Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: Ryan Seacrest?!
Bruno Tonioli by Kelsey McNeal/ABC
was in rare form Tuesday night. In an interview with TV Guide just moments after the show, he let loose on the male stars of Season 6, calling them "lazy bastards." Apart from R&B star
, Tonioli says he was not impressed by the quality of dancing on the season-opener. "I'm so relieved seeing the girls," says Tonioli, "because the boys needed a kick in the ass. Mario was the only one who really sparkled. The others? They were lazy bastards. Sorry, but it's true. They did the dances, but not enough. You're not going to get away with that on
Dancing with the Stars
. And if you try, we're going to go after you."
This isn't the first time, of course, that the first dances of the season have been less than stellar.... The efforts of Master P., Kenny Mayne and Billy Ray Cyrus come to mind. So why is Tonioli so wound up this time? Maybe because now,
is the No. 2 show in the land and we've grown to expect more. Maybe it's because on Tuesday night, the show was up against heavyweight ratings champ
. Or maybe it's because the ballroom didn't seem to catch fire until the female stars strapped on their dancing shoes. "The men just weren't delivering," says Tonioli. "We do understand if there is technically room for improvement. But you've got to come out here and
us something. 'OK' is not good enough."
The female stars, on the other hand, pleased him enormously. "Look what
did!" says Tonioli. "She didn't skimp. She did a very difficult dance. She was in character, she took risks, and she worked hard.
]! Incredible. Life-affirming.
? Blew my mind... the precision, the synchronization. So I think now the boys have gotten a reality check. Now we're in business."
Ballroom great Corky Ballas (Mark Ballas' father) shares Tonioli's opinion. "I thought the bar was set so much higher tonight," says Ballas. "The energy in the room was completely different. Priscilla was dancing like a 30-year-old. Kristi was kind of flawless, elegant."
Mario, the only one to pass muster with Bruno, sized up his new competition. "The women were hot, they killed it!" he says. "Priscilla was the most graceful out of all of them. Kristi had the best steps and choreography. Marlee, what she did and her mental attitude was just amazing. She came out here and performed her butt off. The game is
Here's what else you didn't get to see on Tuesday night:
" During dress rehearsals,
Idol's Ryan Seacrest
(who was waiting for his show to go live in the studio down the hall) crashed the ballroom and "took over" from host Tom Bergeron, reading his lines from the teleprompter. "I wish we could do it for real on the show," says Bergeron, "with me faking laryngitis."
" Just before show time, an expectant
Lisa Marie Presley
, looking chic and wearing tons of bling, slid into her ringside seat alongside her husband, Michael Lockwood. "I was so glad they were there," says Priscilla after the show. "But I couldn't look at them because it would've thrown me off completely."
" The six male celebs, led by NFL great
, gave tennis star
a standing ovation after her fox-trot. "The guys are definitely trailing," says Taylor, after seeing the women dance. But Seles was devastated by getting the lowest score of the night (15 out of 30) and broke down in tears after the show. "It's disappointing after working so hard," says Seles. "I know I tried my best and I guess the tears just had to come out." Asked if she had ever cried after losing a tennis match, Seles says, "Oh, yes. If it was hard, if it was close. I let my emotions out on the court. What you see is what you get."
" During a commercial break,
grabbed the microphone from the warm-up comic. Carolla did an impromptu stand-up routine on how warm-up guys do nothing but sleep in and cash their checks. "You people are the reason we dance," Carolla told the audience. "Not the warm-up guy who is
" After the show, Zack Wilson,
's former fiancé (and one of the recent winners of
Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann
), folded Hough in his arms and gave her a big hug. "They're still very close," says Hough's father, Bruce, who is relieved that his daughter, 19, didn't marry at such a young age. "Her career right now is a rocket ship," says Bruce, "and she knew that she couldn't be married because her life is changing so fast. But we all love Zack."
Marissa Jaret Winokur
's older brother, Mark, took endless pictures as his ebullient sister worked the press line. "She's lovable, adorable, sweet and kind," he says. "You should have seen her at the Tonys. She didn't expect to win the Tony. You never expect to win something like that."
" Marlee Matlin's husband, L.A. police detective Kevin Grandalski, was beaming as he watched his wife dance the cha cha. He was the one who talked Matlin into doing the show. "I was amazed," he says afterwards. "I'd never seen her rehearse, so this is the first time I saw her dance. I knew she could do it. Her deafness isn't a limit to doing anything." Grandalski says the family knows how to show Matlin the love: They have a special leg and foot massager that Matlin "can sit in for hours when she comes home." -
Deborah Starr Seibel