Entertainment behind the scenes
After more twists than an Argentine tango, “Dancing with the Stars” reaches it climax this week with Bristol Palin on course to pull off what could be a stunning win in the grand finale of the ballroom dancing TV show.
Although “Dirty Dancing” star Jennifer Grey is considered the best dancer of the final three celebrities, fans of Sarah Palin’s oldest daughter have made clear through their votes over the past six weeks that the show, like “American Idol”, is as much about popularity as sheer talent.
Which is why Bristol, the 20 year-old single mom from Alaska, has a real shot at taking the coveted mirror ball trophy back to Wasilla, Alaska on Tuesday, and becoming the most controversial winner of the U.S. TV contest in its five-year history.
And here’s why: passionate fans make zealous voters and e-mailers in contests where the outcome is ultimately in the hands of the public. Just look at Justin Bieber’s take-over of the American Music Awards on Sunday in a contest that was also determined by fan votes.
In the end it all came down to audience votes, and Denise Richards (formerly Ms. Charlie Sheen) lost the popularity contest on “Dancing with the Stars” as she was kicked off the ballroom floor Tuesday night even after scoring higher than her “dance off” rival, Holly Madison.
Was it Richards’ dancing that got her can-canned? It’s hard to say. On Monday night’s performance show, Richards was taken to task by the judges and given a low score, but in Tuesday’s final ”dance off,” after both she and Madison landed in the bottom two, the judges said Richards was much improved and gave her a higher score (20) to Madison (18). Still, when audience votes were figured in, it was Madison who remained to dance again next week. It begged the question, why didn’t audiences like Richards?
Expect stunt-performer Steve-O back on “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday night’s show, despite falling on his back during a rehearsal for Monday night’s episode. On his blog on Tuesday, the “Jackass” star showed a picture of the swelling on his back, where he landed on his mic pack during rehearsal with his professional dancing partner, Lacey Schwimmer.
“With 20/20 hindsight, I must admit that I exercised very poor judgment last night,” Steve-O wrote. “Jumping flat onto a bad back with a microphone pack strapped to it was sensationally idiotic, especially after Lacey told me what a bad idea she thought it was.”
Three more contestants on the ABC show “Dancing with the Stars” nursed injuries on Friday as they steeled themselves for their appearance on the show next week. Dance floor casualties Steve-O, Steve Wozniak and Gilles Marini are all hurting, but they want to stay on, according to media reports.
Steve-O, a daredevil stunt man who starred in the television series “Jackass,” has complained of an on-going back injury. Wozniak, who co-founded Apple Computer Inc, was photographed earlier this week leaving a Los Angeles dance studio with a cast on his leg. Marini, a French-born actor who starred in last year’s movie “Sex and the City,” has said he separated his shoulder. It remains to be seen on Monday’s episode if all three contestants will follow through on their pledges to soldier on.
Jilted on national TV last week by the “The Bachelor”, former cheerleader Melissa Rycroft is expected to join ex-Playboy model Holly Madison as the last minute “Dancing with the Stars” replacements for injured singer Jewel and celebrity journalist Nancy O’Dell.
But on the eve of the eighth season of the show, it seems that Olympic champion gymnast Shawn Johnson, 17, is the celebrity that fans are most excited about seeing, according to an AOL poll.
Brooke Burke dominated the competition on “Dancing with the Stars” on Monday, as the ballroom dancing television show neared its end with three finalists in the running. But despite the judges giving her top marks and all but declaring her the winner, there’s that whole business of fans voting for their favorite contestant – and that’s where things can get tricky.
In the final round of last season’s “American Idol,” teen crooner David Archuleta seemed bound for the trophy based on the judges’ remarks. So when rocker David Cook was declared the winner by 12 million votes from fans, even he said that he was surprised.
On this season’s “DWTS,” retired football star Warren Sapp has emerged as the crowd favorite, even if he lacks technique. On Monday’s show, he played up his popularity when he said into the TV camera, “I’m already the people’s champion, now it’s time to make it official.” The judges all agreed that Warren connects with the audience with judge Len Goodman telling the hefty contestant and former professional football player, “As an entertainer you have no one that touches you.”
Former boy band singer Lance Bass has shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season. For his all-important freelance routine on Monday, Lance and his partner Lacey Schwimmer performed a hip-hop routine, a style that is Lance’s strong suit but that he rarely gets a chance to use in the ballroom dancing competition.
The judges had some kind words for Lance and gave him a score of 27 out of 30 for his freestyle. But it was nothing close to the praise they offered Brooke. Goodman described it as the best freestyle dance routine he had ever seen, and the judges gave her a perfect score of 30.
It could hardly come as a surprise to many viewers when Cody Linley was voted off “Dancing with the Stars” on Tuesday, after he finished at the bottom of the judges’ scoring tally for three straight weeks.
“DWTS” co-host Samantha Harris told Cody, 18, that he had grown up in his time on the show. Last week a small contingent of his young fans squealed in delight when Maurice Greene was eliminated instead of him. On Tuesday, the crowd gave Cody a warm send-off.
“Words can’t even explain the true amazing, growing, learning journey that I’ve had on this show,” Cody said. “I can’t show my appreciation any more to Julianne. I can’t say thank you. I love her so much. This opportunity has been so amazing.”
(Writing and reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)
“Hannah Montana” star Cody Linley has waited patiently until he could reunite with his favorite high-stepper, Julianne Hough, who was out on medical leave. On Tuesday they hit the floor together again on “Dancing With The Stars,” after Cody squeaked past last week’s elimination round. But how long will they last?
Tuesday night, 18-year-old Cody fretted over whether he could pull off his paso doble, saying he worried his young age could keep him from looking manly enough for the dance style, which is meant to resemble a bull fight. As it turns out, Cody had other problems with the dance. The judges called his performance wooden and stiff, and judge Len Goodman remarked on Cody’s military outfit and marshal choreography as he gave Cody a dressing-down.
After having her appendix removed only two weeks ago, popular dancer Julianne Hough made her comeback on “Dancing with the Stars” Tuesday, twisting the night away with her brother, Derek Hough, to the tune of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire”.
And Hough’s partner on the show, “Hannah Montana” star Cody Linley, was glad to have her back. In a segment with relationship expert Drew Pinsky, better known as Dr. Drew, the 18-year-old Cody opened up about his feelings for Julianne.
With tears streaming, Cody said he worried about Julianne during her hospitalization, which was related to complications from a condition called endometriosis. “She’s an amazing person who has let me grow as a person,” a tearful Cody said. Dr. Drew put a box of tissues between Cody and Julianne, who sat nearby also crying. All the couples got the Dr. Drew treatment on Tuesday, but the other contestants limited their concerns to overcoming rehearsal room sniping, while Julianne and Cody were the only ones to cry tears over their friendship.
The fans’ desire to see Cody and Julianne dance together again, after pro dancer Edyta Sliwinska stepped in as a replacement partner for Julianne, could have earned Cody some votes this week as he escaped elimination. Instead, Olympic sprinter Maurice Greene and his partner Cheryl Burke were voted off.
Burke told Greene that in her years on “Dancing with the Stars” she has never encountered a partner who worked harder. And playing off their catchphrase “winner, winner chicken dinner,” Burke told Greene, “You will always be the winner, winner chicken dinner of my heart.” And with that, four couples were left to compete next week.
Susan Lucci left “Dancing With The Stars” with class on Wednesday night, as she radiantly addressed the audience after she was voted off the ABC ballroom dancing show, following in the footsteps of another soap star from two seasons ago who also made it far in the competition.
“I just have to say I have had the most incredible experience here, I leave with a life experience, something I will never forget,” Lucci told the audience.