Dancing's Maksim: I'm Happy to Be with Debi Mazar — and Not "Silly" Joanna Krupa
Maksim Chmerkovskiy may have met his perfect match — and we're not talking about Karina Smirnoff. The Dancing with the Stars pro is paired with the feisty Debi Mazar, and if you've seen Mazar's multiple tweets praising him to no end, it's clear they get along famously. "I think since we're both from Brooklyn and have that similarity, we just get along," Chmerkovskiy tells TVGuide.com. "We both can dish it out like hell and we can both take it. This whole back-and-forth thing is great and whenever you meet somebody who can make fun of themselves, it's always refreshing." Not so refreshing? Joanna Krupa calling him "a little impatient." See what the unabashedly honest dancer has to say about her comments and find out who he thinks is a dark horse this season.
TVGuide.com: How's Debi doing?
Maksim Chmerkovskiy: She's doing great. We're having fun. Well, we're having a lot of fun. She's really funny. She talks a lot. The energy's great. I think 50 percent of the accomplishment is how you can get along because it's a really long season and you want to spend it with somebody you're cool with. From the past seasons, we know the audience also likes the banter, the personalities who get along and show fun and excitement.
TVGuide.com: So are you saying you didn't get along with some of your partners?
Chmerkovskiy: Well, clearly, I didn't get along with at least one, but we won't go into that! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What are your first dances?
Chmerkovskiy: This season, everything is a little bit different. On Monday, I think only male celebrities dance — or the other way around — and on Tuesday, the female celebrities dance. So the solo performance will be the salsa. Then there will be a group performance, which will be a relay dance. It will be four couples and each couple does a 30-second routine. Our relay dance will be the foxtrot. I don't know which couples we'll dance with.
TVGuide.com: Joanna Krupa said she was glad she wasn't paired with you because she thought you would butt heads and said you were a little impatient. What do you have to say to that?
Chmerkovskiy: She doesn't even know me. I'm very happy we're not partners. If she wants to jump on the bandwagon of thinking I'm impatient, that's fine by me. My focus is Debi. It's silly of [Joanna] to say that since she's never said a word to me. ... People always think, "Wow, Maks is so mean." I'm not mean. Yes, I'll be frustrated, but I know what to get out of this person so we'll be there Thursday. If I was always nice, pleasant and not educating my partner, then they won't get out of this show what they themselves want. What happens is people sign up not knowing what exactly they're signing up for. When they're freaking out, I go, "Listen, if you do exactly what I say, you'll be fine." Sometimes we need to push our partners because that's what they want us to do.
TVGuide.com: You and Joanna never talked during The Superstars?
Chmerkovskiy: No. You know what I did on The Superstars? I would wake up... [and go] out to the event. Kristi [Leskinen, his partner] and I will talk about our strategy and warm up. We'll do the event and I'll go back to my room. I went to bed at, like, 6, 7 in the evening. And we won! But I didn't speak one word to Joanna during the season and I haven't spoken to her one word since we've been here. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy we didn't get partnered up. I wish them a lot of luck.
TVGuide.com: How's the new rehearsal limit working out?
Chmerkovskiy: People don't follow that. [Laughs] They rehearse as much and as little as they need. [Producers] try to say that we need a break now, but what are they going to do? Kick us out of the room? No. The thing is that it falls on the professionals to make sure you take injury-preventative steps. With Debi, I always ask how she's feeling, how her feet are, are you sore or whatever. If she says her calf hurts, I say, "OK, how about today we dance in flats?" You have to be conscious of the strain on your partner and you.
TVGuide.com: Last season, you got some heat for saying Melissa Rycroft had an unfair advantage. There are some people on this season with a dance background.
Chmerkovskiy: I don't think it's unfair that anybody's on. I just thought it was strange that a show about struggling [to dance] and making it into "Hey, look at me now!" has slowly turned into, "If you have the experience, great. If you don't, you're going to have to pull it out of somewhere." But no matter what, it's always about the viewers' vote. Sabrina Bryan got eliminated Week  and it was completely undeserving. Stacy Keibler and Melissa both had training. Mel B. was thought to have the most experience — which is not true because I was on the inside and I knew what we had to deal with — but it doesn't matter. People's perception was that she was a dancer, but we didn't win. At the end of the day, it's about what people think, what they want and who they want to win.
TVGuide.com: Who do you think you need to watch out for?
Chmerkovskiy: Donny Osmond — he has a fanbase that's so massive that he doesn't even need to dance, period. I think he'll do great. He's a great entertainer. Also, people like him bring popularity to the show and we all have a job! [Laughs] Kym [Johnson, Osmond's partner] and the types of dances she does, it will be fun watching him do them. Mya — Dmitry [Chaplin, Mya's partner] will hopefully be able to pull it out of her. I think Mark Dacascos, on paper, is great. I remember watching him doing his thing with Jet Li. He could be one of the dark horses people don't think about. I think Debi will be great. [She could be] a dark horse too.
TVGuide.com: Do you know how Karina and Aaron Carter are doing?
Chmerkovskiy: Yeah, Aaron should be great too. Aaron's young, capable, he wants it and Karina wants it. So she finally has a partner that's able. [Laughs] He's physically able to do these things. So it'll be fun. Aaron, Mark, Donny and Mya are probably frontrunners and then everybody else, we'll see.
TVGuide.com: You and Karina just finished your run on Burn the Floor. Will you ever go back? The sales skyrocketed during your stint.
Chmerkovskiy: Yeah, we're thinking if we get offered, we'll do it. It's an accomplishment. Broadway participation for an entertainer or for a dancer like me, it's something I've dreamt of my entire life. To be on it and get name recognition and the fact that the sales were through the roof, it's so amazing. The second we left, sales dropped, so I'm really trying everything I can to help the production. It's the most amazing group of people to be around and I want them to succeed.