When the cameras stop rolling, the brave smiles disappear. Want to know how the dancers are really feeling about their performances on Dancing with the Stars? Watch closely for the first five minutes after the audience files out — when family and friends surround them on the dance floor — and you see things that would make a grown man cry.
There's Jennie Garth, so disappointed in the tail end of her lovely performance — especially after working so hard to get it right — being held by her husband, actor Peter Facinelli, who kisses her gently, over and over, on her forehead and on the tip of her nose. He speaks quietly in her ear as she nods, wiping away the tears. "I'm so disappointed that I didn't make that last move," she says later. "It was a great finale to the dance and we worked so hard on it. And it's embarrassing. Imagine falling on your butt in front of America."
There's Mark Cuban, the hardcore businessman, looking strangely vulnerable. "I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow night," says his partner, Kym Johnson, who is dreading the possibility of returning to the bottom two. They both know that no matter how hard he tries or how much money he's worth, it can't make someone who had a hip replacement just three months ago the best dancer. "It hurts like hell," he says. "You've got to have courage to do this because you're naked out there. It's like nothing else I've ever done in business. You can't put your game face on. Everything's stripped away. But I know all the good people I have around me, my family's around me, and that's what's keeping me going."
There's Melanie Brown, looking baffled and defiant after hearing judge Carrie Ann Inaba say that she made some mistakes when Mel B. knows — and her partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy says he knows for certain — that she didn't. "She said we messed up and we didn't!" says Brown. "And I'm very aware of when I mess up the steps because I usually mess it up in rehearsals." Chmerkovskiy is even more defiant: "Carrie Ann needs to focus," he says.
There's Marie Osmond's younger brother, Jimmy, beaming with pride as he watches Donny Osmond tell her she was great. "She's going through such a rough time right now," says Jimmy. "She's getting a divorce. So to see her out there dancing like that...? I'm just so proud of my sister."
There's Wayne Newton, taking the time to patiently answer questions when he should be collapsing from fatigue. Newton performed in three different cities last week — on top of learning a new routine. "If you complain about it, then that only hurts you," he says. "Nobody else cares."
There's Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani, fighting mad because head judge Len Goodman said he wanted more raunch. "There's plenty of raunch in me," says Seymour, "but it's not appropriate to the dance. A mambo is not a raunchy dance. But I guess they decided it is this week." Says Dovolani, "Apparently, that's what this competition is turning into: a lot of flash and trash and no quality. And I will not go there. I'm a ballroom dancer. And she's going to become a ballroom dancer. If she wanted to be a hip-hop dancer, she would go to So You Think You Can Dance."
Even one of the front-runners, Sabrina Bryan, feels like an underdog. The first week, despite a show-stopping performance, she was convinced she was going to be sent home. "At the time, I didn't know what the guys were going to bring and when I looked at the girls, everyone did such a great job. It wasn't like, yuck, that person's out. And the judges' scores are only half the battle. Who knew if our [Cheetah Girls] fans were going to come through — or go with someone else? There's some huge stars on this show. I mean, come on. We've got Wayne freakin' Newton!"
The strain, the fatigue, the worry, the wounded pride. Not even heavy stage makeup and dazzling costumes can cover all that.
Get more Dancing with the Stars moments with our Online Video Guide.
The Oct. 1 issue of TV Guide features an in-depth preview of Heroes, featuring Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter and the newest hero, Kristen Bell. Plus: Inside Jerry Seinfeld's return to television on 30 Rock. Try four risk-free issues now!
Send your comments on this Q&A to firstname.lastname@example.org.