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DWTS 15: Finals

There will be a queen to the ballroom tomorrow after the final instant dance. Who will it be: Kelly Monaco, Melissa Rycroft or Shawn Johnson? You can still vote on website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

I have barely recovered from no men making the finals after last week’s double elimination took out Emmett Smith and Apolo Anton Ohno. The three female celebrity finalists are fantastic, of course, but men have a harder time learning the dancing because they are supposed to be leading.

Oh, Gilles Marini is an exceptional dancer. Apolo Anton Ohno was getting a bit more bravura than he had in his original outing. Emmett Smith has such a genial personality on the dance floor and he’s so big he can really dominate that space.

The only lovely lady who calls Los Angeles home is Kelly Monaco, the winner of the first season of “Dancing with the Stars.”  Monaco was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia but now calls West Hollywood home. She’s been on the ABC soap opera “General Hospital” since 2003 as the character Sam McCall. “General Hospital” is supposed to take place in the fictional city of Port Charles, New York. Her TV debut was with a Southern California based show “Baywatch.” She had been an actual life guard prior to being cast on the show.

When she competed on DWTS for the first season, she wasn’t the best dancer nor did she have the highest average score. She also almost had a wardrobe malfunction during one routine. Her partner was Alex Mazo and he came back for a special face-off with John O’Hurley and his partner Charlotte Jorgensen. The season was six weeks long and only required ten dances. This season (15) is 10 weeks long and requires 17 dances as of tonight, Tuesday. For the doubters, Monaco has really proved herself and has good chemistry with her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy.

Melissa Rycroft originally competed during season 8 as a last-minute replacement for the injured Nancy O’Dell. She would finish in third place in May 2009, behind Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas (winners) and Gilles Marini and Cheryl Burke (runners up).  Also in 2009, Rycroft got married and just last year, in February 2011, gave birth.

Johnson won an Olympic gold medal for balance beam and all-around in 2008. She was the 2007 all-around world champion and the U.S. all-around champion in 2007 and 2008. She was on a high when she won season 8 of DWTS. She had surgery on her knee in 2010 , after injuring it skiing. But this year, despite a team gold at the Pan American Games in 2011 and a silver for uneven bars, Johnson retired due to continuing left knee problems. She was not on the Olympic team that represented the U.S. in London.

Yet this season has Maksim’s younger brother, Val Chmerkovskiy emerging from his brother’s shadow. Wouldn’t it be something if Val and his partner Kelly Monaco won the trophy that has eluded his brother for 15 seasons? Maksim, of course, hasn’t been on DWTS for all 15 seasons. He wasn’t on the first season or the sixth season. His highest finish was second with Mel B during season five and 12 with Kirstie Alley. He came in third during season 4 (Laila Ali) and 10 (Erin Andrews). He finished fourth during season 11 with Brandy and season 13 with Hope Solo.

Val just began competing on DWTS during season 13 with Elisabetta Canalis for an 11th place finish. She was beautiful, but stiff and had just broken up with George Clooney. He loosened up a bit when he had the bubbly Sherri Shepherd as a partner the next season (14) for a 10th place finish.

Tony Dovolani like Maksim did not appear during the first pilot season. He also joined during season 2 and his partner, Stacy Kiebler (now dating Clooney), finished third. Dovolani also finished third with Melissa Rycroft during season 8. He finished fourth with Broadway musical star Marissa Jaret Winokur during season 6. During season 10, he had the dubious honor of partnering with Kate Gosselin who famously made him lose his temper.  This time around Rycroft has really blossomed and they’ve remained a class act throughout.

Derek Hough is the only pro still in the competition who has actually won a mirrorball trophy. The 27-year-old was in the original London West End production of “Footloose: The Musical” as the lead, Ren. He didn’t get to star in the remake, but his sister Julianne did. Hough joined DWTS during Season 5 when he was teamed with actress Jennie Garth for a fourth place finish.  He did much better season 7 when he paired with Brooke Burke for a win. He also won with singer Nicole Scherzinger (season 10) and actress Jennifer Grey (season 11). That’s three wins. He sat out season 12 due to movie commitments. He finished third with actress/talk show host Ricki Lake during season 13. He’s finished fourth three times: Season 5 with Jennie Garth, Season 9 with Playmate Joanna Krupa and Season 14 with Maria Menounos.

This will be Hough’s last season and perhaps that’s why he’s taking so many risks with his choreography or maybe it’s just that gymnast Shawn Johnson makes him want to show off his acrobatic skills as well. Hough’s a year older than Val.

Dovolani is the oldest professional dancer in the finals at 39.

Of the celebrities, former Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is the youngest at 20. Monaco is 36. Rycroft is 29. Only Rycroft is married (to Tye Strickland with one child).   Her partner, Dovolani, is also the only professional dancer in the finals who is married. Dovolani has three children, the youngest two (twins) were born during Season 7 when Dovolani was paired with soap opera diva Susan Lucci.

At the end of Monday night the rankings were:

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 60/60
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 59/60
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 57/60

The first round of dances were do-overs. Each couple took a dance they had previously performed and brought the routine back to the ballroom for a better score. Hough and Johnson could have scored better, but refused to change their quickstep routine which featured a lift and also got deduction for not remaining in hold.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 for a samba to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan 
  2. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (9.5,10.0,10.0) for a paso doble to ” Espana Cani“by Erich Kunzel 
  3. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 27/30 (9.0,8.5,9.5) for a quickstep to “Hey Pachuco”by Royal Crown Revue 

The super-sized freestyle added other people, making this more like “America’s Got Talent.” Each group added different people, but the standings remained the same. Johnson and Hough and Rycroft and Dovolani posted perfect scores, but Monaco and Val were only a half-point behind.

  1. Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani: 30/30 to “I Was Here” by Beyonce with trapeze artists.
  2. Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough: 30/30 to “Carnival de Paris” by Dario G with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Team who had just competed this summer in London (Gabby DouglasMcKayla MaroneyAly RaismanKyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber).
  3. Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy: 29.5/30 (10.0,9.5,10.0) to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes with troupe members and a church choir. Monaco did some aerial tissu.

You can still vote on website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

DWTS 15 Week 9: Three perfect scores from three different couples

Last night on “Dancing  with the Stars: All-Stars,” the competition continues despite the absence of sigh-worthy Gilles Marini. How is that possible? Of the five celebrity couples left, three posted perfect scores after performing two dances each.  You can still vote on website or by Facebook.until 11 a.m. East Coast time or 8 a.m. Pacific Standard time.

Last week, Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani were almost perfect with only 1 point off of the full 100 points. This week, there was a new leading lady, Shawn Johnson.  She was near perfect with 59/60 points.

This week’s standings are:

  1. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 30.0 + 29.0 = 59/60
  2. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 27.5 + 30 = 57.5/60
  3. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 27 + 30 = 57/60
  4. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 25.5 + 28.5 = 54/60
  5. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 27.0 + 27.0 = 54/60

Rycroft and Dovolani were in second, just 2.5 points behind the leaders. If logic has anything to do with it, then the two teams who were tied for the bottom spot with 54/60 should go in Tuesday’s double elimination: Emmitt Smith and his partner Cheryl Burke and Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy.

Last week Monaco and Chmerkovskiy were tied for third with Smith and Burke. Of the five remaining couples, Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff had the lowest score last week.

Last week’s standings were:

  1. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 39 + 60 = 99/100
  2. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 38 + 55.5 = 93.5/100
  3. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 36 + 56.5 = 92.5/100
  4. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 34.5 + 58.0 = 92.5/100
  5. Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd: 33.5 + 58.5 = 92.0/100
  6. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 33 + 58.5= 91.5/100
  7. Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 28 + 51.079.0/100

Of the remaining contestants, only Rycroft hasn’t won the mirrorball trophy. The first set of dances for this week were gimmicky. And that’s not just the style, but the actual dances. When did Bhangra enter the ballroom and which judge really knows anything about it? I blame jazz on that risky routine that Maksim Chmerkovsky did with Erin Andrews. Only one team got a perfect score: Johnson and Hough. But one other team caught everyone’s attention: Val Chmerkovsky. For his surfer flamenco, he stripped down to his Speedo. Try to top that Maksim!

Despite the skin show, Val and Monaco didn’t place well. How can they? Really? What is the relationship between surfing and flamenco and, as in the case of Bhangra, just what do the judges and the pros know about flamenco? At this point, what are the judges really doing to award points.

  1. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 30.0 (10.0,10.0,10.0), “Knight Rider” Bhangra to “Mundian to Bach Ke” by Panjabi MC 
  2. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 27.5 (9.0,9.5,9.0), “Caveman” Hustle to “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (not Was) 
  3. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 27 (8.5,9.0,9.5), “Big Top” Jazz to “What You Waiting For” by Gwen Stefani 
  4. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0), “Espionage” Lindy Hop to “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers 
  5. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 25.5 (8.0,9.0,8.5), “Surfer” Flamenco to “Malagueña” by Brian Setzer Orchestra 

The second round of dances were themed on Michael Jackson’s album “Bad.” What could be better than dancing to the Prince of Pop? Johnson and Hough weren’t steamy enough for judge Carrie Ann Inaba who marked them down one point for their lack of emotional effort. It was Rycroft and Dovolani and Ohno and Smirnoff who reached perfection. Ohno seems to be getting used to having his shirt off, or in this case, almost off.

  1. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani:  30 (10.0,10.0,10.0), Argentine Tango to “Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson 
  2. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff:  30 (10.0,10.0,10.0), Rumba to “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson 
  3. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 29.0  (9.0,10.0,10.0), Argentine Tango to “Bad” by Michael Jackson 
  4. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy:  28.5 (9.5,9.5,9.5), Rumba to “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” by Michael Jackson 
  5. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0), Tango to “Leave Me Alone” by  Michael Jackson.

Dovolani did an amazing set of lifts with smooth transitions despite an injury. What it comes down to is not who deserves to go forward, but who has the better fan base. Smith undoubtedly has a strong fan base and football players have always done well even when they didn’t dance well (remember, Michael Irvin?). But there are two other athletes: Ohno and Johnson. Unfortunately, football is a bigger sport than either short track speed skating or gymnastics. That could mean bad things for Ohno.

The votes should be close so if you want your favorite or favorites to survive, be sure to vote. Tuesday is another double elimination.

You can still vote online through the website or by Facebook. Online voting closes at 8 a.m. PST.

DWTS 15: Week 3 has Melissa Rycroft and Kelly Monaco tied for top spot

Last night (Monday, Oct. 8, 2012) on “Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars,” there was a tie for the top between  Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani and Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy. At the bottom again was Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas with 22.5. Tonight (Tuesday, Oct. 9) is a double elimination so there’s double trouble.

Palin and Ballas improved over their score from last week (18), but still were at the bottom of the leader board with 22.5 after performing the paso doble that originally was performed by Derek Hough and Joanna Krupa. That’s a controversial pairing–daughter of the family values Republican Sarah Palin and the Playboy model who has a reality TV celebrity habit and a live-in relationship still.

At least Ballas couldn’t go bonkers with this one. Still the oldest contestant, Kirstie Alley, scored better with a 24. She and Maksim Chmerkovskiy tied with Drew Lachey and Anna Trebunskaya.

Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough were in third place. Last week’s top scoring team, Sabrina Bryan and Louis van Amstel were in a four-way tie for fourth with Gilles Marini and Peta Murgatroyd, Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff and Helio Castroneves and Chelsie Hightower.

You can still vote online through the website or by Facebook.

  1. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0)
  2. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0)
  3. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 26.5 (9.0,8.0,9.5)
  4. Sabrina Bryan & Louis Van Amstel: 25.5 (8.5,8.5,8.5)
  5. Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd: 25.5 (8.5,8.5,8.5)
  6. Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 25.5 (9.0,8.0,8.5)
  7. Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower: 25.5 (8.5,8.5,8.5)
  8. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 25.0 (8.5,8.0,8.5)
  9. Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya: 24.0 (8.0,8.0,8.0)
  10. Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 24.0 (8.0,8.0,8.0)
  11. Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas: 22.5 (7.5,7.5,7.5)

Take iconic and be more iconic.


Cha cha cha

Trebunskaya sexed it up with the costumes and stripping Lachey’s shirt.

Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya: 24.0 (8.0,8.0,8.0)

  • Crazy in Love“—Beyoncé feat. Jay-Z
  • Joey McIntyre & Ashly DelGrosso (Season 1)
  • Song: “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé
    Score: 20 (7,7,6)

Did you like Maksim with the long hair? Of course, we always like Maksim without the shirt. The strategy here was to improve the technique and camp it up.  This almost made iconic night worth it.

Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 24.0 (8.0,8.0,8.0)


Is it possible for Apolo Anton Ohno to be steamier than Gilles Marini? Marini and Burke received two tens when they performed this and here’s where being an actor really helps. Marini was suave but sexy as the devil. Ohno was sophisticated but not with the same intensity as Marini.

Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 25.5 (9.0,8.0,8.5)

Paso doble

With this dance and partner, Val finally rises out of the shadow of his brother Maksim. Kelly and Val have chemistry, but Kelly doesn’t bristle with the kind of powerful physicality that Laila Ali had–few women do. With Laila Ali, you thought that she and Maksim could punch it out and Maksim would lose. With Kelly and Maksim it’s more a match of forceful personalities.

Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0)

Can Bristol Palin ever equal the sex appeal and technical skills of Joanna Krupa. You know the answer is no. Ballas goes kooky and they get to play white queen and black king. This is a chess metaphor and has nothing to do with race.

The judges felt it was their best dance of the season–that’s one out of three. It had the most content and attack.

Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas: 22.5 (7.5,7.5,7.5)

Sabrina Bryan is a strong woman, even if she’s the youngest contestant. However, judge Carrie Ann Inaba thought this team brought nothing new artistically to this routine.

Sabrina Bryan & Louis Van Amstel: 25.5 (8.5,8.5,8.5)

Scary Spice was definitely scarier than Sabrina Bryan. Bruno called her an “adrenaline charged dominatrix.”

With Emmitt Smith, there were some awkward moments, but he is already a commanding presence. There was a scary moment, but it all ends well.

Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 25.0 (8.5,8.0,8.5)

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke had already seen this paso doble–twice. He competed against Mario Lopez and won.


As expected Derek Hough decided to up the acrobatics and even included an illegal lift and a lot of drama at the end.

Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 26.5 (9.0,8.0,9.5)

  • “Hey Pachuco”—Royal Crown Revue
  • Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough (Season 5)
  • Score: 30

I think Johnson and Hough lacked the sophistication that Castroneves and Julianne had.  When Castroneves and Hightower performed their own quickstep it had an amazing amount of joy–even with the slight bobble when Castroneves stepped on Hightower’s dress.

Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower: 25.5 (8.5,8.5,8.5)

I can’t choose. I love both versions and both sets of costumes.


Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 27.0 (9.0,9.0,9.0)

Of course, Martinez didn’t have to perform all the drops and turns that Rycroft did because he’s the guy.


Don’t you love Gilles Marini doing the tango. Menacing and erotic, Marini delivered another solid performance, but lost points for his hold and some footwork mishaps.

Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd: 25.5 (8.5,8.5,8.5)

Week 1, it was Drew Lachey and his partner Anna Trebunskaya who were in the bottom two. Week 2, it was Hélio Castroneves and his partner Chelsie Hightower who survived the bottom two.

I’m hoping that Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas will be eliminated and most likely Drew Lachey will go as well. With Joey Fatone gone, the entertainment factor is low with this cast so I’m hoping that Kirstie Alley and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy will continue to dance.

Remember, you can vote online until 8 a.m. PST by going to the ABC DWTS official page for voting or by using Facebook.

DWTS All-Stars: Foxtrot

The full leader board for Monday night:

  1. Emmitt Smith & Cheryl Burke: 24.5
  2. Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd: 24.0
  3. Sabrina Bryan & Louis Van Amstel: 22.5
  4. Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 22.0/Apolo Anton Ohno & Karina Smirnoff: 22.0
  5. Kelly Monaco & Val Chmerkovskiy: 21.5/Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya: 21.5/Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower: 21.5
  6. Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 21
  7. Joey Fatone & Kym Johnson: 20.5
  8. Bristol Palin & Mark Ballas: 19.5
  9. Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 19
  10. Pamela Anderson & Tristan MacManus: 17


Gilles Marini & Peta Murgatroyd: 24.0

Shawn Johnson & Derek Hough: 22.

Drew Lachey & Anna Trebunskaya: 21.5

Helio Castroneves & Chelsie Hightower: 21.5

Melissa Rycroft & Tony Dovolani: 21

Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy: 19

Kristi Yamaguchi’s “Dancing the Night Away”

Did you love “Dancing with the Stars”? Do you love Kristi Yamaguchi?

Yamaguchi hosts a fundraiser “Dancing the Night Away” for her Alway Dream Foundation at the Hilton in Union Square, San Francisco on 18 June 2011. “Always Dream” has been Yamaguchi’s personal motto and inspiration and her charity aims to inspire and embrace the hopes and dreams of children.

Past grant recipients have included: All Stars Helping Kids, American Cancer Society, Chibi-Chan Preschool, Delaware Skating Association, Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Northern California, Joy of Sports Foundation, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, National Youth Enterprise Institute, Andrea Rizzo Foundation, Salvation Army, West Coast Children’s Center, Sports for the World’s Children (SWC) Foundation, UCSF Children’s Hospital and YES Reading.


  • 5:30 p.m.     Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres
  • 6:30 p.m.     Dinner
  • 8:00 p.m.     Program/Show

The cast has yet to be announced. Past cast members have included:

• Kristi Yamaguchi along with dance partner Mark Ballas

• Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya

• Jane Seymour and Jonathan Roberts

• Cheryl Burke and Genya Mazo

• Marlee Matlin

• Natalie Couglin

• Shawn Johnson

• Louis van Amstel

• Chelsie Hightower

Individual tickets are pretty pricey: $850.  If your company sponsors, you can get a table for six for $5,000 (silver sponsor), a VIP table for 10 for $10,000 which includes a pre-event reception with the cast (gold sponsor), or for a mere $25,000 you can get 2 VIP tables for 10 and a pre-event reception and hotel rooms and a private brunch for 20.

For more info, contact the Always Dream Foundation.