Archive for the ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Category

True winner of ‘Dancing’ got no trophy

May 20, 2009

For those who truly care about dancing — not personality, popularity, nationality, etc. — our mantra today should be “It just doesn’t matter.” That’s right, the glitzy, silly mirror ball trophy for winning Dancing With the Stars just doesn’t matter. I mean, it’s not like the winner gets a Survivor-ish cool mill, or even a Biggest Loser-ish quarter mill, but rather the trophy and quite often the knowledge, in their heart of hearts, that they made it over the top due to (1) undiscerning voters who are clueless about true dancing artistry and (2) a rigged, fixed, phony process set up by collusion, not honesty, among judges.

That, of course, is the only way to accept last night’s absurd verdict giving pint-sized, teen-aged, ‘way too wet behind the ears, utterly lacking a dancer’s body and totally out of her depth Shawn Johnson the mirror ball trophy over not only the most worthy winner among them all, Gilles Marini, but even third place finisher Melissa Rycroft — not to mention Lil Kim.

The tally, we were told, separated the top two by less than one per cent. And that tally, despite the “suspense” of one more dance Tuesday, was set in stone as of Monday night, given the fact that viewer votes already were in as of Monday, and the fact that the judges generously gave Shawn perfect 10s to match Gilles’ Tuesday, ensuring that nothing changed between nights. The show’s producers were well aware that Shawn wouldn’t win unless the judges inflated her scores, so they did. In a close viewer vote, that doomed Gilles to runnerup status despite AN ENTIRE SEASON OF EXCELLENCE. All it would have taken to reward his artistry would have been another well deserved point or two separating him from Shawn via judges’ scores, but the show, the producers, the judges, and the fix had to have Shawn as the winner, for whatever reason, and Gilles had to lose — make that “lose.”

Was it lack of a fan base? Perhaps. Anti-French sentiment? That would be pathetic; it’s one of the greatest countries in the world, and Gilles was a ceaselessly humble gentleman. Gotta give it go the kid so she won’t cry? Maybe. I dunno. But whatever the basis for the fix, it reeked. Then again — all together with me now — “It just doesn’t matter.”

Of course, DWTS has had plenty of such stumbles, starting with its first season, when Kelly Monaco was declared the winner by still more judging arbitrariness despite strong sentiment and suspicion that her vote, too, was pre-ordained — so much so that she and the runnerup, John O’Hurley, had a “dance off” down the line to satisfy the disgruntled. So this was just one more reeking rig job to join a long list.

The public vote I can’t fault. People often vote their hearts, not their heads, and if they wanted to disregard Gilles’ consistent artistry (and such bearing on the floor — such a presence) in favor of a kid with a win-or-die mindset of entitlement which won’t serve her well in the real world, post-Olympics and rigged dance shows, then so be it. The public’s not required to vote based on any one thing. But the judges should be, and that one thing is called dancing artistry. So it’s the judges’  juggling of scores to fix the final results that distresses me, as it so often has on DWTS. But again, it just doesn’t matter.

That being the case, I’m done for another season — but I’ll be back next fall. Regardless of the winner (and remember, it just doesn’t matter), DWTS is good, frothy entertainment for a Monday night, Tom Bergeron is perhaps the best TV host ever and I enjoy seeing desperate has-beens and never-weres trying to prop up their careers via rumbas and waltzes. The fact that so little really is at stake makes it a low-pressure contest, and for sheer spectacle, it’s good TV, pure and simple, even if the inner-workings taint it at times.

So Shawn,  go ahead — go enjoy your trophy and put it next to your Olympic gold. But believe me, plenty of people who genuinely appreciate dance know who truly earned it.

Melissa Rycroft to face Gilles Marini — count on it

May 12, 2009

In case you had any doubts, Monday’s performance show should have sealed the deal:Former Bachelor star and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft will face French actor/underwear model Gilles Marini in Dancing With the Stars’ final two — after they get past the “finals” nonsense with three contestants early in next week’s show. (“Finals,” by definition, should mean the final two.) Count on it.

I’ve been saying this all season — as maybe you have too — and now we’re about to be proven right.

If you doubt it, let me know. But I doubt that you do. Whoever goes tonight, and then whoever goes early next week, Shawn and Ty are toast — Texas toast, in his case. That’s life among the bouncing disco ball trophies.

Now, as to whom will win, I’d prefer Gilles — the better dancer — but I’m betting Melissa — the sentimental crowd favorite with the built-in fan base from a show which aired on this same network. But you never know in show biz.

Judges inflate Melissa Rycroft’s score, but she wasn’t alone

May 5, 2009

I’ve often felt that the judging panel on Dancing With the Stars was about as fair, unbiased and accurate as the Soviet officials who allowed the USSR to steal a gold medal for basketball from the U.S. at the 1972 Olympic Games. Monday night was one of those nights.

Granted, Ty is tailor-made for a buh-bye on tonight’s results show, and anything else after that doesn’t really matter. Melissa, Gilles, Lil’ Kim and Shawn are destined for next week’s semi-finals, no matter how they got there or in what order. Then, it’s anyone’s game — or disco ball trophy.

But the judges’ generous scores for Melissa Monday hint that some sort of fix is in, perhaps with a nudge from ABC, which has a two-time reality show star on its hands — a star who’s getting lots of magazine ink each week. And after her jilting on The Bachelor, don’t we all want Melissa to be cut some slack, especially since she’s being such a trouper and dancing in pain with her cracked rib?

But really, fans, if you think Melissa was worthy of a combined 57 out of 60 score Monday night, and that she’s the cream of Dancing’s crop, try going back to check out such sensational femme dancers of seasons past as Stacy Keibler, or even low-finisher Lisa Rinna or tainted season one winner Kelley Monaco. And Lil’ Kim, as much as I distrust her, clearly gives Melissa a run for her money. The former jailbird (and proud of it) has been brilliant in recent weeks and even could inch her way into the final two. Shawn? Despite her own ridiculously inflated scores from the judges, fuhgetaboutit.

If anything, I’m even expecting a Lil’ Kim-Melissa Rycroft finale, though this show would work better with a male-female face-off, that being Gilles and either of these ladies (er, women–I forgot about Lil’ Kim momentarily). And judges aside, the public has half the vote, so whomever wins, wins. No amount of judges’ fixing can fix the public’s say, in a year when even Simon Cowell seems to be having little impact on Idol.

Melissa, I’ve loved many of your dances, I’m a fellow Texan, and I’m for you. But you still have to earn it, judging aside. Of course, the same goes for everyone.

That said, this season’s best non-pro dancer, Gilles, disappointed this week, in large part due to the pre-set choreography, not his effort. Of course, now he has room to peak in the final weeks.

And at least the field is being whittled down properly, unlike past years, when overrated dancers like Jerry Rice lasted far longer than they deserved. Whatever happens, it should be an entertaining finish, fix or no fix.

Melissa Rycroft a no-show, but ‘Dancing With the Stars’ goes on

April 28, 2009

No Melissa? No way! Fortunately, that wasn’t the way Monday’s Dancing With the Stars turned out, after Melissa Rycroft’s surprise non-appearance in the opening strut down the staircase. She’s got a hairline fracture in her rib cage, and she’s out this week. But apparently she can return next week.

At least, that’s the hope, given her stellar dancing and this show’s desperate need to keep its celeb hoofers on their feet. Does any reality TV competition suffer so much attrition as Dancing With the Stars? In part it’s because non-dance pros are asked to do difficult dances in a pressurized, highly competitive environment, and they train too hard and try to do too much. Clearly, adjustments should be made, such as allowing these contestants to dance into shape farther in advance of the show’s debut date.

But beyond that, if I were running this show, I’d cram the cast with at least two more celeb dancers. Then, if any fell by the wayside, as Steve-O almost did and now Melissa might do, I’d be covered — and if they didn’t, I’d have double-elimination weeks toward season’s end.

Since that’s not the case, we’re stuck with the mockery of having judges score a taped rehearsal performance, as they did with Steve-O earlier and with Melissa and Tony last night.

This was a disaster on many counts. First, no one is going to give their all in a rehearsal, and there’s no crowd to feed off of, and Melissa and Tony weren’t even in costume, and their routine was, at best, tepid. Then the judges kept insisting that they HAD to judge it as if they were performing right then and there with the place packed, and I kept thinking, say what? No, you allow for the fact that it’s a rehearsal. And clearly they did, anyway, by virtue of scores which would have been exceedingly generous had Melissa and Tony delivered such a performance live during the telecast. A lot of people try very hard and don’t get better than a 21.

But what really bugged me was the judges hammering home how bad they were because it was just a rehearsal, and never acknowledging that a good part of that reason, clearly, was that Melissa was in pain. Instead of noting how she was a trouper, they ignored that. Gimme a break. But at least viewer votes should save her for another week.

I did think Melissa got one unfair advantage, in that she still got the same aggregate score as two other couples for her “team” dance, for which Lacey (talk about troupers!) did a superb job as stand-in. I mean, at least with the rehearsal, Melissa did perform. Here, she did nothing, yet she got credit for a score. Explain that to me. It seems awfully unfair to the other dancers. But what else was the show to do? Either they score her or she’s out of the competition, and ABC didn’t want that.

Of course, neither do I, so here’s hoping Melissa returns in fine form next week — perhaps with one of those injections which helped Gilles so much. And speaking of the Frenchman, thank goodness for the team tango, to take the foul taste of his Lil Abner goofiness away. Great, Bruno — Gilles can be funny, though I’d call it oafishly hammy instead. But I’d rather see him dance with style, grace and sophistication. He’ll definitely be in the Finals, and if Melissa can’t make it, look out for Lil’ Kim. She’s cresting, and she has the best pro dancer as a partner in Derek.

But no matter how much she impresses, the thought of this former jailbird (and the story behind that) grabbing the trophy galls me. So get well, Melissa. We need you — and so does Dancing With the Stars.

Melissa Rycroft tangos to the top on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

April 21, 2009

I’ve often carped about the phoniness of some judges’ scores on Dancing With the Stars. In fact, I still do. (We’ll get to that later.) But with one vote on Monday’s show I’m in total agreement: Melissa Rycroft and Tony’s saucy, sexy and ever so stylish tango definitely earned top marks for the night, which they got, with a 29. If you had any doubts that Melissa will make the finals (meaning, the final two contestants–but you never know on TV, where some shows fudge and group three or more contestants in their “finals”), then this should dispel it. She’s in it for the distance and the long haul. And don’t mess with Texas!

But in other scores, what a bore. I mean, Shawn Johnson was so far out of her league in a trite routine where partner Mark did all the dazzle, yet they got a 28? Puhleeze. And Chuck/Julianne matched Gilles/Cheryl with a 27? I guess all you have to do is demand a score (as Chuck did, insisting on a “nine”) and you’ll get it–from every judge, in fact. But if they truly think the Chuckster was as good as Gilles, these judges are sipping the wrong Kool-Aid.

On another note, the music choices again were superb, with a glaring exception in the “what was that?” song they chose to represent the 1960s in the largely leaden group dance. Regardless of when it was composed (and I’m not so sure it was the ’60s), this song sounded about as ’60s as today’s generic dance music. And the routine itself seemed less inspired by the ’60s — the true ’60s — than by Austin Powers movies, which are really the ’60s once removed and also distanced by parody. News flash: The absolute biggest dance craze of the ’60s was the Twist, and there wasn’t one sign of it. There was a lot of Pulp Fictiony dancing (again, the ’60s once removed), but no twisting. Pathetic.

But the ’60s did supply one grand musical moment: When Gilles and Cheryl performed to the little known gem by Ray Davies of the Kinks called I Go to Sleep. What a beautiful song. Cher also sang this back in the day, the Kinks also recorded it (of course) and the Pretenders also covered it. Great song, and not a cliched choice. Kudos.

So there you have it: a two-person race between Melissa and Gilles. Phony judging aside, you can bank on it. You can count on it. When the finals come, it’s gonna happen. Now where are those Chubby Checker records? I feel a Twist coming on.

Melissa Rycroft’s ‘If I Were a Boy’ dance works wonders on ‘Dancing With the Stars’

April 14, 2009

Finally, romance is back on Dancing With the Stars, and much of the credit goes to last night’s song choices. That starts with Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy, played over Melissa Rycroft and Tony’s borderline rumba.

Yes, Bruno, it could have been more carnal, but isn’t mere carnality rather banal and cliched by today’s jaded standards? How about some true grace, emotion and soulfulness, which this song and its lovely rendition displayed big-time? You don’t get that every day. You do get pelvic thrusts. Gimme the mush.

Indeed, not since week one’s Moon River has Melissa evoked such tender feelings, and this approach well suits her. She didn’t become America’s sweetheart for her heartbreak on The Bachelor to come on Dancing With the Stars and act like a randy pole dancer on uppers. Of course, what would Bruno know about romance, or how could he understand the lyrics to If I Were a Boy? The man is utterly clueless. But I get it, and I’ll take it.

So thanks, Melissa. And thanks to the person who wrote this awesome song, a rare melding of strong melody with strong lyrics. Together, dance and song worked wonders, and it’s nice to see such artistry and heart, not just ballroom showboating, on Dancing With the Stars.

Melissa Rycroft, Gilles Marini clearly lead ‘Dancing With the Stars’

March 17, 2009

If you were ready to crown Melissa Rycroft winner of Dancing With the Stars new season after one episode, just because she’s got all that good karma comin’, think again. Monday’s second full-bore performance show showed that it’s now a two-person race, and the leader in the pecking order (based on judges’ scores and how couples are slotted) is now French model — er, actor — Gilles Marini, who again performed sensationally with champion partner Cheryl Burke.

Gilles may not be well known in this country, beyond his buff-baring cameo in the Sex and the City film, but he is this show’s best “star” dancer so far, hands — or pecs — down. Of course, it’s still early, and Melissa still has had precious little time to rehearse. But I’m fully expecting these two to be the final two when the show winds down and the hype heats up in May.

Besides, Melissa can’t remove her top (what there is of it) like Gilles, who will seize any opportunity to bare himself, as he did in Monday’s behind-the-scenes footage. Shameless! But give the guy credit — he can dance. And the green-themed song choice — fantastic — with 3 Doors Down’s edgy Kryptonite and Gilles in Clark Kent nerd glasses and suit, which he ripped open (the guy just can’t help himself) to reveal a “G”-emblazoned superhero costume at the finish. Now that was a quick-step, not yielding to ballroom tradition, but kicking up heels with energy and creativity.

Melissa and Tony’s salsa was also grand in its own way, but the look didn’t do her any favors, and after last week’s sublimely romantic waltz to Moon River, it was an emotional let-down. Still, she’s in this for the long haul — and take that, wishy-washy Bachelor loser Jason. Your spurn spawned a star — the second, of course, to come from The Bachelor to Dancing With the Stars, in a smart bit of network synchronity (after Trista Sutter, who was nowhere near Melissa’s league). (In a further coincidence, both Bachelor alums on Dancing also were pro sports cheerleaders. Must be something in the water.)

At any rate, expect Steve-O to go home tonight after the weirdness of watching his tepid rehearsal footage as a substitute (a Dancing first, based on the “rules’ — yes, the rules they just wrote) when a pre-show injury kept him from performing. At this rate, perhaps Samantha will trip over her own outta control tongue (can you spell “enunciate”?) and go on the injured list, too. Well, we can only hope.

Meanwhile, bring it on, Gilles and Melissa. You’re the cream of this show’s crop, and you’ve gotta lot of dancin’ to do.

Chelsie and Melissa grace ‘Dancing With the Stars’

March 10, 2009

Like surely many fans of So You Think You Can Dance, I’m stoked that the summer show’s Chelsie Hightower is now getting the enormous audience she deserves by being a professional dancer paired with a “star” (the term is often loosely applied) on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars.

The downside is that Chelsie’s partner is stiff as a board and dull as dust cowboy Ty Murray. Even while reigning it in and toning it down, Chelsie couldn’t help but dance rings around the aw-shucks slow-poke cow poke on Monday’s premiere, while Murray’s wife Jewel — who’d have competed against him with another partner — watched wanly from the audience, having been sidelined by an injury.

Due to Murray, not Chelsie, I’m think this pair won’t last long on this edition of DWTS, and that’s probably why Jewel was front-loaded onto next week’s debut results show without any delay. She’ll be performing, while he may be saying “Happy trails” as he saunters into the sunset. (Then again, he wasn’t the only lackluster dancer on a largely impressive opening night.)

But Chelsie, we love you — at least, I know I do, as you were the catalyst for the most-read blog entry I’ve ever written on this site. Your theatrical hip-hop performance of Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love with partner Mark Kanemuraxx on last summer’s So You Think You Can Dance for Fox was as good as any dance I’ve seen on ABC’s often phony ratings juggernaut, and you well earned your place on this far more widely watched show — even if it doesn’t extend beyond the second week’s roundup.

And while we’re singing Chelsie’s praises despite her dance-challenged Texas pahd-ner, let’s salute another Texan who stepped up big-time last night: Melissa Rycroft, aka, the woman who was cruelly jilted on ABC’s The Bachelor in what was either (1) a ratings stunt, (2) a coldly calculated career move by an actor-wannabe bachelor, or (3) a horrendous personal injustice given the emotional enormity of the situation — and maybe all three.

All of that — and just over two days’ rehearsal — didn’t stop Melissa from performing superbly by displaying her ballet-training grace alongside veteran pro partner Tony Dovolani. Like The Girls Next Door star Holly Madison, Melissa was asked to join the cast last-minute when two contestants dropped out due to injury, the other being Nancy O’Dell of Access Hollywood.

O’Dell fittingly gave Melissa a standing ovation — despite a cast on her leg — as the Bachelor’s loss became Dancing’s gain. While Chelsie and Ty may not last long, I’m thinking Melissa and Tony will stick around for quite awhile. Give her some rehearsal time, and this spirited former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is going to give us all something to really cheer about.

You see, there is life after The Bachelor. In fact, DWTS may make Melissa a far bigger star than The Bachelor has ever done for any of its shameless, fame-hungry contestants.

What a concept: Even in Hollywood, there can be poetic justice.