Monday night at Dancing with the Stars, the place was lousy with celebrities. In one corner sat Ian Ziering's Beverly Hills, 90210 support group of Tori Spelling, Jason Priestley and Jennie Garth. "Those judges have just got to give it up," said Garth. "They've got to give Ian a 10!"
In another corner sat Cheech Marin and Alfonso Ribeiro. Ribeiro was rooting for Joey Fatone. Farrah Fawcett's replacement on Charlie's Angels, Cheryl Ladd, still stunning after all these years, sat in the middle, very near last year's runner-up, Mario Lopez. Did Lopez want to jump up on the dance floor? "Yeah, it'd be better than sitting out here," said Lopez. "It's a long show when you're just watching. It's a marathon."
It must've seemed shorter for judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who takes notes during every performance to organize her thoughts. After all was said and done, she showed me her note pad and ran down what was a very impressive night: Laila and Joey both racked up perfect 30s, and Ian finally scored some 9s.
Here's what Carrie Ann said about:
Laila Ali: "I‘m so happy that Laila showed us the beef!" says Inaba. "She finally let loose. I knew she had it in her. And it wasn't in the way I thought she would do it. I thought it would be this very powerful and dramatic thing. But it was very light and elegant and graceful."
Apolo Anton Ohno: "Apolo had a rough night tonight," says Inaba. "I think Len was a little hard on him for the first round [the fox trot]. But Len is the ballroom expert, so maybe he saw things that Bruno and I didn't. But I think that critique rattled Apolo a little bit. Tonight, he had a bit of the Ian syndrome, in that he was in his head. And then he was off rhythm, he was dancing ahead of the beat, and he and Julianne weren't connecting. They were out of sorts with each other."
Joey Fatone: "Joey decided he was going to leave Apolo and Laila in the dust. He finally realized we're getting close to the end and now he's giving 100 percent. It's amazing he's done so well up until now. I feel like he's only been giving 85 percent."
Ian Ziering: "Ian finally came out of his shell," says Inaba. "Authenticity reads so well on this show. When Ian's not comfortable, it shows. Tonight he decided, ‘You know what? I have nothing to lose.' He had a few missteps. But we're going to see a lot of growth in him. And he saw how the people reacted, so I think it's going to be a little addictive for him."
Billy Ray Cyrus: "I love him for trying and for his courage and his passion," says Inaba. "He really is trying to get an 8. And you know what? If he sticks around, if he just gives us a little more content, he could get it. Because he really does have something magical about him."
John Ratzenberger: "I thought he did really, really well," says Inaba. "Ballroom dancing is for all ages and of all the older gentlemen we've had on this show, he's really the best one. George Hamilton and Jerry Springer wowed us with their charisma and theatrics, but John has actually got the frame and is doing it properly. In a real ballroom dance competition, he would do quite well."
One of the stage hands then came over and reached under the desk to retrieve Inaba's score paddles. "We're having a paddle extraction," she said, laughing, and called it a night.
ABC's Dancing with the Stars airs Monday at 8 pm/ET, and Tuesday at 9 (results show).
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