Backstage at Dancing With the Stars: Pros React to Bruno's Harsh Comments
This was not your typical Dancing With the Stars elimination. The stars and their pro partners were unusually upset by the ouster of crooner Michael Bolton — and even more upset by judge Bruno Tonioli's devastating comments on Bolton's performance the night before, including, "I think this is the worst jive in all 11 seasons."
"Bruno was totally out of line," said pro Louis Van Amstel. "And then he put more wood on the fire tonight, talking about it, and confirming that he meant it. And then when Michael said that Bruno's comments were disrespectful? Yes! Good for Michael."
Bolton hopped a plane to Napa directly after the show, getting ready for another performance in his 115-city national tour. That left his saddened partner, Chelsie Hightower, to do the post-mortem. "I thought for sure the public would rally," she said, banking on the fact that in most cases, when the judges are particularly harsh with a contestant, the viewers take charge by casting sympathy votes. "So this is hard. And it's more than just going home the second week. It's about going home on the note that we did. We both wanted to come back so badly and show that Michael could do a better job."
"It made me sad because he was trying just as hard as the next person," said Jennifer Grey. "The thing with Bruno," said pro Derek Hough, "is that he comes out with these one-liners, which are outrageous and crazy. I think last night it was a fine line, and he just crossed it a little bit. And it hurts."
Pro Cheryl Burke also expressed disappointment. "If Michael Bolton didn't work hard, then maybe I could understand it," she said. "But he was the last person leaving the [rehearsal] studio every night. He put in 7-8 hours every day. Chelsie wouldn't get home until two in the morning."
"He was my buddy here," said comedian Margaret Cho. "He and I are similar in that we're both live performers, and we're both on tour right now. So we're both exhausted and finding in a lot of comfort when we get back to the stage, to the realm of what we usually do."
After his disappointing performance Monday night, this reporter asked Bolton if he rued the day that he'd signed on for the show. "I'm not in a rueful state of mind," he said. "Dance is an alien realm for me and something I've always avoided. Now I'm trying to embrace something that was terrifying to me, and trying to overcome it."
So even if he gets skewered by the judges, it's okay? "Yes," said Bolton. "I've had choreographers come onto the set of my videos and it didn't work because my concentration was always on the singing, the vocalizing, so I was distracted. But now I'm enjoying integrating movement into my show. And that gives me more incentive to be a better entertainer."
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