Dancing with the Stars

Never one to mince words, Maksim Chmerkovskiy has a few choice ones about Melissa Rycroft as Nancy O'Dell's last-minute replacement on Dancing with the Stars. Find out what he thinks of her casting, as well as his upcoming wedding to Dancing pro Karina Smirnoff — and if he really made Denise Richards cry.

TVGuide.com: Your cha-cha got an 18. How do you think it went?
Maksim:
I think she did great. I always dismiss the first dance because nobody really knows what it's like. She's not really the kind of celebrity that would get eliminated any time soon, so for us it was OK. We tried our best. She had a hard time relaxing, which was totally understandable. I know she's not an "18" kind of dancer. She can improve and she definitely puts in the hours to do so. I think [our quickstep] is gonna put us up there as one of the frontrunners, but it's a long, long, long season, so you never know what's gonna happen.

TVGuide.com: Just so we're clear — you did not make her cry in rehearsals.
Maksim:
Of course not! It's a show and it's like eeny-meeny-miney-mo! Today's the day we're gonna show you crying. [Laughs] Everybody cries! To subject yourself publicly, it's a lot of pressure and I find nothing wrong with a little bit of tears. ... It's not the [fault of the] dancers, but the celebrities who are under so much pressure, stress and expectations that this is what comes out when it all boils over. But we're having a lot of fun. We're laughing a lot. We're serious a lot. I am kinda like a class clown.

TVGuide.com: You're a class clown? Do you pull pranks on her?
Maksim:
[Laughs] No. She's now laughing at my inability to compliment, which is not true. I actually compliment! We were working on one step. I said, "That was perfect!" And she said, "Wait a minute! Did you guys hear he said it was perfect?" I was like, "Yeah, but that was five seconds of the routine!" It was, like, one of those backhanded compliments. So now she's like, "You know what? Don't compliment me." [Laughs] We're just having fun.

TVGuide.com: How does Denise compare to your past partners?
Maksim:
She is just as good. My biggest worry was that she'd be a little too Hollywood, but she's definitely not. I've always said [my ideal partner] has to be a mix of Mel B.'s personality and Misty [May-Treanor]'s and Laila [Ali]'s ability to train for hours. I think I found that in Denise. She definitely puts in an insane amount of time in the studio. [On Thursday,] I ended rehearsals because her feet hurt, but she didn't want to stop.

TVGuide.com: You don't want her to get injured.
Maksim:
Exactly. Each season is better than the one before, so celebrities work harder because they want to outdo their predecessors. We're coming on the heels of a very successful season with Brooke [Burke] doing an amazing job. They're pushing themselves harder now, so we as pros need to moderate that push.

TVGuide.com: After seeing everyone dance, who impressed you?
Maksim:
I was very impressed with Lil Kim. I thought she did an amazing job. She got totally screwed with the score because she went first so they were conservative on her.

TVGuide.com: What do you think of Holly Madison and Melissa Rycroft?
Maksim:
Do I have to answer that? [Laughs] It's very hard for me because Tony [Dovolani] is my best friend, but if we're gonna call it what it is, it's very unfair because Melissa's a dancer — she was a cheerleader and did ballet. That's what I would love to end. Holly — I thought she did a good job with no time to prepare. She looks very confident.

TVGuide.com: Karina's outfit was very revealing. Did you pick that out for her?
Maksim:
[Laughs] I did not pick that out! But I thought her costume was amazing. Incredible. I was very proud of how good of a job she did with Steve [Wozniak]. I don't know what it's like to have somebody like that as your partner because I was kinda blessed with very good partners. To see that from her was very impressive.

TVGuide.com: She said Steve is the nicest guy in the world. Is she not counting you?
Maksim:
We were laughing about that afterwards. He may be the nicest guy in the world and I'm totally fine with not being the nicest in the world. But I'm definitely something enough that she said yes. So I can't get upset at that! [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: The show's playing up the romance angle this season. Do you think it's fair Julianne and Chuck are competing together?
Maksim:
Sweetie, I think there are a lot of things with the show that's unfair. But what I think is irrelevant. I'm doing my job with whoever I'm given. You know, Steve's an amazing guy and incredibly friendly. He's very entertaining, he's trying his best and I've never seen anyone work harder than Steve. Having said that, he probably won't be in the semifinal or final. I think Karina deserves to be partnered with someone she has a chance with.

TVGuide.com: How are wedding plans coming along?
Maksim:
We're talking about it. It's obviously very difficult because we have no idea what we're doing tomorrow. But I want to be married by the end of the year. She agrees with it. It's just a matter of finding the right weekend or week or whatever's required. Also, I have no idea what goes into planning one.

TVGuide.com: What's gonna be your first dance?
Maksim:
Well, we're professional dancers, so should we be dancing? [Laughs] I honestly believe we are just gonna do one of those cute back-and-forth things. ... But do you know what we do to relax? We don't dance! So I think we may do something else.

TVGuide.com: If you have kids, will they be dancers?
Maksim:
I would definitely want kids. Would they be dancers? I dunno. That's up to them. If they show interest, I will push them do the best. I was not brought up in a dancer's family. I was brought up in a family where the mentality was whatever you do, you gotta try to be the best at it.

TVGuide.com: They could eventually be pros on Dancing.
Maksim:
I am slightly hoping that wouldn't be the case. [Laughs]