After a stunning elimination from the “Dancing With the Stars” semifinals Tuesday night, Maria Menounos, who had undeniable chemistry on the dance floor with pro partner Derek Hough, said her longtime boyfriend didn’t mind the seductive kisses and romance rumors surrounding the duo this season.
“He’s amazing,” Menounos said today on “Good Morning America” about her boyfriend, producer Keven Undergaro. “He doesn’t get enough credit for everything that he’s done for me and my career and life. And to be so, so calm throughout this process when everyone is like, ‘Ooo, you and Derek, you’re kissing.’ He was amazing, and so I’m very lucky. He’s a good guy.”
Menounos, 33, locked lips with Hough not once but twice on the show, fueling rumors that they were more than just dance partners. The “Extra” co-host said the passionate kiss was her idea and her boyfriend had no problem with it.
“We were trying to figure out … [Derek] was like, ‘there is such a big buildup in the song, do you really want to [kiss], do you really want to [kiss]? I said, ‘We should rip off your shirt,’ and then I’m like, ‘Hmm, not enough.’ Oh, well, you kind of kissed me but you totally screwed up and you kissed my chin in the rumba and it was kind of embarrassing, maybe this will be your moment of redemption. Go for it.’”
In what has been the most competitive season yet, the actress was a tour de force on the dance floor, consistently wowing the judges with her graceful moves despite multiple injuries that threatened her ability to perform. Despite a stress fracture in her right foot and injuries to her chin and ribs, she bounced back to become the first star this season to earn a coveted perfect score of 30, a 10 from each of the three judges, for her mesmerizing vampire Paso Doble in week 7.
“This was a magical experience for me,” Menounos said on “GMA.” “To be able to learn how to dance and to be able to perform and be a part of this show was something I didn’t want to stop for anything. So I taped up my feet, I did all the therapies, I did everything I could and every time a doctor told me I couldn’t keep going, I would look at him and say, ‘I’m going to keep going.’”
Of the couples who performed in Monday night’s semifinal, Menounos and Hough had the highest judges’ score, but fell short on viewers’ votes and didn’t secure a spot in the show’s finale.
Many in the crowd booed the live announcement.
Hough, a veteran “DWTS” pro who has been lauded for his choreography, said working with Menounos this season was “amazing” and kept complimenting her drive and fun-loving attitude.
“I just loved dancing with her,” Hough said today. “She really is just an amazing person, just in life. She’s done an incredible job on the show. … In everything she does, she puts her heart and soul into it and accomplishes it. … She owns it. And I’m really proud of her.”
Tuesday night’s elimination came at the end of a packed results show, which included an encore performance by telenovela star William Levy and Cheryl Burke of their samba that earned them a perfect score Monday night.
Alanis Morissette and Carrie Underwood sang songs, and Julianne Hough and others from this summer’s movie “Rock of Ages” performed.
Levy and partner Burke, NFL star Donald Driver and partner Petra Murgatroyd, and Katherine Jenkins and pro Mark Ballas will compete next week in the fiercely competitive finale.
Hough said the coveted mirror ball trophy is up for grabs and that viewers will play a bigger role than ever in picking a winner.
“It’s really up to America, whatever they want. I feel like judges are going to score it pretty evenly, depending on what the dances are going to be,” he said. “Do you want the heartthrob, the athlete, or do you want the beauty, sort of graceful dancer?”
Watch the finale next week on “Dancing With the Stars” on ABC.
All three finalists including the new mirror ball champion will be live in Times Square for our “Dancing With the Stars: The After Party!” next Wednesday on “Good Morning America.”
ABC News’ Ed Lovett contributed to this report.