Exclusive: The "Plan B" to Keep Injured Stars in the Game
Tony Dovolani and Susan Lucci
Is the set of Dancing with the Stars cursed? "Oh no, don't say that!" cries birthday girl Toni Braxton, who turned 41 on the day of this week's results show.
Isn't it interesting that going into Season 7, the two dancers we thought would have the most trouble surviving this marathon were Cloris Leachman and Toni Braxton? Leachman, because of her advanced age, and Braxton because of her heart condition. But as we wrap up the third week, those two are laughing all the way to the safety zone of the Red Room while other stars – and pros – are dropping around them. "Maybe there's a floorboard out of place because too many injuries have happened in the same place," says Rocco DiSpirito, looking at the middle of the dance floor.
In case you haven't been counting, Dancing with the Stars has weathered five injuries so far: Pro Karina Sminoff's sprained ankle and comedian Jeff Ross' scratched cornea (Week 1), Susan Lucci's twisted ankle, pro Derek Hough hitting the back of his head on the ballroom floor during rehearsals, and Misty May-Treanor rupturing her Achilles tendon (all in Week 3).
May-Treanor, of course, was stopped in her tracks and had to undergo surgery Tuesday morning to repair the tendon. The injured Smirnoff, Hough, Ross and Lucci were able to dance through their pain. But the show has one other emergency contingency plan – we'll call it Plan B – that it hasn't had to use. Yet.
Here now, an exclusive look at Plan B.
Let's say that a star – like Ross and Lucci – is injured during any one of the three last rehearsals that take place on the show's main stage before the show goes live on Monday night. And let's say that the star isn't hurt badly enough to leave the show – but doesn't feel well enough to dance that night. In that case, says host Tom Bergeron, the stars have the option of airing their rehearsal footage.
"That's why we're always running cameras during those blocking rehearsals," says Bergeron. "They might be wearing jeans and have curlers in their hair. But they know that if something happens, the producers will say, ‘If you're cool with this, and you can't dance, we'll run the rehearsal footage.' And the judges will look at that and base their scores on that."
The way this season is going, look out for Plan B.