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Image: Nancy Grace, Tristan MacManus
Nancy Grace turns to pro partner Tristan MacManus after a wardrobe malfunction.
TODAY contributor
updated 9/27/2011 12:01:00 AM ET 2011-09-27T04:01:00

It’s the second week of competition on “Dancing With the Stars,” and what a difference a week makes. Too bad for some ballroom beginners that difference isn’t always for the better, but more (much more) on that later.

Of course, good or bad, it isn’t always a star’s dance-floor moves that make for a memorable night.

Take Nancy Grace — yes, the same Nancy Grace who delivered a dull and sluggish cha-cha-cha last time around. She really stepped up her ballroom game Monday night with a confident and understated quickstep, but that might not be what fans buzz about around the water cooler Tuesday morning.

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Instead, a wardrobe malfunction — the sort that even the slight delay of so-called live TV couldn’t completely conceal — might overshadow talk of her success.

Story: Nancy Grace denies 'Dancing' exposure

Just after her dance, but before she earned some rare praise from grumpy head judge Len Goodman, Grace suffered a dreaded nip slip. Fast thinking folks behind the scenes cut to a few odd and obviously canned shots of a motion-free audience, but for one brief moment, well, it was out there.

Watch most shocking moments from the show

Tom Bergeron, aka the best live host in the biz, handled the problem as he’s done in the past — swiftly and with a blink-and-you’d-miss-it flare for redirection. Thankfully for Grace, the judges’ remarks soon distracted from any residual embarrassment she felt. And oh, what remarks those were.

Bruno Tonioli called her routine “vivacious and lively” before adding an ill-timed “top heavy” criticism. Goodman thought the dance, which earned Grace a score of 21, was a “proper quickstep,” and stated he didn’t care about the lack of razzmatazz.

Yeah, who needs razzmatazz in a glitzy, ballroom bash?! Oh, yeah, everybody — a point Goodman seemed to recall when one of last week’s frontrunners, Chynna Phillips, took the stage.

Story: You be the judge! Rate the 'Dancing' contestants

Following a tasteful, if a bit restrained jive from Phillips that also earned a 21, Goodman grumbled that the dance was “neat and precise,” but didn’t exactly excite him.

One ballroom babe who excited the other judges was the night’s leaderboard topper, Ricki Lake. With three-time champ Derek Hough by her side, Lake offered up a high-impact performance that Carrie Ann Inaba considered “the best jive of the night.”

Still, it wasn’t enough to spare Lake and Hough from Goodman’s bad mood. The negative nitpicker wasn’t happy with the routine and called Hough out for choreographing more of a retro swing than a jive.

“We’re judging the jive here, my sausage,” he said, strangely enough.

Despite the gruff judge’s remarks, Lake easily looks to be one of the early contenders for a finale-night spot, and if anyone is looking for a good bet as to who one of her co-finalists might be, look no farther than war hero and actor J.R. Martinez.

Story: 'Dancing's' Ricki Lake 'bruised,' but 'not complaining'

Martinez, who trailed just one point behind Lake with 22, put on a fun kicking, jumping jive that had the audience up and out of their seats.

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What did Goodman think of that?

“The problem is what’s on the label wasn’t in the tin,” he complained. “I was looking for a jive and you gave me a Lindy Hop. It wasn’t a jive.”

It seemed Goodman used up all of his good nature on Grace and barely had any left for the rest of the bunch.

Not that many others needed high praise for the dances they delivered, aside from maybe Kristin Cavallari, whose quickstep was as impressive as it was forgettable — an odd combo, but there you go.

Both Rob Kardashian and Elisabetta Canalis saw major improvements over last week, both taking 21 for the night. But given just how bad they were last week, that’s still not saying much.

'Dancing' injuries won't keep Bono down

Then again, that 21 represented a win of sorts for Canalis’ partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, as he beat his pro bro, Maksim, for the first time on the show. The elder Chmerkovskiy and soccer champ Hope Solo scraped by with a 19 for their routine.

As for the reigning fun star, Carson Kressley, his follow-up quickstep didn’t quite pack the entertaining punch his earlier cha-cha-cha did. With 18 points, he tied with actor David Arquette and just escaped the last-place position.

That 17-point problem was Chaz Bono’s. After a strong start with the cha-cha last week, Bono’s body failed him. Aching knees and bad ankles left the moves required for a quality quickstep out of reach. So his oh-so-slow quickstep just didn’t rake in much praise or points from anyone on the panel.

Given that there was no shortage of dance-floor duds on Monday night’s performance show, there’s also no shortage of ballroom baggage that could be cut when Tuesday night rolls around. Last week’s back of the pack picks — Kardashian and Canalis — improved, but when it comes to fan bases (and let’s face it, in these early rounds fan bases really matter), they won’t see much progress.

Will Kardashian or Canalis get the cut this time, or are Kressley, Arquette and Bono in danger? We’ll soon see.

Who do you think is in danger on Tuesday? Tell us on the Facebook page for our TV blog, The Clicker!

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Video: Cavallari channels Monroe for 'Dancing'

Photos: 'Dancing With the Stars' season 13 cast

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  1. The stars of season 13

    The new cast of "Dancing With the Stars" was revealed on Monday, Aug. 29. In the back row, from left: Ron Artest, David Arquette, J.R. Martinez, Rob Kardashian and Chaz Bono. In the front row, from left: Ricki Lake, Kristin Cavallari, Chynna Phillips, Nancy Grace, Hope Solo and Elisabetta Canalis. Carson Kressley is not pictured.

    All 12 couples will dance for the first time on ABC on Monday, Sept. 19. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Get the party started

    "Dancing" hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke greet the new hopefuls on Monday, Aug. 29. (Adam Taylor / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. David Arquette

    Actor David Arquette -- brother to actors Patricia Arquette, Rosanna Arquette, Alexis Arquette and Richmond Arquette -- is best known for his work in the film series "Scream." He is also married to actress Courteney Cox, but the two are currently separated.

    He's paired with pro Kym Johnson, who has won the mirror ball trophy twice in the U.S. version of the show. She was also the pro champ in season 2 of Australia's version. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Ron Artest

    Ron Artest is a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, and is known for being eccentric off the court. (He has filed papers to legally change his name to Metta World Peace.) On the basketball court, he is perhaps best known for the November 2004 Pacers-Pistons fight. Artest, a Pacer at the time, rushed into the stands to confront a fan who threw a drink at him, which led to the biggest player-fan fight to date.

    He is paired with new pro Peta Murgatroyd. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Chaz Bono

    GLBT activist Chaz Bono is the only child of Sonny Bono and Cher. His documentary, "Becoming Chaz," followed his gender transition, and was nominated for three Emmys.

    He's paired with pro Lacey Schwimmer. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Elisabetta Canalis

    Elisabetta Canalis is an Italian actress who has appeared in the film "Deuce Bigalow" and the TV show "Leverage," but she is best known for dating George Clooney for two years.

    She's paired with new pro Val Chmerkovskiy, who is brother to fellow pro Maksim. Val has also previously performed on "DWTS." (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Kristin Cavallari

    Kristin Cavallari found fame with MTV reality programs "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills." She has also appeared on "The Middle" and "CSI: New York." Cavallari was engaged to Chicago Bears player Jay Cutler, but he ended their engagement in July.

    She's paired with pro Mark Ballas, who has won the mirror ball trophy twice. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Nancy Grace

    Former prosecutor Nancy Grace currently hosts "Nancy Grace" on HLN. She is also the author of mystery thrillers "The Eleventh Victim" and its sequel, "Death on the D-List." Grace is married and has twins.

    She is paired with new pro Tristan MacManus. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Rob Kardashian

    Rob Kardashian is best known as the brother of Kim, Kourteny and Khloe Kardashian. He appears on several of the family's series of E! shows, including "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" and "Khloe and Lamar." He is the second Kardashian to participate in the show. Kim competed in season seven.

    He's paired with pro Cheryl Burke, who has won the mirror ball trophy twice. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Carson Kressley

    Carson Kressley is best known as the fashion guru on the Bravo series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." He is also a New York Times best-selling author, and currently hosts "Carson-Nation" on OWN.

    He's paired with pro Anna Trebunskaya. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Ricki Lake

    Ricki Lake played Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 film "Hairspray." She has since had a long-running daytime talk show ("Ricki Lake," 1992-2004) and hosted a season of VH1's "Charm School." Lake has also made numerous TV appearances.

    She's paired with pro Derek Hough, who is a three-time mirror ball champ. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. J.R. Martinez

    J.R. Martinez plays combat vet Brot Monroe on "All My Children." Prior to acting on the soap opera, Martinez was in the Army. He was deployed to Iraq in March 2003, but less than a month after that, his vehicle hit a landmine. Martinez was trapped, and suffered severe burns. In addition to acting, Martinez is a motivational speaker.

    He's paired with pro Karina Smirnoff. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Chynna Phillips

    Chynna Phillips, the daughter of The Mamas and The Papas' Michelle and John Phillips, is perhaps best known as a member of the '90s pop trio Wilson Phillips, whose debut album sold eight million copies. She has also appeared in several films, including "Caddyshack II" and "Say Anything." She is married to actor Billy Baldwin.

    She's paired with pro Tony Dovolani. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Hope Solo

    Hope Solo is the goalkeeper for the United States women's national soccer team. She was part of the team that went to the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup finals, but the U.S. ultimately lost to Japan on a penalty shoot-out after a 2-2 tie.

    She's paired with pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy. (Craig Sjodin / ABC) Back to slideshow navigation
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