Here are the weekly Recaps from the Top Thirteen Couples to the Final Three:
Aloha DWTS Lovers!
And they're off! It wasn't as exciting as I imagined, but I'm sure this year's constellation of Stars will soon grow on me. I'm suffering from the "Expectations-Were-Too-High" syndrome: I was hoping the Stars would be better dancers. Alas, most are rookie beginners as usual. But it's fun to watch the Pros take a Star from Zero to Hero (in terms of Ballroom Dancing).
This weeks KEY CONCEPT: Fan Base or F.B.
Different from So You Think You Can Dance, which chooses it's Champ based MORE upon Dancing Skills, . . . DWTS Voting is notorious for Fan-Base Bias. So, remember this Key Concept as Season Seven progresses!
After the First Night of Competition: My Couple to Beat, and the Judges Highest Scorers: Brooke Burke and Derek Hough — Brunette Barbi & Ken.
Finally, the DWTS Judges are showing some restraint with their scoring; this after a many seasons of giving out artificially HIGH scores, often to create the illusion that the dance routine was better than reality.
It's refreshing to see a few 4, 5, and 6 scores deservedly given to below average performances. The Show is on the right track with their more realistic and honest judging approach. Mucho gracias . . . thank you very much DWTS!
Here's my Less to Best Ranking:
13 - JEFFREY ROSS — Edyta Sliwinska ** ( Judges Score: 12, Judges Rank #13 )
Jeffrey suffers from what most beginners do: a severe case of Frankenstein Klomping, and having his middle-age gut hanging out doesn't help either. NOTE TO COSTUME DESIGNERS: Put Jackets on a guys with protruding guts.
Note that 300 pound Warren Sapp was draped in something similiar to a Count Dracula cape: And THAT's what I'm talking about: Hide the Gut! Now what that a Foxtrot or a Cha Cha that Ross did? Can't remember . . . don't care! And neither should you: He's Gone!
DWTS Producers decided that after 7 straight seasons Edyta needed an early exit (in leau of just taking a year off). Good strategy! And it should work. Jeffrey Ross is the obvious choice for elimination after the first night of competition. His Fan Base can't be that strong. I say he's out! The Toastmaster General is . . . TOAST!
12 - SUSAN LUCCI — Tony Dovolani ( J-Score: 15, J-Rank #11 )
The Judges hit the nail on the head in their critique of Susan. She was too dainty and delicate in her dancing movements. Cha Cha requires more passion; hence, the Judges wanted the Daytime TV Queen to be more of a "slut." I've got a say: Susan did well for being 60 years old.
If she lasts very long in this competition, it won't be due to her dancing ability. We'll see what kind of F.B. she has (remember the Key Concept of the day?). Of course, "Fan Base" is the name of the game in DWTS. Every year, undeserving Stars move forward in the competition because their Fans adore them—even when they Dance Bad.
Marie Osmond comes to mind, she lasted a few weeks beyond what her dancing deserved. The NFL Football Stars seem to over-achieve as well, which I don't understand. Wouldn't the die-hard NFL Fan of Football be watching the Monday Night Game? Anyway, Emmit Smith came out on top over Mario Lopez—that's NOT right! And Jerry Rice came ahead of the Weapon of Mass Seduction: Stacy Keibler . . . that was sick and wrong!
But that's what FAN BASE does in the competition called "Dancing with The Stars."
11 - CLORIS LEACHMAN — Corky Ballas ( J-Score: 16, J-Rank #10 )
Cloris showed a fun, vibrant attitude—as well as TOO MUCH of her 82 year old Chest. At her age, Cloris just can't handle the long elegant strides of great Foxtrot technique. She was a prancer. But you've got to give her props for shaking her senior-citizen booty.
10 - TED MCGINLEY — Inna Brayer ( J-Score: 18, J-Rank #9 )
Ted was stiff, but I barely noticed. His part of this Foxtrot was . . . so snooze-worthy! I kinda forgot to watch the Star at all. Inna captured most of my attention (As all the Pros tend to do)! She's new this year, so it will be interesting how much F.B. (Fan Base) she can muster.
I'm thinking Ted's Star Power should not be a BIG as others.
9 - ROCCO DISPIRITO — Karina Smirnoff ( J-Score: 14, J-Rank #12 )
Rocco was a bouncing klomper. That's the bad news. The good news is that he had a pleasant, happy presentation in his Foxtrot. When it comes to Dancing Teaching and Dance Learning, you can't just say the magic words: "Be Smooth, Be Smooth" and expect it to be so—the muscle need to be trained! The Celebrity Chef was NOT smooth.
POTENTIAL WATCH: We'll see if determined dancing diva Karina can whip this Chef into shape! Len made a cute comment about Rocco's performance: "You dance like I cook: Chuck it all in and hope for the best!"
8 - CODY LINLEY — Julianne Hough ( J-Score: 18, J-Rank #7 )
Julianne Hough and her Star partner Cody, from Hannah Montana, were mercilessly perky—is that youthfulness or caffiene? The most interesting thing about the dance — other than how much Cody Montana looked like a Von Trapp Family member, from the Sound of Music — was Julianne’s dress. It kept the audience wondering if her naughty bits were going to fall out. Fantastic strategy: Keep audience eyes on Julieanne's outfit and away from Cody Montana's footwork.
Speaking of strategy, it appears that the Vibrance of Youth is part of the DWTS Marketing Strategy this year: They're going young with the addition of Pros, Inna and Lacey. And Cody is the youngest competitor to date. Tapping the Miley Cyrus / Hannah Montana Fan Base is pretty darn smart on the part of the DWTS Producers.
7 - MAURICE GREENE — Cheryl Burke ( J-Score: 18, J-Rank #8 )
They danced a schizophrenic Foxtrot: It was at one moment Funky, and then the next Fuddy Duddy. Maurice has so much soulful funk in him, that he just couldn't maintain ONE Foxtrot personality. What does that really mean, Dr Matt? Well, . . . I don't really know, but it sounded kinda clever, . . . so I wrote it.
Cheryl competes hard and well every year. Maurice has some physical skills—being fleet of foot! This couple should be the in the competitive mix for many weeks.
6 - KIM KARDASHIAN — Mark Ballas ( J-Score: 19, J-Rank #6 )
Some Pros have a knack for optimizing the skills of their Star. Mark is one of them. Besides being a fantastic dancer, he puts together choreography that gets produces the biggest BANG for the Buck!
In their practice session, I'm thinking "Kim Kardashian is NOT bringing much to the Ballroom Dancing Table." But when the curtain went up, Mark made her look much better than NON-dazzling dancing skills. Kim's Long Dress managed to hide most of her weak footwork and lacking leg action.
Did Mark come up with this Costume idea (to hide her worst assets and emphasize her best ones), or did the Costumers do this independently? Anyway, getting the audience focused upon Kim K's stronger attibutes was . . . a excellent strategy!
5 - WARREN SAPP — Kym Johnson ( J-Score: 21, J-Rank #5 )
The fearsome Quarterback Sacker was surprisingly put in the Pimp Spot? What's up with that? I expected that he might be pretty nimble with his foot work, and he was in spite of his 300 pound body. He was fun and charming and performed the Cha Cha pretty well . . . for a large kitchen appliance. But enough about Warren . . .
The saying goes: "Sex Sells." Could the DWTS Producers been anymore obvious in their presentation of the Kim Johnson Cleavage-Fest? Every camera angle of her became increasingly more explicit; until finally, Kim dresses down to a scant, tight, swim-suit-like outfit with fringe.
Playing the sensuality card works much better when MORE is left to the imagination! More clothes on Kim would have better balanced out Warren's visual WEIGHT. Maybe it's just me, but I'm thinkin: Too much Slut . . . and NOT enough Skirt! Kim, plaaaaaleeeee put some clothes on!
4 - TONI BRAXTON — Alec Mazo ( J-Score: 22, J-Rank #3 )
Toni shows a lot of dancing potential in this Cha Cha. It appeared she was over-thinking her choreography, and thus, failed to get in the moment with her partner. For me, the couple chemistry was lacking, but it has potential in future weeks.
Alec Mazo has won the Title of DWTS once before, BUT he's also been kicked to the curb TWICE after the very first night (both exits while dancing with babe-alicious models Josie Maran and Paulina Porizkova.
Since his first season success, Alec's appeal has been surpassed by the more youthful Pros: Mark Ballis, Julianne and Derek Hough. However, teamed up with a recording artist that has solid F.B., Alec and Toni are likely to do well.
3 - MISTY MAY-TREANOR — Maksim Chmerkovskiy ( J-Score: 21, J-Rank #4 )
Sometimes Mistay May looked feminine and elegant, and at other times she out-masculined the very macho Maksim. Which would be BAD. The judges offered her good advice in telling Misty to ease up on the aggression.
Misty May has skills! AND she brings in a BIG Olympic Fan Base! Plus, Maksim is a perfectionist slave driver when it comes to training a star!
In previous seasons, Maksim did a fantastic job of training Willa Ford to a 7th place finish in Season Three (Willa deserved a higher finish based upon her dancing, but was beat out by Sara Evan's superior Fan Base); a 3rd place finish in Season Four with Laila Ali; and a 2nd place finshish in Season Five with Mel B.
Teamed up with a very coordinated Olympian, DWTS Producers have poised Maksim to make a run for the Mirror-Ball Trophy!
2 - LANCE BASS — Lacey Schwimmer ( J-Score: 22, J-Rank Tie #2 )
Sizzling Hot Cha Cha Cha: Molten Lava Smoking Hot! Lance Bass is out of the starting blocks very fast with this fantastic performance.
A fresh new look for DWTS: young and contemporary. And that's why "traditional" Len didn't like it, but Carrie Ann and Bruno were ON BOARD in a big way! The Lance and Lacey introduces the BEST Couple Chemistry yet—fresh and edgey . . . me likee!
This couple will do very well, if crusty old codger Len doesn't undermine them first. Lance has solid F.B. via his Boy Band popularity, and Lacey has good name recognition from her final four finish on "So You Think You Can Dance."
1 - BROOKE BURKE — Derek Hough ( J-Score: 23, J-Rank #1 )
Topping all the performances of the evening: Brooke "Wild On" Burke and Derek "Ken Doll" Hough put together the best Cha Cha of the evening! (or was it a Foxtrot? I may have been looking at Brooke too much!). Whatever they did, it was good. Again, if Brooke were blonde, this couple would be totally . . . Barbi and Ken.
Derek Hough has done well with a previous attractive Stars: Shannon Elizabeth and a 6th place in Season Six, Jennie Garth and a 4th place finish in Season Five. In Season Seven, DWTS Producers have given Derek a partner that can contend to the finals—Brooke Burke. She has great looks and more dancing coordination than most, not to mention her two huge assets . . . a drooling Male Fan Base and support from Moms-of-America (what huge assets were you thinking of?)
The Couple with Bouquet Chemistry: Lance and Lacey
It's GOT TO BE . . . JEFFREY ROSS — he will be kicked to the curb after the first night! And that pretty much follows the elimination script layed out by the DWTS Producers. If there is a surprise beyond this, it will be a function of flagging Fan Base for a Star & Pro.
But with the Judges Low Score adding to the odds, I'm saying Jeffrey Ross is GONE—by no fault of his partner, the ever-sweet Edyta Sliwinska.
Season Seven OverView:
*** Derek and Brooke: The couple to beat after the first night!
Couples to Watch in Coming Weeks:
#1 - Derek & Brooke
Things will get more INTERESTING: Another performance on a 2nd consecutive night of competition, . . . and another elimination.
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Penn Jillette, Magician & Kym Johnson — 12th
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Josie Maran, Model & Alec Mazo — 12th
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Paulina Porizkova, Supermodel Alec Mazo — 11th
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Tucker Carlson, Political Pundit & Elena Grinenko — 1st couple eliminated
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Kenny Mayne, ESPN Sports Anchor & Andrea Hale — 1st couple eliminated
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Trista Rehn, The Bachelorette & Louis van Amstel — 1st couple eliminated
Here's a short BIO on each Star:
LANCE BASS - Lance Bass has sold over 50 million records as a member of the boy-band N' SYNC. He also executive produced and starred in a number of film and television projects. In 2002 he successfully trained to be a cosmonaut at Russia's Star City and was certified by both the Russian Space Program and NASA for a mission aboard a Soyuz capsule. Lance teams up with Lacey Schwimmer, the 2006 U.S. Youth Latin Champ and 2007 World Swing Dance Champ. Lacey Schwimmer make her series debut.
TONI BRAXTON - The winner of six Grammy Awards, Toni Braxton is a Billboard chart-topping singer and actress, selling over forty million records worldwide. Her U.S. number-one hit Un-Break My Heart is the second biggest single by a female artist in history. She has also appeared in two Disney Broadway shows: Beauty and the Beast and Aida. Dancing with the Stars marks her return to the spotlight after a six-month health hiatus. She teams up with season one champion, Alec Mazo, who returns for his fourth season.
BROOKE BURKE - Brooke Burke has graced numerous magazine covers, has her own top-selling swimsuit calendars, and is regularly ranked in men's magazines as one of the sexiest women in the world. Recognized worldwide as host of the hit travel series Wild On!, Brooke has also hosted several network series including: Rock Star INXS and Rock Star Supernova. Brooke is a mother of four. At her recently-launched website: BabooshBaby.com, she shares her secrets (and products) for getting back in shape after giving childbirth. Brooke teams with Derek Hough who returns for his third season.
ROCCO DISPIRITO - The James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef and author Rocco DiSpirito combines his world-class cooking with a passion for empowering home cooks. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Rocco opened the 3-star Union Pacific in New York City in 1997. Rocco will next appear on the A&E series, Rocco Gets Real, beginning in October, along with its companion cookbook, Rocco Gets Real: Cook at Home Every Day. He teams with Karina Smirnoff who returns for her fifth season. Karina teamed with R&B singer, Mario, last season.
MAURICE GREENE - The winner of two gold medals, in the 100m sprint and the 4x100m relay at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, track star Maurice Greene was dubbed the "World's Fastest Man" during his career. In addition to being the former world record holder in the 100m sprint, he also won silver and bronze medals at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. He is the current Indoor World Record holder in the 60m at 6.39 seconds. He teams up with two-time champion, Cheryl Burke, who returns for her sixth season.
KIM KARDASHIAN - Actress, model and reality television star, Kim Kardashian shot to stardom after the first airing of her hit E! reality series, Keeping up with the Kardashians. The series follows the exploits of Kim, her siblings, her mother Kris, and her stepfather, Olympic Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner. Kardashian recently completed her first feature film, Disaster Movie and will also be seen on The N's series Beyond the Break. She teams up with defending champ, Mark Ballas, who returns for his third season.
CLORIS LEACHMAN - Actress Cloris Leachman's storied career has been recognized with nine Emmys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award®. She has the distinction of being the only woman to win eight Primetime Emmy® Awards and one Daytime Emmy. Leachman has starred in a wide range of projects, creating such memorable characters as Phyllis in the TV series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein, Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety, and Ruth Popper in The Last Picture Show—for which she won an Oscar. She is currently touring the U.S. with her one-woman show CLORIS! She teams with World Latin Champion, Corky Ballas (Mark's father), who makes his series debut.
CODY LINLEY - Cody Linley is the youngest contestant to compete on Dancing with the Stars. He's best known for his role as "Jake Ryan" on the popular series Hannah Montana (on the Disney Channel)—a role he received a Young Artist Award nomination. Cody's film credits include My Dog Skip, HOOT, Miss Congeniality, and Cheaper By the Dozen. He teams with two-time Dancing with the Stars champ, Julianne Hough, who returns for her fourth season.
SUSAN LUCCI - Lucci is one of the most famous Daytime Television Divas, Lucci plays Erica Kane on All My Children—the sassy, sexy woman you love to hate. Susan won an Emmy Award for Best Actress. While competing on the show, she will continue her work on All My Children, and celebrate her 10,000th episode this November. She teams with Tony Dovolani who returns for his sixth season.
MISTY MAY-TREANOR - Beach Volleyball champion Misty May-Treanor and teammate Kerri Walsh captured their second Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and became the first team ever to repeat as back-to-back Olympic Champs. Misty was named Most Valuable Player in 2005 and 2006, Best Offensive Player in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and Best Defensive Player in 2006. She now has a new teammate, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who returns for his fifth season.
TED MCGINLEY - Actor Ted McGinley's extensive television credits include Married&with Children, Hope & Faith, Happy Days, recurring roles on the critically-acclaimed series The West Wing, Sports Night, Charlie Lawrence, Dynasty, and The Love Boat. He has also starred in such films as Pearl Harbor, Daybreak, Dick, Major League: Back to the Minors, Wayne's World 2, and the cult hit Revenge of the Nerds. Newcomer Inna Brayer will be paired with Ted. Inna is the current US Amateur 10 Dance Champion.
JEFFREY ROSS - Comedian Jeffrey Ross a.k.a. the "Roastmaster General," has delivered numerous show stopping performances at celebrity roasts honoring the likes of William Shatner, Hugh Hefner, Donald Trump, Pamela Anderson, Bob Saget and Emmitt Smith, inspiring New York Magazine to crown him The Meanest Man in Comedy. As a comic, Jeff has appeared on several late night and morning shows Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The View. Jeff teams with Edyta Sliwinska, who is the only pro to compete in all seven seasons of Dancing with the Stars.
WARREN SAPP - Recently retired defensive tackle, Warren Sapp, played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders during his 13 year career in the NFL. His 96.5 career sacks is the second-highest total for a defensive tackle. Warren and played in seven consecutive Pro Bowls, and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1999. In 2003, Warren played for the Super Bowl Winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He is teamed with Kym Johnson who returns for her fifth season.
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