This week’s “Dancing With the Stars” theme, covering the most memorable year of the celebrities’ lives, would be sure to inspire some drama. I always enjoyed this part of the season, and now I was sorry that Valerie Harper had been sent home, as viewers could have seen more about her emotional cancer battle.
I was expecting my underdog favorite, comedian Bill Engvall, to score big time with his rumored waltz tribute to his wife tonight. And would Leah Remini do some sort of Scientology bashing dance? We could only hope!
Here was what happened when our nine remaining stars spilled their guts on week five, our “DWTS” season 17 halfway point:
Host Tom Bergeron announced that one of the female stars would be eliminated tonight based on the viewer votes from last week.
Christina Milian and Mark Ballas: Cha Cha Cha
Christina talked about how 2010 was a crazy year because she gave birth to her daughter Violet but her husband was unfaithful, so they got a divorce. “To see it not work out was the biggest pain,” the former “Voice” correspondent told the ABC cameras. She would be dancing to “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green, her old TV co-star.
The actress began the number alone and then joined Mark on the floor, both blinding me in their neon colors. It was pretty straightforward cha cha dancing and I felt they looked very strong as a couple tonight. Christina’s body looked incredible and she strut around with a lot of attitude, thinking about her ex, perhaps? Look what he was missing! Oh, there was Len Goodman back at his judging perch after Julianne Hough had subbed for him last week. Len loved Christina’s dance. According to Bruno Tonioli, Christina displayed some hot footwork. Carrie Ann Inaba said, “That was something special” and praised Mark’s choreography. Len must have had a great rest—he gave them a ten!
Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke: Waltz
Jack revealed in 2012 he moved into a new house and had a daughter, Pearl, with his wife Lisa. But then he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “I was scared for my kid,” he sobbed. (I knew there would be drama tonight!) The reality TV son thought he was going to be “in a f***ing wheelchair” and not be able to provide for his child. But wife Lisa and Pearl got him out of his funk. Hey, wait a minute—he’s Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s kid! Shouldn’t he be set for life? Anyway, Jack was going to dedicate his dance, to Des-ree’s “I’m Kissing You,” to his family, and I don’t mean his first one. Once again, Jack impressed me with his ramrod straight posture, ability to twirl Cheryl gracefully, and command attention on the ballroom floor. I was watching his every move instead of Cheryl’s! This dance was so romantic and fluid; he had involved me completely in the routine. The audience stood to salute him and he gave his wife a hug in the crowd. Bruno said he set the mood and he did the best lines he ever did and even got his “bum” under control (butt to us Americans). Carrie Ann said the Brit kid took her breath away. “Everything flowed,” she said. Len said he came out with big, flowing movement although his hands were a little peculiar. Jack got his highest score of the season!
Leah Remini and Tony Dovolani: Contemporary
2012 was Leah’s choice for her most memorable year. The “King of Queens” star implied she had been depending on Scientology, but now she wasn’t. “It’s been great. My daughters got to see the strength in our family,” she said about her break from the House of Xenu. Leah never mentioned the Church by name, but we knew what she was talking about! Oh, goody, Leah was actually going to play a puppet with Tony pulling the strings—this looked like it could be a train wreck of the proportions of the Marie Osmond demented doll dance from years ago. “You can’t let anyone dictate to you,” she said sternly to the cameras before hitting the floor. Leah looked like one tough broad—I wouldn’t want to cross her! Performing to Katy Perry’s “Roar,” Leah was indeed a demented puppet on Tony’s strings, but then she broke free to dance in a white dress, like she was a runaway bride. Leah appeared to be very aggressive and angry in this dance at first, but cut a smile when Tony lifted her over his head, not once but twice. She ended up by herself smirking on a platform above everyone to end the dance. I was thoroughly entertained by this number perhaps because of its sheer oddness and the way Leah and Tony used the floor in a new way. Carrie Ann loved the message of the routine and the storytelling but thought it was too herky jerky, not seamless enough. Well, after all, she was a puppet on the loose! Len loved the concept but felt the lifts were labored. Bruno pointed out the contemporary dance has to have strong dynamic flow and Leah did well with that. Leah was proud she had tried even though she seemed annoyed by the Oh, Paris Hilton was in the crowd to support Christina Milian.
Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff: Foxtrot
The “High School Musical” cutie was dedicating his dance to his sister Phoenix, who was diagnosed with scoliosis, but I didn’t catch what year this happened. Anyway, the girl looked fine now; she must have received some excellent medical care. Corbin and Karina would be using “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts to tell their story. It was a foxtrot that looked again like there were two professionals on the floor. The pair didn’t miss any steps and seemed to be having so much fun, too. Corbin blew a kiss to his sister, 12, during the dance which was really sweet. And he spun Karina around the floor like a giant Swiffer. The reporters backstage loved it and broke into applause. Len said Corbin had lovely fluid movement and hold while Bruno said he could be the love child of Fred Astaire and Ben Vereen. Host Tom said we needed Bill Nye the Science Guy to explain that! Carrie Ann was torn because she thought she saw an illegal lift—but Karina insisted her right foot was on the floor. Corbin got the second ten of the season.
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Bill Engvall and Emma Slater: Viennese Waltz
So, it was time for my favorite wannabe dancer and Bill was talking in rehearsal about how he cried for happiness last week about being declared safe. 1982 was Bill’s favorite year because he married his wife, Gail, the ultimate old-fashioned girl. “She wasn’t going to spend the night in my apartment,” Bill revealed. Gail would “make out” with him but nothing more! A little TMI to me but a sweet story and sure to please Bill’s blue collar fan base, especially after he said they’ve been married for 30 years! “She’s always there to say we’re going to be fine,” Bill told Emma emotionally about Gail. Dancing to Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman,” Bill began the dance by swaying in front of Emma in a little solo reverie. He then joined his partner and made good eye contact with her in their very coordinated waltz. Once again, I was surprised by his strong lead and connection to his partner. It was slow, graceful and elegant. He hugged Emma at the end and welled up in tears again, and of course hugged his wife, who wiped away tears. Bruno said’ “You wore your heart on your sleeve,” although there were timing issues. Carrie Ann said Bill touched our souls tonight. “It was a little rushed but I like the romance of the dance and you in hold,” Len commented. Len put into better words what I had been trying to say.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Sasha Farber: Jazz
2012, when she had her son Lorenzo, was very special to Snooki. Before, “I drank all the time, I was loud, yung and dumb,” she admitted. After birth, “All my priorities shifted. I love doing laundry.” Britney Spears’ “Work Bitch” would provide the backdrop to this dance, sadly undercutting Nicole’s points! Oh, well. I’d keep an open mind. Nicole started by strutting down the stairs in a black disco style outfit like she was in a club and then she and Sasha did side by side slides. Sasha lifted Snooki off the floor as the strobe lights went off and then they separated again There was a lot of razzle dazzle in this routine and I felt Nicole’s cheerleading background came in handy as she did a couple of cartwheels. I wasn’t a fan of this performance after liking all her other dances this season. It was too much like freestyle and I didn’t want to see that style of dance until the finale. But Carrie Ann said she worked it, barreling on through while Len called it “fast-paced, vibrant and fun to watch.” Bruno praised Nicole as a bundle of fun.
Brant Daugherty and Peta Murgatroyd: Contemporary
In 2009, Brant had decided to pursue an acting career, which was enthusiastically supported by his father, so much so that he moved to Hollywood to help his son get settled in. But Bill’s dad got sick later in the year, suffering from lymphoma. Brant sat by his side in the hospital for two weeks until he passed away at age 57. Three or four weeks later, the actor got his big break on the ABC show Pretty Little Liars. Brant told Peta he wanted their number to be inspirational rather than sad. “Your Song” by Elton John was the musical choice and the pair started by sitting in a circle of little lights, looking almost like they were part of a religious ceremony. Brant and Peta were in such unison throughout this number, which had So You Think You Can Dance vibe because its contemporary ballet style. They got a standing ovation and Brant was crying at the end, thinking of his dad. Len loved the passion and chemistry of it; “I’m sure your dad’s looking down at you.” Bruno said Brant had no fear and it had a Martha Graham quality. Carrie Ann was just as impressed, feeling every moment was driven from a true place of passion. Brant told host Tom his dad would be so proud of him.
Amber Riley and Derek Hough: Foxtrot
According to Amber, in 2009 she was working at IKEA, building furniture and serving customers, which inspired titters backstage. She flunked an “American Idol” audition try but later won her (far too small, in my opinion) role on another FOX show, “Glee.” No more particle board furniture for her, though! Amber began the dance standing at a microphone but then stepped away from it to dance with Derek. Who wouldn’t? “Try A Little Tenderness” served this number well and her attitude got a lot of oohs in the press room. Amber’s performing ability here was incredibly strong and she ended singing at the mic after all. I loved the way Derek gave Amber the spotlight in this foxtrot; “DWTS”’ golden boy let his star shine. “Lady Amber is here to stay,” Bruno said. “You are a performing powerhouse. You’re a star.” Carrie Ann praised the singer with the headband, you know the one, for belting out the R & B song live. Turning to Amber, Carrie Ann said she had one little slip but it was otherwise terrific. Len said she lit the place up but there wasn’t enough hold in this foxtrot. What a downer! I didn’t give a darn about the hold in this case; I could have watched Amber all night. Len gave her a seven, yuck, but Bruno made up for it with a ten.
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy: Jive
Earlier, with Mario Lopez by her side, Elizabeth had said she was going to pay tribute to their former show, “Saved by the Bell.” The Showgirls star revealed in 2012, her son Sky was born. But she was going to connect the dance to 1989, which was her big break year on the iconic TV show. The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited” became part of pop culture when Elizabeth sang it on the series. “Oh, my God!” a lot of gals of a certain age yelled backstage as Elizabeth started the number by singing “I’m So Excited” and then going into a full on ’80s style dance. I didn’t know why, but it made me feel a little bit uncomfortable to see a woman in her 40s relive her youth. Was it just me? I guess so, because the press room seemed to really enjoy it while I much preferred her grown up tango from last week. I was convinced Elizabeth wasn’t going anywhere, though; this was an elimination-proof crowd-pleasing number, right?. Carrie Ann said the kicks were a little soft but enjoyed the time warp idea of the whole thing. Len disagreed, thinking the kicks were great and it was all well done. Bruno said Elizabeth conveyed the excitement of video dancing: “Incredible fun!”
Surprisingly, Tom announced that Elizabeth was in jeopardy this week!
And after an emotional night, someone was going home, people, and I suspected Leah had a target on her back bigger than whatever her former Scientology cohorts could come up with. Not only did she get the lowest score, Leah was defensive about it. But we would have to see.
Christina, Ellizabeth, and Leah were in the bottom three. But Elizabeth was swiftly declared safe.
Who would go home?
The celebrity leaving was…Christina Milian!
Wow, the first shocker of the season! I couldn’t believe it after her great dance tonight.
The former Voice star admitted she was surprised, too. She said she learned a lot about herself and was happy she’d done “DWTS”.