Anne Heche says she was kicked out of film premiere she brought Ellen DeGeneres to as a date in 1997, then got cut from a “multimillion-dollar” film deal and effectively blacklisted from the industry for a decade over it.
If your audience enthusiasm is canned, you’d think there would be no problem in getting that sound balanced just right.. But that was nothing compared to the production disaster that marred the reveal of the Bottom 2.
First, Tyra announced a Bottom 2 while there were still three couples on the floor, and even that turned out to be the wrong Bottom 2. She had to bring back a couple already declared safe to face the judges. Seriously, this was just about as disastrous a moment as you could expect in the closing minutes of a live show, reminiscent of “La La Land” -- though obviously not quite that terrible!
It was an awful way to end an otherwise powerfully emotional episode, as the contestants talked about people who’ve inspired them and been there for them throughout their lives. That’s why AJ had his Boys with him, while Skai Jackson talked about the impact her “Jessie” co-star, the late Cameron Boyce, had on her life, dedicating her dance to him.
Anne Heche opened up about the brave choice she made to take Ellen DeGeneres as her date to a film opening in 1997, saying it led to her getting kicked out of her own event, cut from a “multimillion-dollar” film deal and effectively blacklisted from the industry for a decade.
On top of that, the night saw our very first 10 delivered, as the competition got tighter than it’s perhaps ever been at this early stage of the competition. In fact, there was a four-way tie for the bottom of the leaderboard, with none of those four being particularly awful.
It bodes well for a season of great dancing, but certainly makes predictions harder.
Who do I think I am? you ask. Well, I spent nearly a decade of my life sweating and bleeding to the music as a dancer. From a young boy learning a shuffle-ball-change to performing with the St. Louis Ballet Company, I experienced the ups and downs of one of the most difficult physically demanding sports on the planet. During this time, I was also a member of the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, as well as a gymnast, writer and cartoonist. I had a lot more energy in my younger years. And I've spent the last eighteen years analyzing and critiquing reality competition shows for various media publications. I've got this.
(Paso doble) “What you see is all the guys standing still and the girls dancing around their guy. I want you to dance.” Daniella calling out everyone on the show (including herself), but she’s not wrong. We’ve been complaining about this for years now. And she proved as good as her wood, putting Nelly through it and making him move.
Now, he plodded his way through her choreography for the most part, but he did dance and he did make his way through it. He was there for her every time that he needed to be and there were some glimpses that he is starting to figure this out. There was no sharpness to his shapes, hitting hard, which is key in this style, so he didn’t have the commanding presence, but this was still a big step forward, and very fun choreo by his partner.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7
My Score: 6
Chrishell Stause & Gleb Savchenko
(Foxtrot) Chrishell was dealing with an extra layer of discomfort this week, revealing that she’s been taking hormone shots as part of the process for freezing her eggs toward having children someday down the road after her very public divorce. All of that emotion, though, translated beautifully into a stunning foxtrot routine.
Seriously, who was this dancer with this passion and can we order her for the rest of the season? We loved the grace with which they moved across the floor, with a nice rise-and-fall. Her left arm got a little droopy a couple of times, but her lines were exquisite. And most of all, the partnering between the two was just incredible this week.
Judges Scores: 7, 8, 7
My Score: 8
Monica Aldama & Valentin Chmerkovskiy
(Samba) Val is known as a tough partner, and Monica actually called him out on it, asking him to work on being more empathetic to people completely out of their element, telling him he needs to balance the “condescending” with a little more “uplifting.” It was a surprising moment that could shape Val’s coaching for years in a positive way.
It made a huge difference as you could see Monica feeling more confident as she sashayed her way through a rather fierce samba. She needs to tighten up her footwork and work on more crisp movements as Val definitely put her through it, but her partnering was strong and her performance through that lengthy trick in the middle was spot-on. She’s finding her groove on this floor.
(Paso doble) Anne opened up to Keo about falling in love with Ellen DeGeneres and taking her to a film premiere,, calling it the night that changed her life forever. It was a conscious decision that challenged social norms at the time, with Anne saying she was threatened with losing her Fox contract if she took Ellen as her date to her film premiere.
She did so anyway, but said security ushered her out before she could go to the after party, “for fear they would get pictures of me with a woman.” The fallout kept her from working in a big studio picture for a decade, three times longer than their relationship. But it was a move that made a huge difference for LGBTQ visibility, and ultimately acceptance. It only cost her her career.
Coming into this style, we had high hopes for Anne as she has shown an ability to perform in the very strong styles, and she needed a strong outing having fallen into the Bottom 2 with Carole Baskin last week. Alas, while she brought the ferocity -- and represented again with a fun daredevil rainbow ensemble, it never quite came together in strong dancing. She was too stiff and uncertain at the same time, never quite giving that commanding presence we were hoping for.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7
My Score: 6
Nev Schulman & Jenna Johnson
(Rumba) Nev shared his adorable meet-cute with his wife, Laura, which happened online (ironically enough) over a motorcycle picture. “Wanna ride,” he DM’d her, proving that sliding into DMs sometimes works. But you gotta be slick about it!
What a stunningly beautiful partnership, he dances with as much care and affection as he talks about his wife and family. We love that Laura is as surprised as all of us at his grace and beauty on stage, and he brought it again. The chemistry between Nev and Jenna was second-to-none on the night, and season. We know it’s early yet, but he might have it this year!
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8
My Score: 8
Justina Machado & Sasha Farber
(Salsa) The salsa is a style that connects Justina to her grandmother, who worked sugar cane in Peurto Rico before coming to the U.S. in the 1950s, and look how far the family has come now. Her grandmother’s strength fuels her, and this dance was in her honor.
We adore the joyous abandon with which Justina attacks each dance. She was on fire this week, with only that lift-spin looking a little labored to get in and out of. But she remains one of hte strongest dancers, nailing not only the choreo each week, but coming with that Latin fire and flavor that really brought this salsa to fiery life.
(Viennese waltz) Kaitlyn opened up about her relationship, with her boyfriend Jason even saying that he’d already told his mom he thinks they’ll get married. We’re not sure Kaitlyn is ready for that, but we kind of love that the moment she challenged him to ask her out on a date happened on her podcast, so they have that audio forever. It was a very sweet moment.
That sweetness came through in an elegant waltz that really took advantage of Kaitlyn’s lovely extensions and hands. We were starting to crave more moments in hold, but then Artem delivered those more toward the end, and it was just so lovely as they slid across the floor. The whole thing looked effortless from both parties, which is a testament to Kaitlyn’s strength.
Judges Scores: 9, 8, 8
My Score: 8
Johnny Weir & Britt Stewart
(Jive) A little more bounce from Johnny would have matched Britt better, and brought more of that high-energy needed to really sell the joyous, almost frenetic nature of a jive. His balance was a bit too far forward at times, which really impacted his ability to commit fully with higher knees and stronger kicks. We loved the choreography and costuming, but needed a little more controlled energy from Johnny. He’s moving in the right direction, though we weren’t as enamored as our fellow judges.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8
My Score: 7
Jeannie Mai & Brandon Armstrong
(Tango) Hilariously, Jeannie’s mom started a betting pool on whether or not she would win this show, currently sitting at $13,000 -- and she’s betting against her daughter. It only serves as motivation for Jeannie, because why not cost her mom that kind of money for not believing in her?
She had a little trouble with the final hold, which actually fit with some balance issues she had throughout the dance, and especially toward the end. But Ms. Mai came out fierce and strong, attacking this tango by giving great face and upper body. She just needs to get a little more precision (and balance) to her lower half. We loved this attitude, though!
(Rumba) Vernon paid tribute to his grandmother, who raised him and his six siblings from the time he was only one year old. “If she hadn’t been there, everything would have been different,” he said through tears. He knows how hard that must have been there for her, but she did it with no hesitation and with the love of true family.
We loved seeing this gentle side of him throughout the dance, though we wanted a little more hip action throughout the partnering, as well as a little more dancing into the floor to create more of that slide. His hands remain a little stiff, like an afterthought, but he is improving and once he gains a little more confidence in himself, he’ll only grow more.
Judges Scores: 8, 7, 7
My Score: 6
Jesse Metcalfe & Sharna Burgess
(Cha cha) This was a strangely robotic cha cha, as if all of Jesse’s joints were stiff and in need of oiling, especially in his tight hips which barely moved at all. On top of that, he had Ken doll hands, which just looked unnatural. We’d say “unnatural” described most of his movements here. He did manage to power through Sharna’s choreography, which was really sharp and could have allowed him to shine if he’d have been able to really perform and sell them, rather than just get through them.
Judges Scores: 7, 7, 7
My Score: 5
Skai Jackson & Alan Bersten
(Foxtrot) Skai dedicated this performance to her late “Jessie” co-star, Cameron Boyce, who tragically died in July 2019 at 20 years old from complications of epilepsy. The two were close friends, growing up together in the spotlight and developing a tight bond. She even has a picture of the two of them together on her phone case so his memory is always with her.
We noticed she looked a little awkward while hugging Alan after sharing her story, and that emotional disconnect was still there a bit in the dance. It really could have used some more emotional vulnerability from her as it was acted to the right tone, and she was more graceful and elegant across the floor than we’ve seen all season. We suspect her youth impacted her ability to really let loose, but she’s got the potential to soar if she can get out of her head a bit and allow herself to feel these moments fully.
(Cha cha) Taking advantage of a Covid world, AJ and the production team got creative in reuniting the boy band that’s been behind him for 27 years to virtually put them behind him for this cha cha. And their energy seemed to suffuse him with more confidence and strength.
There was still some issues with really getting into the grind of the cha cha, and his hands when not in extension are a little floppy, but we continue to see improvement in styles outside his element -- plus, we kind of dug the little dance breakdown with the boys toward the end. He just needs that same level of confidence in cha cha steps as he had in his own vibe.
Judges Scores: 8, 8, 8
My Score: 7
What an absolute disaster this reveal of the Bottom 2 couples was, with Tyra (or someone) absolutely botching this in the worst way possible. Not only did she announce the wrong Bottom 2 while there were still three couples standing there, she had to call back one of the couples she’d already announced as safe and put them in the Bottom 2. What a cluster!
With Charles Oakley and Carole Baskin out one/two in this competition, it quickly became a much tighter race. Casting did a phenomenal job this season of really finding people willing to put in the work, leaving us with a slate of dancers who are all pretty close.
In fact, outside of Skai’s incredible score this week, four points separate every other couple -- remove Kaitlyn’s 25 and it’s a three-point divide for everyone else. On top of that, there were four couples tied at the bottom, which isn’t really a bottom at all as a score of 21 in Week 4 is still pretty solid.
Nelly, Jesse, Jeannie and Anne all found themselves struggling in that bottom category, though we had Jesse alone at the bottom of our rankings. We also had Vernon down there with the other three, though apparently the judges saw him coming on a little stronger. We thought Jeannie just slipped a bit this week, but absolutely deserves to continue.
If we had to pick a Bottom 2 this week, we’d go with Nelly and Ann. But with all of the scores so tightly packed, it really is up to America this week as to who they just weren’t feeling. So far, they’ve been in line with the judges each week. Did that continue this time?
Jeannie and Jesse and Nelly all survived the week, which came as a bit of a surprise, and then all hell broke loose. With Vernon, Chrishell and Anne still standing there, she first announced Anne and Vernon in the Bottom 2.
That would have been just awkward, but it went from awkward to nightmare-ish, when even that proved wrong. Instead, it was Anne and Monica who were in the Bottom 2, so a whirlwind of joy for Vernon and heartbreak for Monica.
Of the two couples now in the Bottom 2, we’d have to give the edge to Monica, and that’s exactly what happened, so Monica could go back to celebrating.
So … that happened … it was so bad.
"Dancing With the Stars" continues on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.