The Superstars, Maksim Chmerkovskiy
Maksim Chmerkovskiy has yet to claim a Dancing with the Stars title, so what's a pro dancer to do? Go for an even bigger title: the Superstars crown. Chmerkovskiy is one of eight celebrities who will be paired with eight athletes in the ABC series (premieres Tuesday, 8 pm/ET) to compete in sporting events to determine the best athlete in the world. "It's an opportunity to do something outside of the dancing realm and to do something and not be judged," he tells TVGuide.com. "Nobody can say [in Italian accent], 'That was not very good!' There's no voting, there's no Bruno, there's no Len." Chmerkovskiy, who will hit Broadway July 25 with fiancée Karina Smirnoff in Burn the Floor, is paired with freestyle skier Kristi Leskinen. See what he has to say about his first meeting with Leskinen, how wedding plans are coming along and his infamous remarks about Melissa Rycroft's inclusion on Dancing last season.
TVGuide.com: Did you know anything about Kristi beforehand?
Chmerkovskiy: Not a thing! They paired us up literally 10 minutes before the first event. I grabbed the first P.A. I could find and I'm like, "Look, I'm really sorry for this question, but what is my partner's name again?" [Laughs] I apologized. I know people from X Games, but Kristi wasn't one of them. She showed me her stuff on YouTube — Jesus Christ. I have amazing respect for Kristi. She's an incredible athlete. We clicked perfectly. I'm painfully blunt, so I told her I don't know who she is. She goes, "I know; don't worry." She's very cool.
TVGuide.com: What are some of the events you did?
Chmerkovskiy: We've done everything, including archery, bowling, running, kayaking. ... We're doing crazy stuff; we go crazy. I just saw the commercial and now I understand why people were laughing at me. In the part where they say "sizzling celebrities," they show Ali Landry and Joanna Krupa, and then they show me jumping out of the water like I'm Fabio! I'm like, "Oh my God! This looks so staged!" It wasn't. I don't even know where they got that footage. I just want to clear that up! But I can't wait to watch it.
TVGuide.com: What are the rules? Are there points?
Chmerkovskiy: It's kind of like a relay. We have to strategize who goes when and who does what. We accumulate points. We were all kind of, like, stupid[ly] playing, but Bode Miller was playing chess. He was just strategizing all day long. Some of these events, I don't even think he did. He just thought it out: "I have that many points, we need this many points to go there, so we don't need to finish first, but we can't finish last." It was like, wow, dude, you are way too intense about it. [The winners] get a trophy, the bragging rights and $100,000. That's what I think they should implement on Dancing.
TVGuide.com: That's different from Bode saying he skis while drunk a few years ago.
Chmerkovskiy: I don't know if I can say it, but whatever. During one of the events, Bode ran and he stopped halfway to have a beer! [Laughs] It was in the golf course... so he ran and decided he didn't really need those points, stopped and had a beer. Honestly, I don't know how he did it. I was just shocked at the balls on this guy. Now I know what people were saying. He's a special breed of athlete. I do not disrespect him for it. I think it's cool.
TVGuide.com: What are the chances Kristi will be your partner on Dancing?
Chmerkovskiy: Honestly, it really doesn't matter who we want, it's who they get for us. This is one aspect of Dancing with the Stars that impacts everything else.
TVGuide.com: Were you pleased with the results of last season? You said it was unfair that Melissa, with her dance background, was on and she finished third.
Chmerkovskiy: I've always been and always will be Tony [Dovolani, Melissa's partner]'s friend. When I made those comments, it was a bit of an entrapment for me. It's my fault [because I have] to learn the trade of [the media]. [I was talking] about Melissa's skills as a cheerleader and a former ballet dancer and that's when I said no, it's not [fair] — not just about Melissa. We've also had Sabrina Bryan on, who was a dancer. We've also had Stacey Keibler, who was a cheerleader. We had a bunch of people who we can say shouldn't have been on the show, so the end result was what people decided.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about Burn the Floor.
Chmerkovskiy: We're doing a limited engagement. It's a ballroom dance show, so it's exactly what we've been doing all our lives. The choreographer, Jason Gilkison, is a good friend of ours. ... I've always dreamed of being on Broadway. It also doesn't require me to learn a new trade. I can't sing, you know. [Laughs] I'm not going to go in and be a Billy Elliot. We also get to be in New York near the family. The most important thing is that my mom gets to take a picture of the poster with my name on it on Broadway.
TVGuide.com: How are the wedding plans coming along?
Chmerkovskiy: They're going well. ... We haven't set a date, but [we've set] a month, which is a big deal for two Capricorns. It's going to be next June. ... June does not sound that far away, especially now from the point we go on Broadway, we have every single day written out until the end of May.