Behind the Scenes of Dancing at Paley Fest '08
So many dances, so many stars and so little time. With so much to cover in the
Dancing with the Stars
canon, it was hard to imagine how the cast and producers would pull off discussion about it in just one hour. But at the Paley Fest Friday evening, the attendees and moderator -
's Mark Steines - offered myriad behind-the-scenes war stories, details of how they make the magic happen and their personal perspectives on the
experiences. Their combined comments gave us spectators in the Cinerama Dome a little behind-the-scenes glimpse of the show, as well as a warm, feel-good vibe about its unique ability to appeal to people of all ages and demographics. Did I get warm fuzzies? Maybe....
Here are some of the best moments of the evening:
Cristián de la Fuente, Cheryl Burke, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Derek Hough, Kristi Yamaguchi, Julianne Hough, Drew Lachey, Jane Seymour, exec producer Conrad Green, judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli, and hosts Samantha Harris and Tom Bergeron.
Alums, meet newbies:
With so many people on stage (13 on the panel, plus Steines) made up of mostly alums and show staff, it was natural that the three newbies who were present were mostly silent throughout the proceedings, with a few notable exceptions.
This line of discussion more or less began with Bruno defending his bluntness. "I'm not there to kiss somebody's butt," he said. He insisted that if he wasn't honest, the show "wouldn't work." Goodman also pointed out that each judge looks for something different: Carrie Ann for the beauty of a dance, Bruno for the passion and Goodman himself (a self-described "fuddy-duddy Englishman") for the technicalities. Together, they balance out. Bruno conceded, though, that they all have their personal faves.
How hard is the competition, really?:
Harder than you think. Cristián de la Fuente, who was largely silent, became animated on the topic. Apparently, even his days in the Chilean air force with officers who were extra-tough on him for being on TV (read: wimpy on the AFB?) couldn't compare to his days with Cheryl Burke. Who knew she was that tough? Then again, he could also be playing it up to counterbalance the fact that he now appears on TV in skin-tight unitards with plunging necklines, but that's just a guess.
Those hot bodies:
All this time, I thought that the contestants on the show had perfectly even skin-tone and taut muscles naturally. As it turns out, each dancer gets a full-body spray tan before the show - an experience that Jane Seymour recalled as traumatic, being that she had to stand in the buff for the sprayers.
Second (and this should come as no surprise), I'm betting that the
Dancing with the Stars
diet might be the next big craze. The dance rehearsals are so intense that Lachey said he could eat pie for breakfast and drink beer non-stop - and still lose 15 pounds over the course of the season. OK, he was exaggerating, but just about the pie.
Those amazing costumes:
Each one is custom-made, every week, for every dancer. The work on them goes on right up to the minutes before the show, with final touches of sequins and other details. The costume-makers create the new duds within just a couple of days.
Speaking of costumes:
As he's mentioned before, it's the pesky last-minute addition of the costumes that Derek said contributed to his infamous slip-up with Jennie Garth. They'd never practiced with costumes before, and he wasn't ready for the dress fabric that tripped them both up.
How pros manage their charges:
Situations like Derek and Jennie's exemplify Cheryl's point that the big unknown before hitting the dance floor is how your celeb partner handles pressure. Or, for that matter, anything else. Derek sees the pros' jobs as part dance teacher, part life coach. Julianne confided that dealing with Helio, for example, was trying. He didn't listen to her until she proved she knew a thing or two about dance (and apparently cross-referenced some of her teachings with Derek)... but eventually came around.
Pro and celebrity pairings:
One member of the audience suggested that perhaps winners of previous seasons were paired with seemingly lesser-abled celeb partners the following year (at which point Cristián just got up and pretended to leave the stage). After that uncomfortable moment (during which there was an audible gasp from the audience), Green laid out their logical thinking, starting with height, but focusing on the chemistry.
This, ultimately, is the heart of what makes watching dance interesting (and, obviously, the best part of
). According to the panel, it's the key to their success. The contestants know how to fake it, though: The final question of the evening was whether, after working so closely for so many weeks, a little attraction didn't creep in. According to those assembled, the answer was not even a little bit. Dancing is like acting: At the end of the day, you're feigning the passion, just like in movies. But for us in the audience (um, and Cristián fans), I'll buy it, any day.
- Anna Dimond
Lots more Paley Festival coverage:
Laughter, Tears and (Yikes!) Tension at Buffy Reunion
Roush Dispatch: A Salute to Buffy
Friday Night Lights Renewal Imminent?
Major Chuck Scoop, Spoilers and... Van Damme!?
Daisies Pushing for a "More Aggressive" Season 2
Watch video: Red-carpet interviews!