Billy Ray Cyrus

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May 8, 2007: Happy Trails

Billy Ray said he was getting ready to appear on Jimmy Kimmel later tonight, and time preparing for that was not time wasted. Yes, it seemed like he had wanted to go for a few weeks now, yet I don’t think he ever gave up in this competition. He gave each performance his all; it’s just that ultimately that wasn’t good enough. But his effort was impressive, as was his charm. I’ll admit I was no Billy Ray Cyrus fan when this season of Dancing with the Stars started — I used to mock his popular "Achy Breaky" song and his mullet back in the day. But then, around week two in this competition, he won me over with his dedication and spirited performance: He was crowned “most improved” and danced a pretty decent dance (and was looking cuter than he did back in his breakout heyday of the early ‘90s). I didn’t see that initial turnaround coming, and so for a while there I was rooting him on. It would have been nice if he continued to improve each we... read more

Dancing with the Stars: Charisma Couldn't Save Billy Ray

Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff, Dancing with the Stars

It was the first time that the grin was wiped off Joey Fatone's face. There was a gasp in the ballroom during Tuesday's Dancing with the Stars, when his name was called out as the second dancer to be scorched by the "red light of shame" in the bottom two. "I didn't see that one coming," said one man seated in the audience. He, like everyone else, expected Fatone to be the sort of Teflon entertainer who would never be stuck with possible elimination. Fatone himself was clearly shaken. He was the only dancer to get a standing ovation in Week 1. And every week since then, he's heard his name screamed out by adoring fans. While it's true that fans have also fallen hard for Apolo Anton Ohno, La read more

May 7, 2007: Daddy's Girl and Jessie's Girl

Emotions ran high on and off the dance floor last night, running the gamut from sentimental dedications to insults taken too personally. Let’s start with the good before we proceed to the bad and ugly. The guest we’ve been waiting for all season was finally in the audience: Muhammad Ali, on hand to support his daughter. Laila dedicated her performances to her mom and dad, and she had an extra sparkle in her eye all night. She began and ended her lovely waltz like Sleeping Beauty, and at one point blew a kiss to her dad. I was reminded of Jerry Springer’s emotional waltz last season — the waltz is fast becoming the father-daughter dance of this show. Carrie Ann commented that she always looks for emotion in dancing, and she felt Laila truly delivered that with this performance. Next up was Laila’s jive, which was fun and lively (Laila confessed she was happy she didn’t have to deliver any extra-sexy performances with daddy in the audience). I did notice ... read more

Having Fun

So this week John Ratzenberger got sent home. People may not remember, but he did step in at the very last moment to replace Vincent Pastore, and even though he was playing catch up, he had a really positive attitude about this experience, and was sort of the father figure of the crew. So it was sad to see him go. I know Billy was on the chopping block with John and I would have felt awful if Billy got sent home since this past week he took time out of his rehearsal to hang with me a little and help me loosen up. I had a blast learning the bubba chicken (I had no idea what I was doing but I certainly had fun doing it), and I think Billy's fun-loving attitude really helped me relax and start having more fun.Believe it or not, I think the fact that we had two dances to learn this week gave me the chance to stop stressing. There just wasn't any time for me to overanalyze (which I certainly do): I learned the steps and moved on. And with Billy's help, I had fun, too! If I get sent home ... read more

April 30, 2007: Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun

Remember that episode of 90210 where Steve entered a dance competition and Brandon, Kelly and Donna cheered him on? No? OK, it never happened, but it sort of felt like such an episode last night when founding members of what Tom dubbed the “90210 Alumni Association” were in the audience supporting Ian. I don’t know if it was their cheers or Billy Ray’s tutoring, but whatever it was, it worked. Ian finally came alive on the dance floor! His first dance was good and showed marked improvement from last week; his second dance was even better. For weeks now, Ian’s had the moves down but has been unable to sell his performances. Last night that all changed and the judges took notice, telling him he finally had fun out there and was authentic and “enjoyable to watch.” Most importantly, they pointed out that he and Cheryl had some real chemistry for the first time.Perhaps this means Joey will no longer be able to say, “If you become too serious, you b... read more

April 23, 2007: All the World's a Stage

Let’s jump right to the highlight of the night: the group swing was 100 percent fun, perhaps the best group dance that involved the celebrities in the past four seasons of Dancing with the Stars. Everyone was so into the performance that the energy was contagious. Even more impressive was how well they gelled as a group (even Heather and Jonathan, who missed the group practice). The couples all played to their strengths (e.g., Ian and Cheryl did back-to-back lifts, while Laila tossed Max aside and carried Apolo), and no one upstaged the others. Plus they all got into character and pulled off the cute little theatrical moments, such as Joey and Ian’s mock fight and the ladies all fawning over Billy Ray.Theatrics wound up playing a big part in many of the dances last night, a night in which the judges really emphasized the importance of performance. No one learned this lesson harder than Ian, who said that he was going to try to focus more on performance than technique this ... read more

Billy Ray Cyrus "Lets Loose" on the Dance Floor

Billy Ray Cyrus steps up his game on Dancing with the Stars.

Now we've got ourselves a real horse race. In the beginning of the season, the Dancing with the Stars studio audience was strongly skewed toward former 'N Sync heartthrob Joey Fatone. But as we enter Week 6, not only have two new favorites emerged — Apolo Anton Ohno and Laila Ali — but there is one very dark horse by the name of Billy Ray Cyrus who will not be denied. Cyrus has been making a habit of coming into the audience after the show and shaking hands, giving hugs. The women simply melt. "He's got the biggest heart," says his pro partner, the fiery read more

Dancing with the Stars: The Results-show Backstage Recap

Dancing with the Stars bid adieu to Shandi Finnessey and Brian Fortuna.

It's a shame the cameras weren't rolling: During one commercial break for Tuesday night's Dancing with the Stars, Billy Ray Cyrus bounded up into the bleachers to sing to a lovely, gray-haired lady from Scotland who has a thing for the "Achy Breaky" star. Branded "most improved dancer" by judge Carrie Ann Inaba, it's as though Cyrus has finally dropped the shackles of his "two left feet" mentality and is ready to cut loose.    He's not the only one. What the television audience doesn't get to see is that members of the studio audience are asked — before the show and during commercial breaks — to get up and shake their groove thing. Doesn't matter if you're 18 or 88, any kind of movement goes. And with the sound system blasting bass-hea read more

April 2, 2007: Movie Magic

I can’t go so far as to say it was an all-out theme night, but about half of last night’s celebrities got inspiration for their dances from movies. First Edyta took John Ratzenberger to a Valentino movie to get inspired for the tango. This seemed to work in terms of him getting into character for the dance. I was impressed with his facial expressions and intensity, but I think that was the strongest part of his dance. The judges pointed out that he needs to make some technical improvements, and it did seem like Edyta was working extra hard making big movements around him. He deservedly got one of the lowest scores of the evening.Movie inspiration proved far more successful for one of the top scorers of the night (there was a four-way tie), Joey Fatone. While I wasn’t crazy about the Stars Wars theme music (I found it and the lights a bit distracting), I have to acknowledge that it was a really good tango. The fact that Joey is so into Star Wars gave his performance ex... read more

Dancing with the Stars: This Week's Backstage Buzz!

Dancing with the Stars' Laila Ali

At Monday night's Dancing with the Stars, the fun began even before the big band blasted its first notes. But to get the whole picture, you need to understand a few logistics: ABC's Dancing is shot live at CBS Television City (which rents out its popular Los Angeles sound studios) and in the very same building as Fox's American Idol. What that means is that in the corridors, washrooms and elevators, stars can collide.  Which they did, tonight, when Idol's beat-boxing contestant Blake Lewis stepped out of an elevator, only to be greeted by Dancing pro Tony Dovolani. "Hey, man, how're you doing?" asked Dovolani. Dovolani congratulated Lewis on la read more

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