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Dancing With the Stars Season Finale, May 22 May 23, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With the Stars”: The remaining competitors — Laila Ali, Joey Fatone and Apolo Anton Ohno — performed a dance of the judges’ choice as well as a freestyle dance. At the end of the evening, Ohno had the most number of points with 58 of 60, followed by Fatone with 56 and Ali with 55.

Tuesday: In an interminable two-hour season finale, each star repeated a dance from earlier in the season. Ohno and partner Julianne Hough performed their goosebump-generating paso doble. Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy performed the mambo. Fatone and partner Kym Johnson performed the “Star Wars Tango.” Ali and Fatone went out on proverbial limbs, as their dances did not receive perfect scores earlier in the season. All three duos predictably received perfect scores Tuesday.

Third place: Ali. She was the first one out Tuesday night, and took it, not so much gracefully, as wryly. She was entertaining in her departure.

Winner of Season 4: Ohno. He joins previous winners Kelly Monaco, Drew Lachey and Emmitt Smith. It was a coin toss, really, for whom would win. Both Fatone and Ohno were fantastic. Ohno — “the athlete” — perhaps showed the greatest improvement throughout the season. Fatone — “the showman” — was a crowd-pleaser every time he took the stage. Somebody said Fatone received more standing ovations than anyone, ever, on “Dancing With the Stars.” I don’t remember who, mind you, because my mind had gone numb from all the montages.

Analysis and Grade: C-. The finale could have been done, and should have been done, in one hour. We all know by now, I believe, that “Dancing With the Stars” is a runaway hit, and has been since its inception in America during summer 2005. The neverending montages — the history of the show, the previous three season, interviews with the final three competitors, and so on, and so on, zzzzzz — were tedious, ultimately. I know it was for a big build-up to whom would win, but I still think the show should have been one hour.
End note: And if you really love dancing shows, “So You Think You Can Dance” begins 8 p.m. Thursday on FOX!

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

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Dancing With the Stars, May 21 May 22, 2007

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Previously on “Dancing With the Stars”: Ian Ziering was voted out of the competition, preventing two-time winner Cheryl Burke from threepeating.

Monday night: The three finalists — Laila Ali, Joey Fatone and Apolo Anton Ohno — performed a dance of the judges’ choice and a freestyle dance.

Mixed messages: The judges chose the paso doble for Ali, and she performed much better than she did the first time. Her freestyle was upbeat and jivey, with moves bringing to mind Michael Jackson. The judges all along have said they wanted her to break out, but Monday they told Ali sophistication and elegance were her winning qualities, and those were absent in the freestyle dance. Uh — hello? Mixed signals, anyone? Ali wound up with a 55 of 60 for the evening.

Oh yes! for Ohno: Ohno performed the rumba for the judges’ selection. Personally, I agreed with judge Len Goodman: It was too fast and hectic, and Ohno and partner Julianne Hough lacked any sense of romance in the dancing. The freestyle, on the other hand, was ab fab. It was a hip hop routine where Ohno included some breakdancing moves he learned — and they were capital. The dance was energetic and fun-loving, and Ohno deserved the perfect score he received. For the evening, his grand total was 58 of 60.

Fabulous Fatone: Actually, Fatone, didn’t start out so fabulous with the judges, who chose a cha cha for him. Partner Kym Johnson choreographed way too much razzle dazzle — Fatone’s trademark — in to the routine, which caused him to lose points. But the freestyle — ah, the freestyle. Fatone and Johnson performed a lively number that incorporated a lot of the moves he learned throughout the competition. Judge Bruno Tonioli called him “Mr. Entertainment.” Goodman said he wished he could give him a score higher than 10. For the evening, Fatone received 56 of 60.

Episode grade: A. It’s down to the wire, and tonight is the season finale. Everyone is bringing it the dance floor.

Prediction: Not. A. Clue. None. The competition is fierce. Everyone wants it badly. My fave has been Fatone from the beginning, but if he doesn’t back off some of the “razzle dazzle,” as it were, he’s going to lose.

Tonight: The competitors dance once more for the judges, and all votes are tallied to find the winner of the mirror ball trophy.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

Dancing With the Stars, May 15 May 16, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With the Stars”: Each competitor repeated favorite dances, but with new choreography and music. Apolo Anton Ohno chose the quickstep and cha cha; Ian Ziering, the jive and tango; Laila Ali, the quickstep and cha cha; and Joey Fatone, the foxtrot and jive.

Scores: Ali and Fatone led the pack with perfect scores of 60 for their two dances. This was a boon for Fatone, who wound up in the bottom two the previous week, when Billy Ray Cyrus was sent home. Ohno missed perfection by one point, scoring 59, and Ziering came in last at 58. Judge Len Goodman said the best four couples made it through to the semi-finals.

Musical guest Tuesday: Hottie Enrique Iglesias crooned. Two words: eye candy. Be still my beating heart.

Montage-happy: The producers are filling an hour with various montages and junk. It’s a bit much. Not that watching Iglesisas sing — twice — was a bad thing. But the montages are obviously filler. All we really want to know is who’s going home, right? OK, so the competitors talk about the other competitors — good stuff, of course — and also why they themselves should win. Whatever.

Sent home: Ziering. He choked up a bit, or seemed to, but I don’t think he was completely surprised. He was happy to get three 10s Monday, and he realized he wouldn’t have gotten so far without partner Cheryl Burke, who was denied a third win.

Grade: B-. I really don’t like it when the same hour from Monday is re-run Tuesday. It’s weird.

Next week: The judges will choose the dances for the remaining competitors.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

Dancing With the Stars, May 14 May 15, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With the Stars”: Each competitor repeated favorite dances, but with new choreography and music. Apolo Anton Ohno chose the quickstep and cha cha; Ian Ziering, the jive and tango; Laila Ali, the quickstep and cha cha; and Joey Fatone, the foxtrot and jive.

New ground: Ziering and partner Cheryl Burke scored their first 10 of the competition with their jive. He looked good in this dance, even with the Elvis wig and attire. Maybe the costume helped.

Bring on the raunch: After turning in an energetic and beautifully done quickstep, Ohno and Julianne Hough drew the ire of judge Len Goodman with their “raunchy” cha cha. He said it didn’t have enough of the dance’s steps in it.The audience, however, and judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, loved it. It was, in fact, a hot, sexy dance. But Goodman was, in fact, absolutely correct — there was a lot of bumping and grinding, but not a lot of dancing happening.

Smooth groove: Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and Fatone and partner Kym Johnson, scored perfect scores of 60 for the evening with their dances. This is good news for Fatone, who was in the bottom two last week. He stepped up his game even more and was absolutely flawless Monday. He has more pizzazz and personality than the other three contestants combined. He’s been my favorite from the beginning, and I really hope the voting public returns to favor him.

Grade: A-. Sometimes I’m confused by how the judges vote. For example, both Ohno and Ali danced the quickstep. Ohno’s was flawless; Ali’s was creative but more basic. Yet they received the same score. That perplexes me. But Monday was an exciting evening because everyone brought their best game.

Prediction: I don’t have a clue. I though Ziering should’ve been in the bottom two last week, but I discounted the popularity of Burke, who has won this competition twice — once with Drew Lachey and once with Emmitt Smith. So I have no idea. I can’t figure these judges out this season. Based on scores alone, Ohno and Ziering would be in the bottom two. But who knows?

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

Dancing With the Stars, May 8 May 9, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With the Stars”: The remaining competitors — Laila Ali, Billy Ray Cyrus, Joey Fatone, Apolo Anton Ohno and Ian Ziering — each danced a ballroom and a Latin routine. Ohno was tops at the end of the night while Cyrus was way at the bottom.

Tuesday — Favorite quote remembered from Monday: “You pimped the mambo.” Judge Bruno Tonioli to Joey Fatone on his — what else? — mambo.

Re-dance: Ohno and partner Julianne Hough danced their paso doble again. Something I really liked — OK, not about the dance but about their outfits — was the chosen colors. Usually, you see a lot of red in paso doble outfits. I kinda liked the summer squash/olive colors in Ohno’s and Hough’s garb. It was different. As for the dance, it was as good the second time as it was the first.

Musical guest: Nelly Furtado — sans Timbaland — was in the house, and sang two songs: “I’m Like a Bird” and “All Good Things.” But OMG! What was she wearing? IDK! It looked like a storm-grey tent! Furtado is a lovely woman, although I noticed for the first time she sings through her nose — too much “American Idol,” I guess — but that frock was just ghastly. So unbecoming. I couldn’t even watch the dancers for looking at it. I much prefer her disco chic attire. I mean, I’m no fashion maven, but please.

Bro on the flo’: Professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s — I’ve had to look that name up every time I’ve had to spell it — brother Valentin, or Valentine, or however you spell it, joined him for a dance. He’s a good-looking one, too. Chmerkovskiy is Ali’s partner and, by the way, Ali had a gorgeous waltz dress — fire engine red and just beautiful. Loved it.

Buh-bye: It was no surprise ol’ Billy Ray went home. He even sorta seemed to expect it. What was surprising, however, was Fatone and partner Kym Johnson as the other couple in the “red light” — or on the chopping block, as it were. Not only were they stunned, Ohno and Hough — the only other couple left standing outside the red light the announcement — were shocked as well. Guess all Fatone’s wisecracking and jocularity aren’t paying off because, of course, this isn’t really a dance competition. It’s a popularity contest. Good grief.

Grade: B+. Despite that wretched tent-frock, the shock value — for me, anyway — was worth the watch. That alone steps up my anticipation for next week’s show.

Next week: The final four get to dance their favorite dances, but with new music and choreography.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

Dancing With the Stars, May 7 May 8, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With The Stars”: Once again, the competitors learned a ballroom and a Latin routine.

Back in the game: After getting roundly criticized for both his routines last week, Apolo Anton Ohno came back with a strong — according to the judges tango — and a fierce paso doble. I had to agree with judge Len Goodman on the tango, though — it was too frenetic and too noise. The tango is a passionate, slow dance, as he explained. Getting the technical aspects right spot-on and calling it “contemporary” yet changing the feel of the dance do not a tango make. Neverthe less, Ohno scored a 28 for his tango and a perfect 30 for his paso doble.

Daddy’s girl: Laila Ali’s dad, boxing great Muhammad Ali, was in the house. Ali made a sweet dedication to both her parents, and did well both in her waltz and the jive.

Still stiff: Poor Ian Ziering. He loosened up a bit last week only to go back to looking stiff and even uncomfortable this week in both the rumba and the foxtrot. He doesn’t even look comfortable with the dance steps. Partner Cheryl Burke may not turn out to be a three-time winner of “Dancing With the Stars” with Ziering.

Less razzle dazzle: Joey Fatone took Goodman’s advice and didn’t put any “razzle dazzle” in his waltz — and it lacked any and all personality. Judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli didn’t like its lack of personality but Goodman called it a “proper dance.” His mambo was much better, and I think Fatone still is the one to beat.

Harsh words: Billy Ray Cyrus really bottomed out this week. He’s barely doing the moves, and the judges’ patience has run out, I believe. Tonioli called his foxtrot “crap,” which really ticked off Cyrus. His ire lasted through his Latin dance, the mambo, making it awkward as well.

Grade: B. Ali’s fond memories of her parents and blowing a kiss to her dad were really a nice touch. Cyrus, who has been extraordinarily laidback up until Monday, fired back at Tonioli over his criticism. Those fireworks were great fun.

Tonight: I think Cyrus’ luck has run out finally. His temper tantrum last night probably didn’t help, either. Ziering isn’t improving a great deal, so he might be on the chopping block as well.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

Dancing With the Stars, May 1 May 2, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With the Stars”: The remaining competitors had to learn a ballroom routine and a Latin routine. Joey Fatone and professional partner Kym Johnson, and Laila Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy received one perfect score of 30; the other score was a 29, bringing their totals for the evening to 59 each. The bottom finishers were John Ratzenberger and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Tuesday’s musical guest: Rocker Meat Loaf performed his 1970s classic “Bat Out of Hell” as well as a new single.

Buh-bye: Senior competitor John Ratzenberger was sent packing.

Next week: Once again, the remaining dancers must master a new ballroom and a new Latin routine. One wonders how much more effort Cyrus is going to put in to this gig, now that “Hannah Montana” has started filming again.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

Dancing With the Stars, April 30 May 1, 2007

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Last week on “Dancing With the Stars”: The competition heated up, with the competitors having to learn a new individual routine and a group routine in a week. Heather Mills was the casualty for the week, but apparently she saw it coming: She had an exit speech on a piece of paper, and took her leave with a lot of grace.

Monday night: The remaining stars learned a ballroom routine and a Latin routine — in one week. Most rolled with it pretty well; others, not so much.

Tops: Two teams shone bright Monday: Joey Fatone and professional partner Kym Johnson, and Laila Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Each team received one perfect score of 30; the other score was a 29, bringing their totals for the evening to 59 each. Ali is lovely to watch, as she brings power and sizzle to her dancing. But Fatone is a whole lot more fun, and has a much better personality. He’s my fave at this point.

Flops: Poor Billy Ray Cyrus. He has no rhythm. He didn’t even try to waltz, and the judges criticized him — mildly — for it. But the audience loves Billy Ray. So do the judges, for that matter. They’ll really knock other dancers, and tell Billy Ray how much fun he brings to the show. I guess the expectations are low. John Ratzenberger had a mixed-bag night, too. The judges complimented him on his performances in both categories, but his scores were low. Ouch. At one point, though, judge Carrie Ann Inaba, said he was the “best mover” of all the older gentlemen who had danced on the show.

OMG! moment: Ian Ziering’s hips moved. I mean, they really moved. He loosened up, at long last. I thought he was going to put himself out of the competition just by being too stiff. But it looked like he finally had some fun last night. Thank goodness!

Dropped in the rankings: Apolo Anton Ohno did not have a good night. Judge Len Goodman shredded him, too. The Olympic speed skater didn’t look as immaculate as he has in past weeks, and that’s what Goodman noticed. He was good, but as Goodman said, great was expected. Bruno Tonioli disagreed completely, but he was wrong. Ohno really wasn’t on top of his game Monday night.

Grade: B+. Fatone stepped up his game — finally — after coasting for several weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how the ensuing weeks evolve.

Prediction: This is hard to say, as usual. Ratzenberger and partner Edyta Sliwinska, and Cyrus and partner Karina Smirnoff received the lowest scores. I’m not sure Cyrus will be in the bottom two, though. Who knows? I do kinda think Ratzenberger is hitting the road tonight.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

Dancing With the Stars, April 18 April 18, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With the Stars”: The celebrities and their professional dance partners performed either the romantic rumba or the sizzling samba.

Tuesday guests: Macy Gray sang her latest single and dedicated the performance to the families and friends of victims at Virginia Tech. Season 2 dancing alum Lisa Rinna and hubby Harry Hamlin, a season 3 alumnus, performed a tune from “Chicago.” They will join the cast of the Broadway show this summer in the roles of Roxie Hart and Billy Flynn, respectively.

Which two couples bottomed out and who went home: Clyde “The Glide” Drexler and Elena Grinenko were joined by Heather Mills and Jonathan Roberts this week at the bottom. Mills — she of the artificial leg — took her first spill this week. Would that affect her vote count? Doesn’t matter — Drexler was sent packing. And hey — he already had a tee time lined up, so what does he care? Good old Clyde — he told the judges their expectations were too high. (snicker)

Next week: The remaining seven stars must learn another dance — and their first group routine.

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett

“Dancing With the Stars,” April 16 April 17, 2007

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Monday on “Dancing With the Stars”: The celebrities and their professional dance partners performed either the romantic rumba or the sizzling samba.
Perfection in motion: Apolo Anton Ohno and partner Julianne Hough realized the first perfect score of the season — a 30 — with their samba, a spicy, Latin party dance.

No romance there: Good ol’ Billy Ray Cyrus failed the romance element of the rumba in his dance with partner Karina Smirnoff. The rumba is, in fact, a dance that oozes love an eroticism — and Cyrus looked stiff as a board every time he touched Smirnoff. The judges noticed, and the score of 17 reflected their criticism of his performance.

Back in the game: Laila Ali and Maksim Chmerkovskiy lit up the dance floor with their rumba. After a couple of weeks of lackluster performances and scores that reflected that, the 28 surely was a relief.

Prediction: Well, Clyde Drexler and partner Elena Grinenko scored an all-time low of 13 for their unfortunate rumba, but Drexler is pretty well liked by the public, it seems. John Ratzenberger and Edyta Sliwinska are at the bottom of the barrel, too, with 18 points — although they are above Cyrus. But the public really loves Cyrus, and Ratzenberger was in the bottom two last week. It might be Ratzenberger’s week to go.

Tonight: Results, of course, plus a musical performance by Macy Gray. Also, former contestants Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin return to perform a number from the musical “Chicago.”

— Stalked by Jennifer Brummett