Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dancing with the gangsters

Disturbing things happening in the world today. Hamas won an election. Iran is rattling sabers and allegedly is in the final stages of developing nuclear weapons. China is dealing with internal disturbances. The genocide goes on in Darfur. And Master P has made a mockery of "Dancing with the Stars".

DWTS is now in its second season. It's a way for B and C list celebrities to get some exposure while competing against each other in rumba, foxtrot, tango, etc. They are judged by a panel of three experienced judges and response from the TV audience - supposedly each is weighted equally in determining standings. Each week the lowest-scoring competitor is voted off.

Each celeb has a professional partner for practice and performance. Most of them seem to take if fairly seriously in terms of effort - after all, the longer they last the more exposure they get. In the latest competition some of them allegedly have spent as much as 130 hours practicing so far, and we're only 4 weeks in.

And then there was Master P. He wound up entering as a last-minute substitution, so it's fair to cut him some slack. He certainly needed it.

Week 1. Two people emerged from the pack as truly sorry - Kenny Mayne from ESPN and P. Mayne got the axe. The judges noted that P could do better with more appropriate shoes. Centimillionaire P noted he was from the 'hood, in New Orleans, he suggested donations for post Katrina cleanup, and by the way he sold his own shoes. Meanwhile Tatum O'Neal got an excellent score. .

Week 2. Ex NBA athlete P put in another pitiful performance. Tatum O'Neal was dumped. Giselle Fernandez put in a fine performance for the 2nd week straight, but in an interview she expressed fear that she had little natural fan base to support her.

Week 3. P did a little better, but still stunk out loud. Giselle Fernandez was dumped. One of the judges said openly that it was time for P to go. Competitor George Hamilton (no dance hero himself) joked about his "'hood". P noted that he had a new release out.

Week 4. P was an utter disgrace, putting on a paso doble which amounted to him flatfootedly following his partner around the floor. The judges reamed him but good, and said that the people at home who were voting to keep him alive weren't doing him any favors. Someone mentioned that to this point P had spent a grand total of 20 hours learning 4 new dances, vs. as many as 130 for others. P suggested that the judges "hated", and worked in a couple more plugs for his enterprises. Would he survive another week?

No, yesterday night they finally dumped him. Given that the judges scored him at 8 and the second lowest (Tia Carrere) was 21, apparently audience support wasn't enough. Either that or it's my favorite case of election fraud.

Ballroom dancing is well established worldwide, with elaborate rules and expectations. You don't have to know them to enjoy it, but you should at least respect them, especially if you're going to compete. Arguably P wasn't even any good at whatever he *was* doing, and that certainly wasn't anything like what he had signed on for.

So why did he last so long? Near as I can tell, he's a good enough guy who got along well with everybody. He was a last minute sub, so he deserved some allowance. His professional partner, Ashly DelGrosso, is very likable herself - she was on the first show too and busted her butt carrying a difficult partner then too, so she probably has some sympathy voting herself.

Was P the worst? He had some competition - Kenny Mayne had better keep his day job. George Hamilton is getting by out of effort and personal popularity and should have been the next to go after Kenny and P. Tatum O'Neal would have lasted longer, and near-anonymous Giselle Fernandez was robbed. Bottom line - there was no reason for P to survive past week 2.

The others? Jerry Rice won't win, but he's clearly putting in some effort. Tia Carrere delivered a baby just before the contest started and isn't back in actress trim yet, but she has worked hard too. Lisa Rinna looks good, has some talent and arguably has the best partner (Louis Van Amstel) there - she might be a dark horse.

But the clear front runners are Drew Lachey and Stacy Keibler. It's tough to handicap them, but I'll go for Ms. Keibler if only because her partner, Tony Dovolani, is much more successful and more experienced than Lachey's. (Lachey's partner is good for sure, but she is still competing in the minor-league Rising Star ranks). And it doesn't hurt Ms. Keibler one bit that she's 100% pure eye candy from head to toe - she's definitely not your father's lady wrestler.

Anyway, by now the riff-raff is gone, so this is as good a time as any to start watching "Dancing with the Stars". Performances are on Thursdays and executions are on Fridays. What are you waiting for?

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