make way for college basketball. People has an interview with Jonathan and Chet. Jonathan elaborated on his medical situation and explained some of the strategic moves that didn’t make it on air to Reality TV World.

Also on TV tonight is finale of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Gauntlet III on MTV. Although the contestants spend most of the time when they’re not competing in challenges getting drunk, show producers say they don’t actually provide the contestants with booze. Producers just provide the contestants with money so that they can buy the booze themselves.

Competing directly with American Idol dealt a serious blow to Dancing with the Stars’ ratings; last night’s show was watched by an average of 16.8 million viewers, down from 20.9 million the night before.

TV Guide and People have backstage reports from the show, and Entertainment Tonight correspondent Helio Castroneves interviewed all of the ladies. Mel B is still struggling as a correspondent for Access Hollywood; during her interviews, she accidentally made Monica Seles and Shannon Elizabeth cry.

People has an article about new pro dancer Fabian Sanchez, and TV Guide has a video interview with Monica Seles and Steve Guttenberg, filmed before they took the floor this week.

There’s plenty of Dancing with the Stars gossip making headlines today. Marissa Jaret Winokur tells People that a surrogate is carrying her first child for her and her husband, Judah Miller.

And Star Magazine reports that Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke were caught having an affair during the recent DwtS tour, an allegation that the Season 2 champs’ reps deny.

The Miss USA Pageant is being taken over by former DwtS contestants. Marie Osmond will host the pageant with her brother, Donny, and Heather Mills will serve as one of the judges.

Variety announced some of writer Rob Thomas’ plans for his upcoming Beverly Hills, 90210 spinoff, including making the cast more multicultural than the original series. That shouldn’t be tough. Having one African-American extra walk through the background of a single shot would make the new show more multicultural than the original.

DwtS 6 Premiere: The Women

Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough — Cha Cha Cha
Shannon has a fantastic body, and Derek did his best to make her look good. The choreography was fun and flirty, and it allowed Shannon to show some natural grace. The performance needed refining, but this couple has some real potential.

Len Goodman said, "Great start to this evening. You didn’t straighten your legs, so you lost a little bit of hip action." Bruno Tonioli called Shannon a "sexy minx," adding, "You’ve got great legs, so learn how to use them." Carrie Ann Inaba told Shannon, "You have such great energy, and such confidence."

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

Monica Seles & Jonathan Roberts — Fox Trot
Tough tennis player Monica’s bubblegum pink dress was girly, if not flattering. She spent several bars of the intro sitting on the steps, perhaps indicating of a lack of confidence on Jonathan’s part. Monica looked uncomfortable throughout the performance, and she moved awkwardly, as well.

Bruno suggested to Monica, "Engage the center of the body." Len said, "I liked all that story that you told," but he agreed with Bruno: "Lift it to shift it, and move round that floor." Carrie Ann told Monica, "The energy that you used in tennis — you have to move the space. It’s not so different than you think."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 15/30

Marissa Jaret Winokur & Tony Dovolani — Cha Cha Cha
Simple, bland choreography sunk this routine. Marissa had very little to do, and it was hardly recognizable as a Cha Cha Cha. Tony, wearing shiny pants that made him look, in the words of Tom Bergeron, like a "macho oil slick," seemed to underestimate his partner’s ability.

Carrie Ann said, "I don’t think there was enough content for a Cha Cha." Bruno liked Marissa’s "eye-popping pep and personality." Len addressed Tony: "This girl’s got more talent than that showed."

Judges’ Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 18/30

Priscilla Presley & Louis van Amstel — Fox Trot
There is nothing about Priscilla that says "62." She looked confident and moved effortlessly. On top of that, she completed a death spiral without breaking a hip. A surprisingly strong opening performance.

Len enthused, "It was a proper Fox Trot. No gimmicks, no props." Bruno agreed: "This was an uncompromising, smoking hot Fox Trot." Carrie Ann told Priscilla, "You just proved to so many people that age is just a number, because you were the queen of that dance floor."

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

Kristi Yamaguchi & Mark Ballas — Fox Trot
As the music began, Mark immediately spun Kristi into a dip, just to make sure that everyone knew they came to win. Kristi’s beautiful extension was accentuated by a glamorous gold dress, and Mark looked dashing in his tux. Already, they look like a pair of champions.

Bruno cheered, "Absolutely wicked! Timing! Precision! For the first round, one of the best performances I’ve ever seen." Carrie Ann said, "You made it look effortless." Len, struggling to find something to criticize, told Kristi to work on her pivots.

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

Fabian Sanchez & Marlee Matlin — Cha Cha Cha
Marlee & Fabian put any doubt about her ability to dance to rest with this routine. Marlee was always in time with her partner and the music, and she danced with great enthusiasm.

Carrie Ann echoed the enthusiastic studio audience: "That was almost unbelievable. You are so fluid, you move with such ease." Len said, "You had great choreography. Just try to control your arms when you dance." Bruno noted, "I counted all the way through, and you hardly missed a beat."

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

Judges’ Leaderboard:
27 — Kristi & Mark
24 — Priscilla & Louis
22 — Marlee & Fabian
21 — Shannon & Derek
18 — Marissa & Tony
15 — Monica & Jonathan

As with the men, there appears to be a clear front runner among the women. Kristi has a significant lead over the other celebrity dancers. But Priscilla, Marlee, and Shannon showed real potential, and they should make the competition very interesting. I’m splitting my votes between the four of them.

Monica is way out of her comfort zone and probably doesn’t have as much time as she would need to embrace dancing. Unless she shows some major improvement in her next performance on Monday night, she should be the first woman to go.

Marissa is in a tough spot. She may not have ballroom experience, but she has danced before, in front of live audiences even. Her problem seems to be Tony. His choreography was unfathomably simple, given Marissa’s experience level. He focused too much attention on himself, perhaps misguidedly assuming that it would ease the pressure on Marissa.

Tony needs to start trusting Marissa and challenging her with more challenging choreography. If he doesn’t, they’ll be out before they even get started.

Ox Notes: March 18, 2007

There’s naturally plenty of Dancing with the Stars news after last night’s Season 6 premiere. But first…

CBS will air Secret Talents of the Stars on April 8. I planned to blow off the show until I read that George Takei is in the cast, and his "secret talent" is singing country music. Suddenly, the show is a must see for me.

NBC is getting into the food competition biz, tapping genius chef/madman Marco Pierre White to host The Chopping Block. White’s contentious relationship with Mario Batali is detailed in the book Heat by Bill Buford, which I mentioned last week, because it features one of the contestants from Top Chef: Chicago.

Things have gone well for some members of the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy crew since the show ended its run; Ted Allen is a part of the Top Chef family, and Carson Kressley has a show on Lifetime. Sadly, however, Jai Rodriguez has been relegated to hosting a dog grooming competition on Animal Planet.

Project Runway’s Tim Gunn stops by tonight’s episode of The Biggest Loser to make over the contestants. The show starts at 8 ET on NBC, so I plan to catch an hour of it before the women hit the floor for part two of the Dancing with the Stars 6 premiere.

Last night’s men’s competition was watched by 20.9 million viewers. The women face a daunting challenge tonight: the first hour of DwtS is up against American Idol, for the first time in show history.

Before last night’s competition, Adam Carolla told MSN, "I think it’s pretty clear to everybody that there’s a separate competition going on between me, Penn Jillette and Steve Guttenberg. I fully expect to win the Clumsy Oaf Division."

People has details on the stunning black dress Samantha Harris wore last night, as well as a What You Didn’t See report from backstage at the show.

TV Guide has its own backstage report from the show, and Entertainment Tonight has a report by special correspondent Helio Castroneves.

Access Hollywood had its special correspondent, Mel B, file a report from last night’s show, and her charming lack of professionalism makes the video fun to watch. Mel repeatedly mentions her Top 3 Men, and only near the end of the video does it become clear that she’s talking about picks she made before the couples danced. She’ll get the hang of this journalism thing yet.

Before she dances tonight, Marissa Jaret Winokur stopped by the set of Entertainment Tonight to talk about rehearsals.

See everyone here tonight for our live in-show DwtS chat, starting at 9 ET/8 CT.

DwtS 6 Premiere Week: The Men

One dancer stood out from the crowd, as the men took the floor for the premiere of Dancing with the Stars 6.

A group performance by the DwtS pros kicked off the evening. Since Maksim Chmerkovskiy wasn’t around to wear a vest with no shirt underneath, Tony Dovolani and his hairless chest happily took on that solemn duty.

Penn Jillette & Kym Johnson — Cha Cha Cha
Kym was initially struck by how much shorter she is than Penn. Making the show’s first ever reference to Pompeii, Penn said, "If there were a volcano and we were preserved, archaeologists in the future would assume that you were my dinner."

Penn enthusiastically slid across the floor during their Cha Cha, only he did it on his belly instead of his feet. The big guy can move, but not smoothly. There’s plenty of room for growth. Mercifully, he limited the magic tricks to pulling some flowers out of his vest at the end of their routine, presenting the artificial buds to Kym.

Len Goodman told Penn, "I thought you captured the flavor of the Cha Cha Cha. Your problem was your feet." Bruno Tonioli agreed: "It was like watching a trailer for ‘Shrek Goes Cha Cha Cha’." Carrie Ann Inaba commended Penn for his "great energy…great attitude."

Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…6, Bruno…5 = 16/30

Jason Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska — Fox Trot
The teasing began as soon as pro football player Jason announced that he’d be ballroom dancing on TV: "My poker friends gave me a tutu. A pink one."

For a big, macho guy, Jason is surprising fluid in his movements. And his wide wingspan highlights his great extension. Most importantly, he and Edyta looked like they were having fun together.

Len joked with Jason, "You are a good looking guy. It’s like looking in a mirror," before adding, "You’ve got great posture. Now you’ve just gotta try and act the dance a little bit." Carrie Ann said, "I love the detail with your hands." Bruno recommended "a little bit more drive. Romance. Heat."

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

Cristian de la Fuente & Cheryl Burke — Cha Cha Cha
Upon learning that Cheryl was his partner, Cristian cheered, "I have a chance to win!"

Cristian’s stellar footwork made his hunched posture look that much worse. But once Cheryl applies some of the same posture correcting techniques that worked on Drew Lachey, Cristian will be in great shape to succeed in the competition.

Carrie Ann told Cristian, "You gotta watch your shoulders." Bruno added the visual, "It looks like you’re riding a bike." Len warned Cristian, "Work on it for next week. You’re doing the Quickstep. If your posture’s no good, you’re gonna get terrible marks."

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

Adam Carolla & Julianne Hough — Fox Trot
As they rehearsed, Adam asked Julianne, "Are there any dances that favor the guys with the rolled shoulders and the low self-esteem?" Dances that require chemistry could be a problem, given Adam’s concern about their age difference. He told Julianne, "I feel like your dad’s watching the show, and I’m gonna try to suck his daughter into my groin. I was raised better than that."

The dance started out a little slow, and Adam’s posture was stiff. But halfway through the routine, Julianne included a choreographic masterstroke: she made Adam high kick. This made him laugh, which loosened him up for the last few measures of the performance.

Bruno said, "There is a lot of work to do." Len told Adam, "Your footwork was good. You’ve gotta just relax a little bit." In response, Adam asked Len, "I’m supposed to get in a 9-piece suit in front of 25 million people and relax doing something I’m horrible at?" Carrie Ann said, "You had these moments when I thought, ‘Ooh, almost’."

Upon receiving their scores, Adam told Julianne, "Good news! You can hit the road and promote the country album early this year, ’cause there ain’t gonna be no three-peat in your future, honey."

Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…5, Len…5, Bruno…5 = 15/30

Mario & Karina Smirnoff — Cha Cha Cha
Things were going well in rehearsal until Karina had to have surgery on a herniated disc in her neck.

Karina looked to be in tip-top shape during their performance. None of the men are even in the same league as Mario, and despite his protests to the contrary, I think his experience dancing hip-hop is an asset.

Carrie Ann exclaimed, "Dang! You can dance!" Len warned Mario about his "heel leads," which is Len code for "I couldn’t find anything else to criticize." Bruno asked, "Karina, do you have a monopoly on hot Marios?"

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

Steve Guttenberg & Anna Trebunskaya — Fox Trot
Steve is a fan of the show, and he was a little starstruck when he met Anna. He remained upbeat during practice: "I’ve nailed the Fox Trot in my mind, and now my body just needs to get on board."

Speaking of Steve’s body, dude is ripped for a guy about to turn 50. He started off a little stiff and slow, but he just looked so damned happy to be out there that you can’t help but root for him. His potential started to show as the routine progressed and he relaxed a bit.

Bruno said, "It started a bit shakily. It was a little bit like a graduation from the Billy Ray Academy of Dance." Carrie Ann told Steve he was "charming," but warned, "Watch your musicality." Len said, "Your smile is infectious. You’ve gotta work on your technique, but as a performance, it was really, really good."

Judges Scores: Carrie Ann…6, Len…6, Bruno…6 = 18/30

Before the show concluded, Tom Bergeron chatted with the female stars, who will dance Tuesday night. He gave Marissa Jaret Winokur and Shannon Elizabeth a hard time for allegedly betting on what the judges would say after each of the men’s performances.

Judges Leaderboard:
24 — Mario & Karina
22 — Jason & Edyta
21 — Cristian & Cheryl
18 — Steve & Anna
16 — Penn & Kym
15 — Adam & Julianne

Mario was undoubtedly the standout performer of the night. But all of my votes are going to Adam Carolla for one simple reason: Kenny Mayne.

Kenny, you may recall, was a terrible dancer. He was the first celebrity eliminated from Season 2, and his partner, Andrea Hale, never returned to the show. But he’s since hosted several hilarious editions of Dance Center.

So, based on what we know about Kenny now, would you still have voted to keep Tatum O’Neal on the show instead of him? Giselle Fernandez? MASTER P?!

People, this is our chance to right the wrong we all unwittingly committed against Kenny Mayne four seasons ago. SAVE ADAM CAROLLA! Only one mediocre dancer can go home each week, and there are several to choose from. Let’s keep the funny guy around, at least for a few more weeks.