"It's an outrage," says Dancing With The Stars pro Mark Ballas. "A complete outrage." Ballas isn't talking about getting another scolding Monday night from head judge Len Goodman for his outside-the-box choreography. Ballas is talking about another show entirely, and the ninth place finish for one of American Idol's presumed frontrunners, Pia Toscano, who was voted off in a stunning elimination last week.
On Monday, the internet was abuzz with rumors that Ballas and Toscano had started dating. And while he won't comment on his personal life, he has no hesitation in expressing his opinion as a friend — and fan.
"She was robbed," says Ballas. "She was my favorite. I was voting for her. My three favorites were Haley, Casey and Pia. And I thought Pia would end up taking it home. She's just got it, man. She's just got the pipes. She could get up there, deliver a song, and didn't have to do anything gimmicky. She could just stand there and sing. It's just amazing."
Ballas, 24, who is also a singer and songwriter, says he met Toscano, 22, at CBS Television City, the Hollywood studio that houses the adjacent stages for Dancing and Idol. "We all run into each other in the hallways," he says. "I ran into Casey [Abrams] a couple of times. I told him, 'Big fan. Love your bass playing.' I think he's a great bass player and really different. I love quirky different. So I voted for Casey. And I voted for Pia, and it's a shame. But I think she's gonna be fine."
Why is he so sure, when she only came in ninth? "I think it's gonna be the best thing for her," says Ballas, "because if she had gone out four or five weeks from now, it would've been, 'Oh, that sucks.' But the fact that she went out so early is an outrage."
Chelsea Kane, Ballas' celebrity partner on Dancing, nods her head in agreement. "That's the thing about American Idol," says Kane. "The underdogs always have these amazing careers. Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar."
So the story will have a happy ending, like those of Hudson, or Chris Daughtry? Ballas nods. "Look at Chris Daughtry now," he says. "If you've got a voice like that, it speaks for itself."