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Needless to say, this was a pretty intense premiere. The whole incident with the protesters was incredibly scary and unnerving. I was backstage when it began and I had watched Ryan's performance. I actually looked over to our casting director when he was done and said, "That was great. That made me really happy." I'm all for redemption and people getting second chances. Then I noticed Carrie Ann stumbling over her words and I heard a few screams. I ran out to the floor and saw our security guys tackle these two guys. It was all kind of surreal at that point and everyone was frightened and confused, but it was clear these guys were anti-Ryan Lochte. I looked over to stage left and saw these women standing in a row with the same No Lochte shirts the two guys had on, and they were just heckling Ryan. Our security was still taking care of the two main guys, so I went over there and told the women to leave. I don't like bullies. That really upsets me and it triggers something in me. We don't do that here. This is a good place, a positive place. That really made me angry. If I see something happening, I have to do something.
Everyone was very shaken up about it, especially, obviously Ryan and Cheryl. I talked to Ryan after and basically said, "Forget them. They're idiots. You did a great job." Regardless of what you think of Ryan and his Olympics scandal, there was absolutely no reason for anyone to do have done this to him or anyone else. People have already been punished. What else do you want? I don't really know Ryan that well. I've been around him a little bit here and there. He seems like a nice guy. He made a mistake. He messed up. A white lie got ahead of him. My thing is people are so quick to judge. They suddenly forget all the good things people do. You do one bad thing and suddenly it's like nothing else you ever did matters.
I really admire Ryan putting himself out there like that on the show. That's not easy. The easy thing to do would be to go into hiding, but he's owning up to his mistakes publicly. He can't undo what he did in Rio. The damage, so to speak, is already done. All he can do now is admit to his wrongdoing, which he has, and move forward and show that he's learned his lesson. We've all made mistakes. We've all told lies. Unfortunately, his was amplified because of his profile and the Olympics. I'll be honest — I had my opinion about it and I was like, "That was stupid and dumb." But when you see someone do good and make up for it, I'm not gonna sit here and dwell on it. People are reacting like he killed someone. I think we think Olympians are superhuman and incapable of making mistakes. They're athletes, but they're still human like you and me. Let him learn from his mistakes. I believe some people find significance in doing good and others find significance in tearing people down, and I am definitely not for the latter. We should all be striving to do good things and to be good to one another.
I have to give a huge shout-out to our security. We've known those guys forever and they were just awesome. They were quick and on top of it. We were all like, "Yeah! Go get 'em!" Julianne told me afterward that she wished I waited for security to escort the women out because they could've had something on them. I was like, "I wasn't worried about that. I would've just ducked. I've got my rhinestone jacket on!" All jokes aside, it was a very scary incident. It was a really weird thing that's never happened in 23 seasons. With everything that's been going on right now with shootings, it puts you on edge when stuff like that happens. We're all very grateful that everyone is safe and we're all moving on and looking ahead.
One of the worst parts of the altercation was that it overshadowed everyone's performances and the premiere itself. There were some fantastic dances that got lost in this mayhem. Was I not right about James? He was fantastic! I think he's even more of a natural dancer than Helio and I'm really intrigued to see what he does this season.
Marilu did a great job. It's not easy going first for your first dance. She was also four feet off the mark, but we somehow pulled it out! She started way in front of where she was supposed to be in order for me to jump over her. I was trying to scream her name, but she couldn't hear me because there was an audience around us. I saw her go down and I was like, "Oh, crap," and I just had to go for it. Luckily it all worked out. We weren't surprised by any of the judges' comments. They talked about things we've been working on since Day 1 - her shoulders and her arms getting stiff. I think she did really well for her first dance being a jive. It was a fast routine. There's still, of course, a lot of work to be done. I'm trying to get her out of her head and focused on her body. She's trying to remember all these things and it's almost too much to do all those things individually. I want her to embody the dances.
This week, we have the foxtrot and it's going well so far. We're dancing to the theme from Taxi. One hand, it's awesome because it's an iconic song and obviously the show was a huge part of Marilu's life. But musically, it's not the best thing to dance to for a foxtrot. I've struggled a little bit this week getting inspired because of that. I've been working with our band and everyone to see how we could tweak the song so it'd be more fitting for a foxtrot. So we'll see how it goes!
Thanks for reading!