Elisabetta Canalis Elisabetta Canalis

She's escaped the model "curse" for now. But many in the ballroom witnessing Tuesday night's first DWTS results show of the season were surprised when Italian host, spokesmodel and actress Elisabetta Canalis escaped elimination.

It wasn't that her dancing was a disaster; the 33-year-old scored 15 out of 30 points Monday night for her cha-cha with pro Val Chmerkovskiy, a point higher than the star who was ultimately sent packing, the L.A. Lakers' Ron Artest, now officially known as Metta World Peace.

But nobody seems to have a clear idea of who Canalis is. She's famous in her native Italy, having spent 12 years on television. But in America, her biggest credit is from 2010 as a recurring character in five episodes of the TNT series Leverage. What really brought her into the spotlight — and gave her a profile high enough to be chosen to dance — was being the girlfriend of the world's most glamorous bachelor, George Clooney. But the two split in June after two years together. And that puts Canalis in a decidedly uncomfortable position.

On Monday night, the video package introducing Canalis to DWTS viewers included a photograph of her and Clooney. Did she mind? "I didn't really like it," says Canalis, visibly uncomfortable with the subject. "But it's okay." Then, she adds, "I didn't know it [was going to be part of my introduction]. That's what I really didn't like."

What does she want American viewers to know about her? "Just that I have fun in my performances on Dancing With the Stars. If this leads to other opportunities for me, I'll be happy."

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