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This week’s Dancing with the Stars recap is very special. I was lucky enough to actually watch the show live (or as the announcer says, “LIIIVE!!!”), and no, I’m not talking about simply East coast time. I was there in the audience today, ensconced deep amidst Emmitt Smith and Willa Ford’s friends and family, just inches from that hallowed parquet. I wanted to bring my camera, but alas, the crack security team at CBS Television City apprehended this digital contraband (as well as my cell phone), effectively taking me off “the grid” for three exciting, enchanting hours.
Anyway, seeing the festivities up close and personally was highly enjoyable (even if the seats were a tad, er, severe in the comfort department), and I thank ABC for accommodating me. But enough sweet talk. Let’s relive tonight’s whirlwind of Brazilian delights!As I just alluded to, this week’s dances were all Brazilian in origin: the samba and the rhumba. By the way, this just occurred to me. After the taping, I actually ate Brazilian food for dinner. Total coincidence. Looks like Dancing with the Stars got into my brain. That would also explain why I unbuttoned my shirt down to my navel and swiveled my ass around the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market for two minutes.
Okay, okay. I keed. There was no swiveling (at least, none that I’ll admit to). Nevertheless, I figure I’ll start this recap at the beginning — and I’m not talking about the credits. I’m talking about 3:30 PM this afternoon when I arrived at Television City (the studio lot where the show is taped). It was mildly stressful for me because I was playing chicken with my car’s gas tank. The light was on, the needle was nearly at the bottom, but there was no way I was going to be late for this taping. As I waited in the line of cars seeking to gain entrance to the studio lot, I kept nervously eyeing my gas gauge. Would this idling be detrimental to my gas supply? Would I be so garish as to run out of gas right here, right on Beverly Boulevard, just outside of the Dancing with the Stars? Even worse, there was a gas station right across the street. Everyone would be rolling their eyes at me: how could you let your car run out of gas when there was a 76 Station just twenty feet away? But I couldn’t just leave the line. I needed to get on the lot!
Well, ten minutes later, I finally pulled up to the security guard, and he told me to park next door at The Grove (a big mall type area, for you non-Angelenos). So after all that stress and anxiety, I didn’t even need to be in that line in the first place. I could have gone to get gas, parked at the Grove, and been on the studio lot in less time than it had taken me to crawl up to the gate. Seeing that I had wasted so much time in this line, I decided I better haul ass to the parking structure at the Grove. I certainly wasn’t going to get gas now — it was already 3:35, and I was explicitly told to arrive between 3:15 and 3:30 PM.
Luckily, the parking situation at The Grove was significantly easier. Plus, through the magic of mild inclines, my gas gauge had actually managed to go back up again, which meant I wasn’t nearly as depleted as I had previously thought. Ah, sweet anxiety release.
I then walked briskly over to the studio lot, gained access, and headed over to the soundstage where I checked in and got in the back of the large security line. I knew this much: I had a cell phone on me and a digital camera. Chances were that I wasn’t allowed to bring them in, but maybe I could sneak them in? No, better be honest. I was invited as a guest — why make a scene and jeopardize my chances of seeing the show (and yes, it was a foregone conclusion that any attempt at subterfuge would be completely botched). So now my dilemma was this: given that I wouldn’t be allowed to take my electronics into the show, do a) I get out of line now, trek alll the way back to the car, put the celly and the camera in the glove compartment, trek alll the way back and risk having the doors close on me — or worse, get placed in one of those oft-maligned second-tier seats in the ballroom? Or do I stay in line, try to sneak the electronics in, and if I fail, maybe talk real fast? The downside to that would be that if they made me stow away my camera and phone, I’d have to do the trek anyway, and worse, I would have wasted twenty-five minutes in the security line — much like my inefficient time at the security gate earlier.
I decided to ride fast and loose: I would stay in line. Unfortunately for me, the guards were not letting the electronics into the soundstage. But on the plus side, they were being ever so kind as to check the items. Crisis averted! What a glorious day!
Anyway, I then entered the building, and walking in behind me was someone I later found out was in High School Musical. I don’t remember his name, but I do recall that I went to use the bathroom, which was down a long hallway, and when I returned, he was saying that he wanted to go to the bathroom, but he did not want to walk down the long hallway. I didn’t stick around to see how that issue resolved itself, but I was amused nonetheless.
Well, I then walked onto the set, and I was very happy to see that everyone downstairs had assigned seats (which meant I didn’t have to stress about being one of the last to show up). Truthfully, every seat was good, and I enjoyed my little corner — and yes, I was in the corner. I was right next to the wall, facing the judges. It was sort of annoying because I couldn’t see both of those descending staircases, but on the upside, I could see backstage the entire time; so that more than made up for it. This calls for a diagram:
As you can (not) see in my drawing (ten years later, and drawing on a computer is still nearly impossible), the way the dance floor was laid was that all the stars had friends and family in the front rows, all sitting at nifty tables (those are the weird circles on my diagram). Usually, the people sitting behind the tables were part of that star’s posse. As luck would have it, I was placed smack dab in the middle of the Willa/Emmitt section. Some of their guests didn’t show, however, which meant a pleasant Asian family that spoke no English were plucked off the standby list and seated all around me too. Basically, it felt like Survivor: Cook Islands.
Also sitting next to me was a guy who yapped to Willa’s friends the entire time. He bragged about whatever he could brag about, thinking that he was impressing them, but instead, they were probably bored silly. I mean, this guy did not shut up for practically three hours. And his name was Chip. Need I say more?
About ten minutes before showtime, the judges stepped out on stage with much fanfare. Of course, since I had the special backstage view, I could see Carrie Ann INABA waiting in the wings, and as the music played, she happily boogied down, showing off those moves that made her the choreographer she is today. Little known fact: she has a small tattoo on her ankle. By the way, it’s not to imply Carrie Ann has ever looked bad by any means, but in person… wow. She’s a knockout. Holy Moly!
Also not above breakin’ it down was none other than Samantha Harris who showed off her surprisingly limber (but still awkward) moves. We didn’t see a whole hell of a lot, but I could tell if you got a few drinks in her, she’d be quite the spectacle at the party.
Finally, it was time for the show to begin. All the celebrities descended the staircase, and immediately, I had several gut reactions: a) Joey Lawrence looks even more like Mr. Clean in person — and he’s pretty short; b) Sara Evans is waaaay more attractive in person — that old adage about the camera adding ten pounds is definitely true in her case; c) Samantha Harris had really muscular arms.
But enough babbling. Let’s get to the heart and soul of this affair: the dancing!
Joey & Edyta
First up were Joey & Edyta who would be performing a razzle-dazzle samba, replete with a “chicken” move that Joey feared would look silly on him. Their pre-dance video feature really wasn’t very fascinating — it seemed to revolve around the pressure of properly employing said silly move. Nevertheless, the two bounced and gyrated across the stage, and while they were quite good, I wasn’t as enthralled as I was hoping I’d be. After all, this was our official TVgasm pick. Surely he’d rise to the occasion and deliver a magical samba. What Joey lacked in spark tonight, he made up for in ambiguous gayness. First, he danced to a George Michael tune. Then he shed his jacket in a mini-striptease. And finally, well, the whole Mr. Clean thing is really the nail in the coffin.
As for the judges, they all enjoyed his performance, but they didn’t love it. Len felt it lacked spontaneity, Carrie Ann spotted mistakes, but Bruno liked it. If I remember correctly, they ultimately earned two eights (Carrie Ann and Len) and a nine. 25. Not a bad score, but consider these guys are supposed to be frontrunners (and our official TVgasm pick), it was a bit disappointing. Needless to say, Joey’s head was not bobbing with aggressive thank-yous this week.
Willa & Maksim
In order to get in the spirit of this sultry rhumba, Willa and Max headed out to the ocean and pretended they were in Cuba (minus all the communism and stuff). The two hoofed around in the sand, and eventually, Max shed his shirt and the two engaged in a romantic rehearsal as the sun set behind them. Meanwhile, all the teen girls in the balcony (and there were about thirty of them) let out sighs of vicarious desire. As the video came to an end, Willa alerted us that Sexy Willa was back this week. I like how this is now her thing: she announces which of her crazy personalities will be coming to dinner.
Anyway, as readers of these posts may have gleaned, I haven’t been a huge Willa fan from the getgo. However, maybe it was seeing her live or maybe it was being stuck in Camp Willa, but I definitely had to hand it to her. She and Max had super strong chemistry, and their rhumba was mighty sexy. The only problem as I saw it was that Willa couldn’t wipe that goofy grin off her face, and according to Samantha Harris, the rhumba is a dance of seduction, not giggles.
Well, the judges loved it and rewarded her with praise. I don’t remember specifically any noteworthy comments, but they all noted how Willa seemed to be improving week after week. Afterwards, Samantha Harris then cornered Willa and asked if she and Maksim were an item, as the rumors would suggest. Willa merely smiled and said that they have a lot of chemistry regardless of what activity they’re doing. This elicited loud snickering in the audience (particularly me — I’m not above it), and as Willa tried to explain herself, she just heaped one sexual innuendo on top of another. Finally, she just flung her head back in shame as Samantha Harris tried to somehow take back control of the situation (which, as usual, she couldn’t).
Final scores: nines across the board for a total of twenty-seven (I think).
Sara & Tony
I can’t remember if they were next or not, but whatever. The order doesn’t matter that much. Anyway, Sarah’s whole thing this week was that she sang the Star Spangled Banner at a Mighty Ducks game, causing Tony to realize that if she put the same emotion and power into dancing as she did into singing, they could really improve. This then led to more boasts that this would be the week that America would finally see Sara come out of her shell. The real party girl Sara! Too bad she promises this every single week.
Needless to say, Sara and Tony’s samba was… eh. It wasn’t bad, necessarily. It just seemed slow. Sara simply does not seem to have the flexibility and limberness to compete with the young whippersnappers, and she doesn’t have the showmanship to compete with the fogeys. As a result, her samba seemed a bit boring to me.
However, for whatever reason, the judges still really loved Sara and Tony (perhaps their cutesy show of genuflection helped). Len, Carrie Ann, and Bruno heaped Sara with praise, and Len was ever so kind to mention that he had even bought her CD this week. But don’t get too excited. He only picked it up from some seedy used-record shop on Sunset Boulevard. Don’t put yourself out, Lenny Boy.
Ultimately, Sara wound up with eights all around (I think), and backstage, she thanked all her fans, whom she’s accumulated after having toured for 200 days last year. Or something like that. I don’t know. Once again, I repeat my usual refrain: she seems like an absolutely lovely woman, nicest in the world — but she really needs to be retired.
Mario & Karina
It was inevitable that ABC would finally pander to all the screaming women out there and show Mario shirtless. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened as we watched him and Karina horsing around at some random, lush pool. You know, it was there way of relaxing. The girls in the audience all squealed with delight when the camera caught Mario sensually applying sun tan lotion to Karina’s spray-tanned back, but then again, the mere mention of Mario’s name was enough to get all the girls going bonkers. Seriously, they loved him.
As for the actual rhumba, it was hot. Very hot. There were moments that seemed borderline inappropriate (okay, not really. But I felt like being hyperbolic). Point was, the dance was seductive to a hilt, and unlike Willa and Max, the two seemed to stay in character the entire time. And when I say “character,” I mean character — let’s just say Mario seemed to be very excited about this dance…
The judges absolutely loved the performance, with Bruno saying that whatever they were doing after hours (sex) was working. Len also noted that Mario was the exact opposite of Joey, mostly because he had hair and didn’t bob his head around for twenty-minutes after one compliment. Later, Samantha Harris asked Mario about their chemistry, and he played it off, saying that no one ever sees how much they bicker. Samantha then joked that he was just acting like a fifth grader snapping a girl’s bra, causing the audience to murmur with surprise. Even Samantha seemed shocked that the words had come out of her mouth as she stuttered and “uhh’d” over the next three or four seconds. This is why we watch, people. This is why we watch.
Final score: nines across the board (I think) for a total of 27. Shewt. No tens? Boo.
Jerry & Kym
I did not have high hopes for this performance, especially after the pre-dance video showed a shirtless Jerry receiving a spary-tan. It wasn’t a pretty sight in the least, and I hold the producers personally responsible for that burning sensation that plagued my eyes the rest of the night.
Anyway, after Jerry had been bronzed to perfection, he and Kim sauntered out onto the stage for a samba royale. I had to respect Kim’s outfit, which came with one of those nifty, feathery hats. Plus, Jerry even had some George Hamilton-esque props in two maracas. I was afraid this might turn very gimmicky (I like my sambas without gimmick, thank you very much), but the truth was that Jerry and Kym were awesome. They had the audience cheering more than any other couple so far that night. Honestly, his dancing wasn’t that terrible, and if freakin’ Sara Evans could get away with high praise, Jerry deserved it too.
Well, the judges loved Jerry’s moves also. They praised him for having tons of fun on the dance floor, and Len revealed that he looked forward to Jerry’s performances every week the most. As a result, he was going to give him the highest score he had ever given him in this competition. Oooh. And what would that be? Eight. In fact, Jerry got eights across the board for a total of twenty-four. Pretty good for him, but alas, it was no Mario Lopez.
By the way, during the commercial break after this performance, the DJ played Fergie’s idiotic song, “London Bridge,” to which Len started dancing like a homey. Bruno soon joined in, and my surreal moment of the night was complete.
Monique & Louis
To be honest, I don’t remember much of this segment. I do like Monique, but for whatever reason, she wasn’t that memorable to me. I do recollect that she was very good though, and oh, her final rhumba move seemed very precarious and challenging (she wound up upside down, which is pretty much the norm for her on this show). Her pre-dance feature focused on her relationship with Louis and how he always spoke in vague, abstract metaphors.
I guess the abstractions worked because the judges had nothing but praise for her. Carrie Ann Inaba nitpicked that Monique seemed to internalize her emotions just a little too much, but whatever, when it came time for scoring, she still gave her a nine — as did everyone else. It really seemed like everyone tonight was either earning 27 or 24 (except for you, fair Joey with your bizarre 25).
Emmitt & Cheryl
Last but certainly not least were Emmitt and Cheryl, who completely tore the place up with their samba. I won’t bother telling you about the lame pre-dance video (it was just the standard “Look at me with my kids” montage), but the performance — man, that was awesome. The combination of the music, the choreography, the spirit, and just about everything else made for a raucous, awesome time. Emmitt easily dethroned Jerry for biggest entertainer of the night as he undulated and wiggled his way across the dance floor.
Everyone went nuts (especially Carrie Ann), and Emmitt wound up with the biggest, longest standing ovation of the night. The guy in front of me (I forget his name) started yelling “TEN TEN TEN TEN,” which was cool (he was one of the Emmitt’s old football pals, I could tell). The downside was that he didn’t stop saying “TEN TEN TEN!” Literally. He may not have been shouting it, but it was like every word that came out of his mouth was “TEN!”
Well, the judges absolutely loved Emmitt’s performance, saying it was the best of the night. Carrie Ann was moved to actually rise from her seat and shake her bootay right there. I actually thought this might result in a perfect 30 out of 30, but amazingly, when the scores came in, the judges sacked him with nines. 27? Really? They put this on the same level as Monique and Willa? C’mon. There should have been a ten in there.
Anyway, that marked the last performance of the night. We were instructed to clap, clap, clap all the way through the end of the show, which is what we did, and then as the credits rolled, the celebs all wandered over to their fan sections, hugging and kissing everyone along the way. And don’t think that Chip didn’t claw his way over to Willa.
I was kind of pondering whether or not to stalk any of the stars, and for a moment, I thought it would be prudent of me to introduce myself to Joey Lawrence and alert him of the site’s endorsement. But then I realized that would be kind of lame. Besides, all the press crews were filtering onto the stage, hogging the celebs for their “TV shows” like “Access Hollywood” and “Entertainment Tonight“, whatever those are. I did, however, discover that a friend of mine works on the show, and she gave me a quick walkthrough of the famed greenroom/holding pen that the stars wait in all night. So that was cool. It was really small, just how it looks on TV.
And that was my exciting night at Dancing with the Stars. What did you think of the show? Was Emmitt kind of robbed? Who was your favorite?