Published September 30, 2009
On tonight’s results show of “Dancing With the Stars,” Kathy Ireland, the former swimsuit model, was sent home after performing a stiff, tentative quickstep that failed to connect with the judges and, apparently, the viewers.
Tom DeLay, the former House speaker, was tied with Ireland at the bottom of the judges’ leaderboard with only 18 points, but he wasn’t named one of the three contestants who were at risk of elimination during tonight’s show. That dishonor went to the actress Debi Mazar and the snowboarder Louis Vito.
It was an unusual week of “DWTS.” The head judge, Len Goodman, had a work commitment in England and was replaced by the film director Baz Luhrmann, whose “Strictly Ballroom” was an inspiration for this show’s British original, “Strictly Come Dancing.”
Like many celebrity guest judges on reality shows, Luhrmann was a little easy on the contestants, and he was more willing to preface his tougher votes with kind comments than the man he called “Uncle Lenny.” He was also more likely to forgive slight deviations from strict ballroom rules. Many of the regulars talked about this week as if they were fifth graders and had a lenient substitute teacher.
Also unusually, the hosts, Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris, announced who was safe from elimination according to the judges’ leaderboard, from top to bottom.
Here’s how the stars lined up in the judges’ votes after Monday’s performance show:
Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff: 27
Mya and Dmitry Chaplin: 27
Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson: 25
Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo: 21
Mark Decascos and Lacey Schwimmer: 21
Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 21
Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova: 20
Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough: 20
Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Balas: 19
Chuck Liddell and Anna Trebunskaya: 19
Kelly Osbourne and Louis van Amstel: 19
Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower: 19
Tom DeLay and Cheryl Burke: 18
Kathy Ireland and Tony Dovolani: 18
Aaron Carter, the former preteen idol, and his partner, Karina Smirnoff, had come in first last week as well. This week, after bickering during rehearsal, the two were all smiles performing a quickstep to the “Muppet Show” theme, with two of that series’ stars, Animal and Gonzo, playing along with Harold Wheeler’s orchestra. The two regular judges, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba, praised Carter’s showmanship and technique; Lurhman said it was “a real quickstep and a real show.” All three awarded the couple 9’s.
The other couple to receive 27 points, the R&B singer Mya and Dmitry Chaplin, also got straight 9’s; Luhrmann didn’t recuse himself even though Mya had been part of the all-star team that covered “Lady Marmalade” for his film “Moulin Rouge.”) Mya and Dmitry had been castigated by the judges last week for not doing a strictly ballroom waltz. With purist Len gone, the couple started their jive with a bit of pantomime in which Mya took off Dmitry’s coat and scarf. (“Luckily, Len isn’t here,” said Carrie Ann later.) From then on, the routine was near perfect. Dancing to Touch and Go’s “Would You Go to Bed With Me?”—so much for family entertainment—Mya matched her pro partner step for step. The only problem was that, like many of the night’s routines, it felt too short. (The producers had to cram 14 numbers into two hours.)
Donny Osmond, who is identified on the show as a “showbiz legend,” and Kym Johnson, lined up with the two leaders to learn their fate. On Monday, the 51-year-old Donny couldn’t stop talking about how he is the second oldest person in the competition, perhaps to lower expectations for his jive to “Secret Agent Man.” He was surprisingly bouncy and light on his feet, and the judges praised him for putting on such a good show for someone his age. Luhrmann gave him a 9 to the others’ 8’s.
Unsurprisingly, the hosts told the three leaders they were safe.
The three couples who finished with 21, all of whom had received straight 7’s from the judges, lined up next. The Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin had been warmed not to hold her breath while dancing (that ability is an asset while swimming), but she still seemed tense in their quickstep, set to the difficult “I Want You Back.” Her form was good, however. The judges praised her for lighting up the room when she was in the moment.
Mark Dacascos, the “chairman” on “Iron Chef America,” and Lacey Schwimmer looked better in their quickstep, but an early stumble cost them points, even though the judges praised Mark for his quick recovery.
The rehearsal segment featuring the actress Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy showed her nearly weeping because she felt he was treating her like an idiot. In their tango, set to the “Moulin Rouge” version of “Roxanne,” he seemed to be dragging her around, and she seemed distant. “Well, I loved the song,” said Luhrmann, who praised them for acting out love-hate well. The viewers may have found all the drama unpleasant, however, because Debi and Maks were the first couple to be told they were at risk, even though the judges had scored eight couples lower.
Next up to hear their fates were the two 20’s. The former NFL star Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova had tied for last among the men last week, and Michael was tense during rehearsal. But he pulled it together for a standard quickstep that the judges praised for its content (i.e., presenting typical quickstep moves) and for Michael’s star quality, although Luhrmann warned him not to let his tongue hang out.
The model and sometime actress Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough, who had come in first last week among the women’s pairs, did an energetic jive, but the judges called her on her out-of-control feet. “I can see you thriving being driven hard,” said Bruno oddly, trilling his r’s. Lurhmann said he would love to see more of a connection between the pair. (Perhaps he was thinking of Derek’s year-long romance with a former “DWTS” partner, Shannon Elizabeth.)
After the 20’s sailed through, it was time for the large group that scored 19. The actress Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Balas had tried to overcome the perception that she was too tentative last week. The judges praised her for going for it in her jive, but they all pointed out that she wasn’t quite hitting the steps.
Introducing Chuck Liddell, the Ultimate Fighting champion, on Monday, Tom Bergeron said, “Len suggested Chuck should get in touch with his feminine side. Maybe that’s why Len isn’t here.” Chuck did look menacing throughout his tango, but he also looked as if he were a chest of drawers that Anna Demidova was moving around the floor, trying to find a place to put it down. The judges may have been too scared to give Chuck the scores he deserved.
Kelly Osbourne had been the biggest surprise of week 1, performing a graceful waltz that wowed the judges, the audience and her parents (and reality-show costars), Ozzy and Sharon. She said she had wanted to shock her parents in a good way for once. She and her partner, Louis van Amstel, were on fire when they started Monday night’s tango, but Kelly missed a step, giggled and couldn’t get back in rhythm for the rest of the dance. “Your story is much more than the dance,” Luhrmann told her in an attempt to buck her up.
Louie Vito had been cut some slack last week by the judges, but his and Chelsie Hightower’s jive got them into trouble. Although he started the routine with an amazing spinning flip and did stunts throughout, his actual dancing was halfhearted. Nonetheless, Lurhmann, playing the anti-Len, praised the number, saying it was “tremendous and joyous and what a jive should be.” He gave it a 7 to the other judges 6’s. It remains unclear exactly how the viewers felt; although Tom and Samantha told Louie and Chelsie that they were at risk of elimination, they never said that they were in the bottom three.
The bottom two couples stood up next. On Monday, Tom DeLay, the former Republican majority leader of the House of Representatives, and Cheryl Burke had performed a tango that made you believe his claim that he was suffering from a foot injury. The judges praised him for his form, although Carrie Ann apparently wanted him to be more, uh, tight-assed. “You gotta squeeze them together, sir,” she said. Tom Bergeron cut in: “I don’t think historically that’s been his problem.”
Kathy Ireland and Tony Dovolani’s quickstep to “Shall We Dance” had left no one impressed. After the judges gave their scores on Monday, Samantha Harris asked rhetorically, “Shall they dance another week?” It turned out the answer was no.
Kathy and Tony did their final dance to the lyrically fraught “If I Could Turn Back Time.”
Filling out the results show were a taped behind-the-scenes-at-rehearsal segment, interviews with the professionals about how hard the stars are to train, and performances by Joss Stone and the Disney Channel star Selena Gomez. Both singers were upstaged by the professionals dancing in front of them, especially during Stone’s “Son of a Preacher Man” when Dmitry and Louis made a delicious-looking Cheryl and Anna sandwich.
On “Jon & Kate Plus Eight,” that seemingly endless beach vacation that Kate and the children took on a North Carolina island in June extruded another episode. While Mady and Cara were back home with Jon so they could finish their last week of school, Kate took the three 5-year-old girls to the mainland so they could go to a tea shop, buy beads and eat ice cream. For the third time, we saw the paparazzi taking shots at the family on the ferry. Kate said that she was worried that the girls might break some teacups, but it was unclear whether she really is that high strung or she was trying to create some drama in her interviews. The visit to an ice-cream parlor was no more interesting than when Kate did it with the 5-year-old boys. The high points of the episodes came in the little girls’ interviews, when they kept correcting each other’s recollections: One remembered that the tea party featured funny hats. “There was no funny hats!” cried another. Meanwhile, like too many divorced fathers, Jon tried to bribe his way into his children’s hearts. He bought Mady and Cara earrings, explaining that he bought himself some as well. He followed this adolescent rebel move with a pre-adolescent rebel move, mowing a space in the lawn so he could build a fire. (He said he wished they had some tabloids to burn.) When the show changes to just “Kate Plus Eight,” he might not be missed.
Once again playing off this season’s L.A. location, “Project Runway” gave the contestants one day to design a costume for a character in a specific movie genre. In his critiques, Tim Gunn told Louise she was too minimal and Nicolas he was too safe. Ra’mon was having second thoughts about his sci-fi outfit, which he later said was very “Kermit the frog gone wrong,” and he set about creating a new look. The judges at the runway show were an unmemorable bunch: the designer John Varvatos, the Marie Claire editor Zoe Glassner and a movie costume designer named Arianne Phillips. Their top three were Epperson, who designed a glamorous period outfit for a Western farmer’s wife; Christopher, whose period piece supposedly was for a Victorian vampire bride; and Nicolas, who won with his interplanetary ice queen. In the bottom were Gordana, who created a boring ’20 s flapper; Louise, who came up with a confusing story for her film noir outfit; and Ra’mon, whose second look was reptilian rather an amphibian and was sloppily sewn. He was sent home.
This season of “America’s Next Top Model” is supposedly about empowering shorter girls (by shorter, the show means under five-foot-nine). But this week’s challenges seemed designed to destroy their self-esteem. First, after being coached by Miss J. and a 9-year-old model named Diva Divanna, the girls had to do a runway walk alongside much taller models. Brittany won, and picked Laura and Kara to share her prize, a shoot for an advertorial in Seventeen magazine. Between tasks, Bianca got depressed (she blamed it on having been in an abusive relationship), and Ashley became the house’s head mean girl, with Lulu as her assistant mean girl. At an odd workroom-playground set, Tyra told the girls that they had to pose so they looked tall (again, reinforcement of bad self-image). They all put on ridiculously high-heeled shoes and had their hair teased into lofty pompadours. This time Brittany did poorly, looking shorter than she actually is, and the judges put her and Lulu in the bottom two. When Lulu was sent home, the camera showed Ashley crying. No worries: If this show stays true to form, Ashley will be allowed to continue inflicting pain for a few more episodes.
In a tribute to the recently departed Frenchman Mattin, the contestants on “Top Chef” tied on red scarves. Then most of them proceeded to trash Robin for her lack of cooking skills. Surprise! Robin won the quickfire challenge, judged by Michelle Bernstein, a James Beard Award-winning chef. Each contestant was to create a dish representing a culinary battle between virtue and temptation (another Las Vegas-themed challenge). Robin had said that her dish of salad and apple crisp alluded to her own struggle with cancer. After the magicians Penn and Teller revealed how to do a trick, the chefs learned the elimination challenge: to deconstruct a classic dish. Kevin won with his version of chicken mole negro. Ron lost with a dry but not crisp paella. To be fair, Ron didn’t seem to have a clue what “deconstruct” meant; even at the end of the episode, most viewers probably didn’t either.
The season premiere of “The Amazing Race” opened with a new twist: One team didn’t even get to start the race. The 12 pairs were asked to spot a particular type of Japanese license plate from a wall of plates; Eric and Lisa, the married yoga instructors, came in last and weren’t allowed to head to the airport and fly to Tokyo. En route, Maria and Tiffany, two professional poker players, told the others they worked with homeless people; Sam and Dan, the two gay brothers, didn’t out themselves so they could flirt with the women. In a sequence that seemed lifted from ABC’s “I Survived a Japanese Game Show,” the racers went to a TV studio, where one member of each team played “sushi roulette”; he or she had to eat a big wasabi roll when it came up on the wheel and then lead a group of audience members to the finish line. Many racers were still eating when Meghan and Cheyne, the clean-cut young dating couple, won. Maria and Tiffany came in last after losing two of their audience members. Though it turned out to be a non-elimination round, they would have to suffer a time penalty and perform another challenge in the next episode, which started immediately. The teams flew to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, which was flooded, then took buses to a village, where, as is typical with this show, everyone caught up with each other. Maria and Tiffany, whose lie was exposed when a Japanese poker fan recognized them, had to make a bowl of Vietnamese soup, while the others headed to a farm, where the task was to fertilize a tree by piling mud around its trunk. Then one team member had to herd ducks into a pen. Zev, who has Asperger’s syndrome, turned out to be highly skilled at this, as did Matt, a 22-year-old with pink hair traveling with his father, Gary. The latter two finished first. The losers were Garrett and Jessica, an on-again, off-again couple, who seemed to have done irreparable damage to their relationship while she attempted to control the ducks and he shouted orders/suggestions. But according to reports, Garrett proposed to her after the elimination, and they’re engaged.
Evil Russell seemed unstoppable on the second week of “Survivor: Samoa.” First he found the immunity idol without even getting the usual clues and managed to sneak it right past the others by stuffing it in his pants. (Do you think the “Survivor” host, Jeff Probst, will wear gloves when Russell turns it in?) There was only one challenge, perhaps so the producers could give the villain more screen time. The two tribes, Foa Foa and Galu, faced off in what was essentially full-contact three-ball basketball. The action became so violent that Probst warned the players to fight fair; soon after that, he kicked out Ben, a Foa Foa member, for playing dirty, the first such expulsion in the show’s history. Galu won easily after that; besides immunity from elimination, they also got to send one person to stay with Foa Foa through tribal council; they chose Yasmin. But first 62-year-old Mike, the season’s oldest player, who was showing signs of heart failure, was pulled from the game. Arriving at the Foa Foa camp, Yasmin told the tribe members that she wanted to help them, but she just made them feel patronized. Although Ben antagonized everyone by chopping wood at night and calling Yasmin “ghetto trash,” the others decided that the season’s second oldest player, Betsy, was their weakest link, and they voted her out. Russell, who had butted heads with Betsy earlier, said it was his own skill at manipulation that was the deciding factor.