It was two-for-one night on the elimination episode of “Dancing With the Stars.” The actress Debi Mazar got the lowest combined vote from the judges and viewers and was sent home. And Tom DeLay, the former House Republican majority leader, eliminated himself after having danced through a stress fracture on Monday night’s performance show.
This week’s episodes were unusual for several reasons. Perhaps heated up by the sexy Latin dances everyone performed, both Kelly Osbourne and Donny Osmond kissed a fellow cast member: Kelly planted one on her professional partner, Louis van Amstel, and Donny kissed the show’s flamboyant judge Bruno Tonioli after being told his rumba was “a bit airy-fairy at times.”
And the bottom dropped out of the judges’ scores. Last week, when the director Baz Luhrmann temporarily replaced the irascible Len Berman, no one scored below an 18. This week, four couples did, thanks largely to Len’s jaw-droppingly low scores.
Paula Abdul, who evidently has time on her hands, was at Monday night’s show. While being interviewed by the host, Tom Bergeron, she told the judge, “Len Goodman, you’ve become Len Badman.” Then she pointed out that Donny had become “delusional” (she should know), adding that she and the show’s female judge, Carrie Ann Inaba, “should start making out.”
Here’s how the judges ranked the dancers’ performances on Monday:
Mya and Dmitry Chaplin: 27
Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo: 26
Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough: 23
Aaron Carter and Karina Smirnoff: 21
Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson: 21
Kelly Osbourne and Louis van Amstel: 20
Louie Vito and Chelsie Hightower: 20
Melissa Joan Hart and Mark Balas: 19
Mark Decascos and Lacey Schwimmer: 18
Chuck Liddell and Anna Trebunskaya: 17
Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 17
Tom DeLay and Cheryl Burke: 15
Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova: 14
Continuing the systematic approach of last week, Tom Bergeron announced that the four lowest-scoring men would learn whether they were at risk of elimination first.
The first to hear was Tom DeLay, who had been the focus of too much of Monday night’s show, which tried to build up suspense about whether he would dance despite his injured foot. In the process we learned that he had also hurt his other foot, and that his doctors and the show’s producers advised him to sit the week out. But as DeLay put it, “What’s a little pain when you can party?” His actual samba was remarkable not because it was done well but because it was done at all. Looking as stiff and cautious as a father of the bride (if the father of the bride were wearing a flashy shirt with a Republican elephant on the back and the bride were Cheryl Burke in a ballroom dress with a Democratic donkey on the back), he kept his dignity. The judges praised him for being a trouper, but Bruno pointed out that they had to score him on what they saw. Carrie Ann Inaba gave him 6, Len a 4 (ouch!) and Bruno a 5. The viewers, however, gave him enough votes to keep him dancing another week.
But after a segment in which the celebrities talked about their first impressions of the show and of the other dancers, Tom Bergeron and his cohost, Samantha Harris, brought DeLay center stage. Saying that his injuries made it impossible for him to rehearse, DeLay resigned, although he said he may return to perform the dance he was meant to do next week, a Texas two-step.
The lowest-scoring couple, the former NFL star Michael Irvin and Anna Demidova, at least looked like they were enjoying themselves on Monday doing the samba. But as Bruno pointed out, Michael was hitting the wrong foot throughout, and as Carrie Ann pointed out, he was dancing too small for such a big guy, and as Len pointed out, it deserved a 4. (Bruno and Carrie Ann gave 5’s.) Michael and Anna were the first couple told they were at risk of elimination.
The celebrity who got off the easiest this week was the hulking extreme fighter Chuck Liddell, whose dance with Anna Trebunskaya was rightly described by Bruno as “the samba from ‘Zombietown.’ ” He had been told he had to get in touch with his feminine side, so we saw him getting a pedicure with his daughter, and he started the routine wearing ruffly samba sleeves, which he quickly tore off. Since there was nothing to be praised in the dancing, the judges praised Chuck’s entertainment value. Bruno hedged his comment by adding, “But ‘Zombietown’ is a hit!” Just to keep the zombie happy, Len gave him a 5 and the others gave 6’s. Worse, this was the routine the judges chose to have reprised tonight.
The next celebrities to learn their status was the highest-scoring women.
The singer Mya and her partner, Dmitry Chaplin, provided some typical rehearsal-footage nonsense: She supposedly got them in the mood for their rumba by putting candles and rose petals in their practice space. Then they went and gave the best performance of the night. Mya looked as slinky and graceful as any of the pros, although Bruno seemed to have another kind of pro in mind when he praised her by shouting, “You put all of America in the mood for love! No price is too high for you!” He may have been overexcited after hearing Len’s quibbling; the old grouch thought the routine had too many tricks. Carrie Ann was so mesmerized she passed on her usual quibble and didn’t call Mya and Dmitry on a possible lift. In his most egregious example of low scoring, Len gave the couple a 7 to the other’s 10’s—the first perfect scores of the season. Bruno punctuated his 10 with his first fist pump of the season. Tonight, Mya and Dmitry were told they were safe.
Keeping in line with the week’s transgressive-sex theme, Alec Mazo decided that his celebrity partner, the Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin, needed instructions on how to heat up her rumba, so he had his wife, the recently eliminated pro Edyta Sliwinska, give her lessons, stressing the importance of eye contact. “I give her permission to go all out with my hasbend, Alec,” Edyta told the cameras. It’s unclear whether she gave Natalie wardrobe tips, but the swimmer came out wearing a barely there dress and a sparkly bra that were reminiscent of Edyta’s naughtier ensembles. Natalie swung her hips, extended her legs and played off Alec beautifully. Carrie Ann called it “gorgeous” and “wonderful” and ended with a serious of “woo” noises. Bruno raved, calling her a “sexy beast.” (Tonight, Natalie said, “I think he liked Donny a little bit more than me.”) Carrie Ann and Bruno gave the couple 9’s; Len, just because, gave them an 8. Fortunately, the viewers’ votes were enough to keep them out of danger.
They weren’t enough for the model Joanna Krupa and Derek Hough, even though Derek specifically choreographed their samba to appeal to Len, who’s a stickler for classic ballroom details. Derek swung on a rope onto the dance floor, and proceeded to outdance his partner throughout their routine. When he wasn’t drawing attention away from her, she sometimes seemed a bit tentative. Bruno and Carrie Ann were happy, though Bruno called Joanna on “a couple of unsteady footwork.” Len said, “It had quality stamped all over it,” but added that it didn’t need quite so many of his favorite moves. He and Bruno gave the couple 8’s; Carrie Ann gave them a 7.
Next to learn their fate were Donny Osmond, this season’s “showbiz legend,” and his partner, Kym Johnson. He joked about the absurdity of him playing a Latin lover, but their rumba was smooth. Len advised him to keep his legs flexed, then Bruno gave his “airy-fairy” comment, adding, “It looked pretty, a bit like ‘Swan Lake.’ ” That’s when Donny crossed the floor to kiss Bruno, who, trying to finish his point, said, “Turn to the dark side.” Donny took this as an invitation to plant another kiss on Bruno, dipping him back. “Do it again!” said the overexcited judge. After crossing back to join Kym, Donny said, “I don’t think they’re going to let me back in Utah anymore.” Both Carrie Ann’s comments and the judges’ scores (straight 7’s) got lost in the confusion, but Donny and Kym were told they were safe tonight. Also tonight, when Kym expressed mild disgust at the thought of kissing Bruno, Donny said, “I’ve had my shots.”
The pro snowboarder Louie Vito and his partner, Chelsie Hightower, have been talking about their “chemistry,” which, on this show, means “we’re secretly in love.” She teased him for being so suspiciously knowledgeable about the rumba, “the sexiest dance.” He said he hoped they could do five rumbas. Despite his supposed knowledge and his willingness to slick his hair back, Louie did nothing on the floor. Chelsie swung and twisted around him like a pole dancer. Trilling his r’s, Bruno shouted, “Randy Louie: grown up, turned on and ready to rumba.” Carrie Ann said she and Bruno had been squealing throughout the routine. Len, spot on for once, said the routine was hectic and lacked finesse. Carrie Ann gave the couple an 8, Len a 5 (cue boos from the audience) and Bruno a 7. The audience loved them, and apparently so did the viewers.
For his rumba, the former preteen idol Aaron Carter was told by his partner, Karina Smirnoff, that he had to “work on the sexy stare.” Then she said, “You’re overdoing it.” Aaron has seemed either out of it or overcommitted throughout the season. The judges had mixed reviews. Carrie Ann and Len agreed that Aaron had to work on his extensions. Karina said they had been worried because Len was giving out 5’s. He gave them a 6, to Carrie Ann’s 8 and Bruno’s 7, and tonight they were put in the at-risk group
Mark Decascos, the “chairman” of “Iron Chef America,” and his partner, Lacey Schwimmer, were the first couple to perform the steamy rumba on Monday, but all Mark could manage was the appearance of competence. Len allowed that the dance is tough for male amateurs, but said the performance was “on the hard side.” All three judges faulted the pair for failing to show any chemistry, and Carrie Ann said Mark needed to find his sensuality. Decascos said he was nervous because his wife was floorside and “she’s watching me go for Lacey.” The judges didn’t go for that excuse and gave him straight 6’s. “One more reason to stay with your wife,” said Samantha Harris enigmatically.
The last group to hear of their elimination status tonight were the three lowest-scoring female celebrities.
The actress Debi Mazar and Maksim Chmerkovskiy had been in the bottom two last week, even though they were ninth from the bottom in the judges’ ranking; she claimed this upped her motivation. Maks brought in a former “DWTS” dance partner with whom he had a more functional relationship, the Spice Girl Mel B., who said that she and Maks had “fun fights.” Maks gave Debi a flower at the beginning of their samba, which they danced to “Love Is in the Air.” She bounced along gamely, always a split second behind him. Carrie Ann called the routine “just a hair safe,” though she “liked the way it built.” “What you did you did well,” said Len. Bruno said, “You don’t work it.” Len gave her a 5 to the others’ 6’s; Bruno accompanied his vote with a shrug that foreshadowed her possible elimination tonight. Debi was the last person to learn she was at risk.
The girl who last week was introduced as a “reality star” but this week as a singer, Kelly Osbourne, was working the sympathy vote, having teared up after blowing last week’s tango. Her partner, Louis van Amstel, told her, “You’re not alone on this journey,” and she bucked up. Their samba, danced inappropriately to Lady Gaga’s “Love Games” (“I wanna take a ride on your disco stick”), was a combination of occasional good technique and nanoseconds of panic. Their samba walks were nicely executed. Both Len and Carrie Ann said they believed Kelly could be a good dancer, if she could be confident and stay focused. Bruno noticed “a couple of stambles.” As usual Len voted lower than his colleagues, giving a 6 to their 7’s. Tonight, Kelly said that she and Louis kissed because each of them had dared the other to do it.
After the actress Melissa Joan Hart and her partner, Mark Balas, were told that their jive last week was out of control, she decided to play it safe. Her footwork on this week’s samba was more precise, but the nervousness showed. All the judges cited her faulty rhythm, and Carrie Ann Inaba said, “I just don’t believe it when you dance. I still sense the fear.” Carrie Ann and Len’s 6’s were greeted with boos, which ended when Bruno announced his 7.
In the last minutes of the show, the four “at risk” couples were moved center stage. Aaron and Joanna were quickly told that they weren’t in the bottom two, which raises the question whether they had received particularly low totals of viewers’ votes or whether they were just named as possible eliminees to throw us off the scent of the eventual loser.
Len pointed out that both Michael and Debi had danced the samba, which is a tough dance, but he’d said the same thing about the rumba. When Debi was told she was going, she made a slight attempt to come up with some enthusiasm about the experience and Maks, but she basically showed the lack of connection with the experience that was reflected in the viewers’ votes.
The best Tom Bergeron could come up with to send her off was asking her how her last name is pronounced. Once again, she didn’t seem to care.
The show’s resourceful music director, Harold Wheeler, found another ironic last-dance song for the departing performers. Tom and Debi shuffled off to “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”
To fill out tonight’s episode, there was an unfunny segment about how to predict who will win the season and an entertaining performance by a masked dance troupe called JabbaWockeeZ. Queen Latifah sang two songs, but Cheryl Burke and Maks, unfettered by their celebrities, totally stole the spotlight from her with their dancing.
As if to remind us that not all eliminations are as predictable as Debi’s, Tom Bergeron announced that the returning star who will perform in this year’s viewer-voted “design-a-dance” number is Sabrina Bryan, a member of the Cheetah Girls who suffered a shockingly early departure in season 5, thanks to those same voting viewers.
This week’s episode of “Jon & Kate Plus Eight” could have been seen as a backdoor pilot for the version of the show that will be titled “Kate Plus Eight” if all the lawsuits ever get settled. As Kate worked with professional “organizers” to sort out the boxes stored in the basement, Jon was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately for fans, it was also the dullest episode in recent memory, although viewers could glean some insights into the reasons Kate may not have been so easy to live with. “I’m the only one who cares about organization,” she told the cameras, “and everyone else is trying to sabotage me.” She kept screeching or cooing about how excited she was to meet her “true love,” a label machine. Her former true love came up only obliquely: Kate and the organizers threw his stuff into a “Jon box,” and Kate concluded the episode by saying, “Yeah, I could use some junk-cleaning-out in my life, so maybe this was symbolic. But I’m not done yet.”
Like many “Project Runway” episodes featuring a team challenge, this week’s demonstrated the benefits of undermining one’s supposed collaborator. It opened with the four remaining guy contestants deciding that they had to get rid of some of the girls. The designers were given one day to create two looks using blue, both of which would fit in with Macy’s Inc line; the winner would get to design a holiday dress for the store. The five team leaders were chosen on the basis of a sketch, and sure enough, four were women; Christopher was the only male. Nicolas, who had immunity from winning last week, spent the day dragging his heels and doing interviews in which he badmouthed his team leader, Louise. Michael Kors returned to the judging panel with his trademark zingers; he was joined by a Macy’s representative and Zanna Roberts, a fashion editor at Marie Claire. Although one of Althea and Logan’s skirts kept rising up, they were told they were safe. The top two teams were girl-girl pairs: Carol Hannah (the team leader) and Shirin were praised for creating two good tops. Irina (team leader) and Gordana, despite some bickering, won the most praise for their night-out dress, and Irina won. Kors went to town on Christopher and Epperson for their “teal charmeuse disco pumpkin,” reducing Christopher to tears. But Louise’s two dresses, both of which featured ruffles that Nicolas had mocked relentlessly, were judged the worst. Kors said one “looks like a bridesmaid’s dress with a shower loofah ruched up the front of it,” and Louise was auf.
It was two product placements in one on this week’s “America’s Next Top Model.” After a makeup artists named Sam Fine taught the girls about the four basics (concealer, bronzer, mascara and gloss), Nigel Barker, the photographer and resident judge, and his wife, Crissy, told the girls that they had to race through a Walmart and seize a limited number of clothes, then do their own makeup, provided by CoverGirl. Erin kept elbowing other girls out of the way and basically playing dirty; only she, Bianca and Sundai made it in time to the finish line, where Crissy named Sundai the winner. After the other girls made Erin cry by criticizing her sportsmanship, they all went off to a photo shoot where Tyra photographed “beauty shots” of each one. Since beauty shots don’t show much of the body, they don’t put petite models at a disadvantage. To focus attention on their faces, the girls wore head scarves. Brittany pulled her scarf, which was translucent, over her face, and won first place; Jennifer screamed and came in second. The bottom two were Ashley, who had been difficult throughout the shoot, and Bianca, who produced her usual blank/hostile expression, despite Mr. Jay’s advice to think about Jesus. “Is Bianca the verb and not the noun?” asked Tyra. (In other words, she can model, but is she a model? Does that make it any clearer?) Bianca was sent packing.
The third episode of “Survivor: Russell” gave plenty of airtime to the show’s favorite villain, who nonetheless didn’t look quite as unstoppable as usual. Though Russell kept bragging about how well he was manipulating everyone in his tribe, Foa Foa, saying the others weren’t even playing the game, he actually didn’t make any particularly effective moves. Once again, the reward challenge and immunity challenge were combined into one, involving running past defenders through the water to collect big wooden cubes and then stacking them correctly. Galu won again, and that tribe’s leader, Russell S., chose comfort items over functional ones. He also got to choose one of his tribemates to spend the day with Foa Foa. Shambo went over and bonded with everyone except Foa Foa’s Russell, who, meanwhile, tried to get everyone to vote out Ashley, a member of his original “dumbass girl” alliance. He told Mick that he had found the immunity idol and told Ben that Ashley had been gunning for him. But everyone else was sick of Ben’s abrasive personality, and even Russell wound up joining the others in voting him out.
This week “The Amazing Race” centered on Ho Chi Minh City, where the engaged couple, Lance and Keri, had their own little Vietnam war. The teams had to grab their first clue from the mouth of a dragon “water puppet.” Some couples tried to dance in front of the puppets like snake charmers; others just grabbed the clue and ran. Then they could choose between doing “child’s play” or “word play,” the first being a challenge involving hauling an animal statue around a park while collecting balloons, the second being a letter-spotting and word-unscrambling puzzle. The old dating couple, Marcy and Ron, chose the latter and got confused, while the Harlem Globetrotters team surged ahead for a lead they would maintain for the rest of the day. Lance and Keri kept missing obvious clues while Lance kept getting angrier at her. In the next challenge—breaking down old electronic equipment—he whaled on his VCR as if he wished he were beating something else. Fortunately for Keri’s physical well-being, Marcy and Ron were even slower, and they were eliminated.