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JULIANNE HOUGH, APOLO ANTON OHNO
Carol Kaelson  /  ABC
Apolo Anton Ohno became the front runner as he and partner Julianne Hough score three 10s on "Dancing With the Stars."
By
updated 4/17/2007 1:11:23 PM ET 2007-04-17T17:11:23
COMMENTARY

Last week Judge Len Goodman was frustrated over the stars’ collective lack of commitment and dedication on “Dancing With the Stars” (ABC, Mondays/Tuesdays).

He doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.

After giving out just one 10 all season, the judges dished out four of them during Monday night’s performance show, including three to Olympic speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and his partner Julianne Hough that gave the duo the first perfect 30 of the year and catapulted Ohno and Hough into serious competitor status.

On a night when the dancers were asked to give their most sensual rumbas or sexiest sambas, the fabric on their attire might have been lacking, but the compliments most certainly were not — for the most part.

Interestingly, a week after Len admonished the group for not practicing as much contestants from previous seasons, the focus was on some of stars’ other commitments that are keeping them off the dance floor throughout the week. Not surprisingly, it was basketball star Clyde Drexler and country-singer-turned-family-comedy-actor Billy Ray Cyrus who appeared to have the least amount of time to practice and received the judges’ worst scores with 13 and 17, respectively.

Time for a man to go home
It was a night on “Dancing” that finally separated the distinct levels of talent in the bunch. This should signal the beginning of the end for the show’s male dominance thus far. All four eliminated stars have been women, but that must end this week.

Ex-“Beverly Hills, 90210” star Ian Ziering started things off saying that he didn’t want be called “McStiffy” again — and can you really blame him? Ian’s criticism from the previous week was that he was too uptight and was thinking about his movements too much while performing.

During rehearsals, Ian pleaded with partner Cheryl Burke to change an upper-body shimmy because he felt like it was a little feminine. She made him keep it, and the ladies in the crowd — including judge Carrie Ann Inaba — went wild when he pulled it off. But Carrie Ann pulled out the “you think a lot … while you’re dancing” card on Ian, who was left to mope off the floor in his black, sleeveless, button-up shirt. The judges gave Ian and Cheryl 8s across the board for a total of 24.

Then it was Clyde’s turn to try to get away with as little movement on the dance floor as possible, but only after a clip about his midweek trip to China due to a prior basketball-related commitment.

His partner, Elena Grinenko, made the trip with him but it didn’t really seem to help. Clyde looked as if he had cement shoes while he watched Elena do her half of a rumba around him to the tune of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” It was fitting, because Clyde didn’t seem to have any idea.

Carrie Ann told Clyde he’s the worst dancer in the competition. To pour some salt on the wound, Carrie Ann pointed out Clyde’s illegal lift that would cost him a point and brought her score for him down to a 4. Len gave him a 5 and Bruno Tonioli gave another 4 for a total of 13, tying the worst score of the season. Elena said afterward that the move wasn’t supposed to be a lift, it was supposed to be a pose but Clyde’s height … eh, whatever.

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Mills takes a spill
All season, viewers have been waiting for the moment when Heather Mills’ artificial leg would fly off during a performance. But what would happen if she actually fell over while trying to stand on the fake limb?

Well, now that’s just awkward and uncomfortable for everyone.

Heather was a trooper, though, getting up quickly and laughing it off.

It didn’t hurt that there were chest-waxing jokes to be told. Rewind to the rehearsal footage of Heather and partner Jonathan Roberts for a “40-Year-Old Virgin”-inspired bit of chest waxing that provided countless seconds of amusement.

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings The opening move of the couple’s samba to Tavares’ “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel,” had Heather sneaking up from behind Jonathan and snapping his vest wide open to reveal his freshly landscaped pectorals. But when Heather went to put her right leg on Jonathan’s chest, she wobbled a little and ultimately tipped over. Carrie Ann — the heartless little... — took a point off for the fall, but Heather and Jonathan finished with a serviceable 21.

Joey Fatone is getting a little full of himself. After scoring the only 10 of the season last week, Joey got a little too silly this time even though he was trying to be more serious about his rumba to the classic “Besame Mucho.” And, no, Sanjaya Malakar wasn’t on hand to sing it as he did last week on “American Idol.” Joey was too much of a caricature, as Carrie Ann put it, and the judges bumped him and partner Kym Johnson down a notch with a 25.

John Ratzenberger came to play, which was a good thing because he was taking on the free-spirited Brazilian samba to “Love Is in the Air.”

John was a comeback kid in his own right, finishing the dance with partner Edyta Sliwinska lying on her back over a bongo drum and beating her tummy with the palms of his hands. Bruno called it “one of the best worst sambas I’ve seen,” and Carrie Ann gave him a standing ovation. John finished in the bottom two last week, but his performance could keep him around another week, despite his score of 18.

Athletes put up big scores
Laila Ali and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy took on the rumba under the watchful eye of Ali’s fiance, ex-NFL player Curtis Conway, who provided some fun moments watching the couple practice the romantic movements with a suspicious look on his face. Laila gave it her all and Maks seemed to put himself on the line, working the seductive moves to the tune of Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On,” and to the tune of a perfect 10 from Len. Bruno and Carrie Ann offered up 9s for a 28 total.

Apolo was next and absolutely dominated, saying that he had to get the samba right for his partner, Julianne, because it’s her favorite dance. Her close attention to detail paid off with the first perfect 30 of the year, moving Apolo and Julianne out of that “good but not a real threat” level.

Finally, Billy Ray came on to do a rumba that clearly made him uncomfortable. His partner, Karina Smirnoff, tried to get him to let loose and give in to the romance of the dance, but Billy Ray wasn’t having it. He said “it does seem like a dance you’d want to do in the dark,” and after one look at his sleeveless lavender shirt, a blackout in the studio was the best viewers could hope for.

Alas, the lights stayed on and we were forced to endure the visual wreck that was Billy Ray’s rumba. After what he called the busiest week of his life, now that he’s filming “Hannah Montana” again and working on a new album, Billy Ray had one of the worst dances of the night and the score, a 17, reflected it. His face did, too. Billy Ray was pouting the rest of the night and stared, stone-faced, at the camera as the final credits rolled and the rest of the gang playfully danced around him.

While Clyde deserves to get the boot, he’ll likely stick around another week, which leaves Billy Ray and John to battle it out over who goes home tomorrow night.

Victor Balta is a writer in Philadelphia.

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