Sobbing and salsa on ‘Dancing with the Stars’


Tom Bergeron summed it up as “an emotionally charged night”, which is one way to describe Monday’s Dancing with the Stars installment. “Playing the viewers' emotions like castanets” would be another way.

Holy spumoni! The theme was a dance from the contestant’s most memorable year. Sounds like an exciting maybe inspirational evening, right?

Most of the contenders took that as a passport to tragedy, telling heart-breaking stories of medical challenges and lost love ones in their “packages” (the pre-taped personal segments that precede the performances).

The most oft-executed dance of the night? The Tear Jerk.

After a while, it was hard to tell what the judges were scoring: technique or sob story.

At the same time, the evening contained some truly extraordinary performances. Maria Menounos earned straight 9s for an impressively sensual rumba with Derek Hough. The hot button topic on Twitter: Did they kiss? You decide.

Menounos trailed only Latin stud William Levy who scored 28 for a muy caliente salsa with Cheryl Burke. In judge Len Goodman’s unfortunately phrased opinion, “You put a whole new meaning on ‘Free Willy’.”

Atop the leaderboard again was British chanteuse Katherine Jenkins who copped a near perfect 29 for her elegant but very weepy waltz with Mark Ballas that was dedicated to her father who died of lung cancer when she was a teen.

So it went. Dancing through the tears. I guarantee you the producers of DWTS will make this tear-your-heart-out theme a permanent part of their seasonal repertoire.

Tied at the bottom with 24 were Gladys Knight, Melissa Gilbert, Sherri Shepard, Gavin DeGraw and Jack Wagner. If it were up to me, Gilbert would go for using her own back surgery as her cross to bear.

However I doubt she’ll be voted off tonight. For DWTS’s mature viewers, Little House on the Prairie is right in their wheelhouse. Besides there’s nothing they relate to quite as well as orthopedic problems.


Anyone from this group could go and call me Pip, but I worry for Gladys. In the end, I predict it will be Gavin DeGraw leaving. I doubt that the DWTS audience has the slightest idea who he is. I have to be reminded myself.


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