Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who Should Be Benched at Dancing With the Stars

The long nightmare is finally over. No, the Dancing With the Stars (DWTS) finale is next week, and we'll see who finally wins the coveted mirror ball trophy from among three deserving contenders (and that, I'm looking forward to).

No, I'm talking about the season-long Charlie Sheen moment of meltdown by Maksim Chmerkovsky on DWTS.

Now, let's recap for a moment, shall we?

DWTS, for the uninitiated is a simple premise: you take (mostly D-level) "celebrities" and other assorted fame-mongers and sports figures, most of whom have never danced before in any way, and somehow make them into dancers (or at least watchable) for ten weeks.

The job of the pro dancer on this show has somewhat evolved and changed. There were moments when the pros had more to do, and were able to be more creative. But really, the MAIN thing that a pro is there for (sorry, Maks) is to coddle said celebrity. Walk them through their tantrums, hold their hands as they shake in fear about this crazy project they've taken on, and most of all—try to keep all the pouty drama behind the scenes.

That's why someone like Anna Trebunskya (and yes, along the way, the pro dancers have themselves become celebrities; and Maks is SURE acting like one)... someone like Anna is perfect. Her dances/choreography is amazing, but she also has a very giving personality, and can walk through this show with any crazy nutcase they throw at her, and appear graceful (this season, she had Carson Kressley, God help her).

And, except for the fact that Carson was one of the worst dancers I've ever seen on the show, they had bravura and flair and were very crowd-pleasing.

Now dancers, especially dancers at the top of their craft, are very diva-like, just like any other art form. They have honed their instrument, they have worked very hard to get to be the machine of dancing they are now. And to have that chiseled artistry thrown together with someone who has two left feet... actually who thought of this crazy show?

Well, that's the deal, and you pretty much go with it.

From the beginning, some pro dancers rose in the ranks. Among the males: Derek Hough, Maksim Chmerkovsky, Mark Ballas were among the standouts not only this season, but in seasons' past. Standouts by the virtue of THEIR dancing, and THEIR choreography. All stunning to watch on stage, while, to varying degrees, their partners could be dreadful.

Maks seems to work best when he's got a sexual vibe going with the woman he's dancing with. Whether or not he and Erin Andrews (a few seasons back) actually had a "thing" going, they SURE seemed like they were, and (for me) that was the best Maks season to watch. When I think of memorable Maks' choreography, that number with Erin in the bed really stands out.

But they did not win.

Last season, Maks had Kirstie Alley. They were amazing fun to watch together. Kirstie was a great dancer (IMHO). She even acknowledged Maks' rampant sexuality (on the show and on Twitter) and they got as close as Maks has ever gotten to the mirror ball trophy: second place. And there was some very public griping by Maks last season about how that win was rigged, and he deserved to win. (Charlie Sheen moment #1, actually.)

But here's the reality: He has NEVER, not once in all these seasons, won the mirror ball trophy that they are striving for.

The trainwreck he had this season was a "soccer star" named Hope Solo. They had no sexual chemistry at all (Maks' failsafe), and very little other chemistry. She also had two left feet. They appeared to be butting heads constantly.

All of this came to a head a couple of weeks ago, when... well, first, let me explain. The judges have to be a bit (what I call) "LA." They can't just come right out and say: "Hope, you suck." Maybe that would be a better show if they did. But they have to think of inventive creative LA ways of saying, "YOU SUCK." So, on this particular week, Len (always the sternest, though fairest, judge) decides to say something about the heel level of Hope's shoes. Much had been made this season about this tomboyish girl not being comfortable with the girlishness of dance. She did seem uncomfortable in the heels they put her in every week.

So this particular week, they were dancing to a song from "Rent," and they put Hope in a sort of boot thing, with a lower heel. And Len was accurate. She did dance better in them. So, trying to make a silk purse from this smelly sow's ear, he said something about her heel height, RATHER Maks than saying, "HOPE, you really suck," which is what he should've said if he was ACTUALLY talking about her dancing.

But Maks decided he'd had enough, and decided to go off on Len right then and there, since Len was commenting on stupid stuff like heels, instead of talking about the dancing (Maks should really be thankful here he didn't). Len says something about being in this business for "fifty years." Maks says: "Maybe you should get out of it then."

That was Charlie Sheen moment number 2. First, let me dissect the gravity of this here. Charlie Sheen, first was on drugs and/or bipolar. Second, he was in an interview situation. Maks was right there, in the MIDDLE OF THE SHOW, on air, dissing Len. That's something you just don't DO in California, in show business, and survive. Make no mistake, he was, in that moment, doing the exact same thing Charlie Sheen did. He was dissing his coworkers ON AIR.

He compounded his heinous mistake further (Charlie Sheen moment number 3) when they were interviewed by Brooke Burke as they were getting their scores. He actually said the words, "It's MY show." Behind Maks as he was saying this, you could see Derek Hough, Derek who's actually WON three mirror ball trophies, and counting, Derek, who's gone further than Maks every season he's been in it, Derek, who actually knows how to work with whatever celebrity is thrown at him and not have public meltdowns... Derek looked horrified at what Maks was saying.

If that show is "anyone's show": it's Derek's.

The next week, damage done, Maks tried to redeem himself by saying that, no, the crew work very hard. He (Maks) doesn't do it alone. Still not apologizing to the judges. Still pissy in his routines with Hope (which, btw, STILL SUCKED). Through a bizarre twist of fate (some team dance nonsense), the week Hope Solo should've gone home ended up being David Arquette instead (so sad!).

So, the week after the crew apology, obviously the judges and Maks had a little sit-down and/or talking to by the higher ups (those whose show it ACTUALLY is). Maks came back chastened (host Tom Bergeron called him "Stepford Maks"). The judges, notably Len, WAY overgraded Hope, giving her nines, for God's sake.

This past week, when we were finally put out of our misery, they gave her eights, and Len said "We were being nice." (They were!)

But here's the real point. The damage has been done.

If I were running Dancing with the Stars, I would damn sure have Maksim Chmerkovsky sit out a season (at least). Put his lovely brother in, in his stead. Let Maks reflect on how damn lucky he is to have a job dancing on national TV. Let him be grateful that there are judges judging him at all. Let him get in touch with the fact that the "celebrities" (D-list though they are) are what people tune in for.

I also noticed that in the week of the blowout, the opening credits had the celebrity named with their pro dancer. It said: "Hope and Maks." "Ricki and Derek." "David and Kym." After Maks' blowout, they changed it. It still had the pros' picture, but not their name anymore. Not your show, Maks. Not any pro dancers' show.

The real blowout reverberations have not yet ended, mark my words. After all, Charlie Sheen got fired for exactly this. Maks is great as a dancer, but boy does he need to regroup.

At least a season.

And while they are replacing people, I sincerely hope they ALSO get rid of the tired and annoying Brooke Burke. She can barely read the teleprompter, she asks stupid questions. All she does is look good. The show would be much better served to have the wonderful and amazing Tom Bergeron with someone who can actually think on their feet, maybe someone who's a dancer, who can ask insightful dance questions, instead of: "What's going to be going through your head next week?" Who the hell knows the answer to that question, lady?

It's really a shame, because DWTS has this amazing set this year. Fabulous lighting, costumes, camerawork, even great pros. But it was really soured by Maks' antics, and Brooke's vapidity. Oh sorry, Brooke Burke CHARVAY. Sigh. Dear God, help us.

Hey, maybe they can get that host from So You Think You Can Dance, who actually got an Emmy nom this year? Ain't no way Brooke Burke would ever get one. But that sure would be a team, huh?

I'm looking forward to the finals next week. Whoever wins, it will be wonderful. If Cheryl Burke wins, that would be amazing that she's winning with Rob Kardashian. If Karina Smirnoff wins, it would be her FIRST mirror ball trophy (and I'm kinda rooting for her for that). But most likely, three-time winner Derek Hough will four-peat (with Ricki Lake). After all, it's really HIS show. Watch next week. You'll see why.


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