Former NFL player Keyshawn Johnson was the first celebrity eliminated in season 17 of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” Monday night, but the ex-wide receiver had no regrets about stepping outside his comfort zone.
“It really is harder than football,” Johnson said today on “Good Morning America” about his short stint on the dance floor. “All of a sudden you’re a grown man and you’re stepping out against these guys that are like 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, and you’re like 230-plus pounds and you’re trying to move like them and it’s totally different.”
Despite the challenges, Johnson gave it his all and logged long hours in rehearsals, he said today. “We probably averaged at least four hours a day in training,” he said. “I lost 20 pounds in three and a half weeks.”
Johnson’s pro partner, Shana Burgess, admitted she was a little apprehensive about his amateur dancing ability at first, but was pleased with the energy he brought to the stage.
“He worked so, so hard … he dedicated completely to it,” she said. “It was that personality. I had no idea if that man on the football field was going to come out on the dance floor. But then he comes out and does the cha-cha full of personality and I was like, ‘OK, he’s got it.’”
Comedian Bill Engvall and Johnson were both in the bottom two based on their performances last week plus their audience votes, putting them in jeopardy of being eliminated.
Johnson had the second-lowest judges’ score of the night last week for his cha-cha. But Bill Nye, who had the lowest judges’ score of that night, also for a cha-cha, was safe from elimination Monday.
Elimination is decided based on combined judges’ and viewers’ votes. The audience votes from last week and Monday were combined with the judges’ scores from Monday’s performance, and the star with the lowest overall total was sent home.
Before the eliminations were announced, the entire cast had to dance new routines, for which one couple will be eliminated next week.
The cast performed Latin dances tonight.
Elizabeth Berkley Lauren: The “Saved by the Bell” star’s sassy samba pleased the judges, especially head judge Len Goodman, who called it “absolutely fantastic.” Judges Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba were also impressed. Tonioli spotted a few flaws in Lauren’s passes, and Inaba told the actress she was in her element and in control of her body. They awarded her 25 out of a possible 30 points. Her two-week total was 49 points out of a possible 60.
Christina Milian: The “Dip It Low” singer earned a standing ovation for her dramatic, stylish paso doble. “You were on fire! That was insane!” Inaba said. Tonioli liked that it was recognizable as a paso doble, even though Milian put her own personal twist on it. Goodman agreed. “You still maintained the character of the dance … you were focused, you were fierce and I’m telling you, that was terrific!” Goodman said. Milian earned 25 points, for a two-week total of 47 points.
Bill Engvall: During rehearsals the comedian hinted that even though many of his fellow competitors were half his age, he would not be intimidated and his performance showed his confidence. Engvall exploded onto the stage with a fun, energetic jive that entertained the audience and the judges. Even though Inaba acknowledged that “the footwork was a little funky,” she called it “fantastic fun.” Goodman appreciated that there were many recognizable, basic jive steps in the routine, and said watching Engvall was “great fun.” Tonioli said Engvall “threw everything in it but the kitchen sink … I’m telling you, the performance value, it was incredible!” Engvall earned 21 points, for a two-week total of 39 points.
Jack Osbourne: The TV personality’s sweet rumba brought the audience to its feet in appreciation even before he’d completed the routine. Goodman commended Osbourne’s style and control, and Tonioli thought he’d made great progress during the two weeks of the season. Inaba said watching Osbourne transported her to another time, adding that he had “incredible nobility” on the dance floor. He earned 24 points, for a two-week total of 47 points.
Keyshawn Johnson: The former professional football player delivered an enthusiastic samba, but he fell out of sync with his partner during the routine. Tonioli noticed and urged him to count music, to which a smiling Johnson replied: “I’m trying! I don’t even bop my head in the frigging car.” Inaba called Johnson “still a little rough around the edges,” even though she said he looked more comfortable on the dance floor, and Goodman said he admired Johnson’s effort. “You were working your assets, I’m telling you,” Goodman said. “The key to this show – improve week by week. For me, that was better than last week.” Johnson earned 18 points, for a two-week total of 35 points.
Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi: Goodman said the reality TV star’s rumba was “neat” and “nice,” but said it suffered from a lack of continuous movement which is a requirement of the style of dance. Tonioli agreed, and urged Polizzi to also learn how to act and sustain a character throughout a performance. Inaba told Polizzi she “made some relay pretty pictures,” but didn’t have a lot of fluidity. She also deducted a point because Polizzi’s partner, Sasha Farber, performed prohibited lifts. Polizzi earned 20 points, for a two-week total of 43 points.
Bill Nye: The TV host earned cheers for his paso doble, and judges – who gave him the lowest score of the night last week – said they saw improvement. “What I love is that you worked with what you’ve got – your assets, you kind of made fun of yourself while you were dancing a little bit. It was like a weird sort of bizarre masterpiece of insanity and I thought it totally worked but we do have to work on your feet,” she said, speaking of his footwork. Although Nye’s routine lacked some technique, posture, movement quality and hold, Goodman said, he added that he liked the fun the star put into his routine. Nye earned 17 points, for a two-week total of 31 out of 60.
Corbin Bleu: The “High School Musical” actor was in his element with a high school-themed jive, and the audience loved it. Tonioli called it “a performance of dazzling brilliance,” and Goodman said it was clear that Bleu could dance, although he said the actor’s footwork was “a little sharp” at the end of the routine. Inaba was thrilled. “That was so much fun. Do it again!” she said, adding that she loved his athleticism and musicality. Bleu earned 26 points, for a two-week total of 50 points.
Valerie Harper: The legendary actress’ paso doble got her commendation for effort, but Tonioli pointed out that she had problems with her timing and some steps. Inaba acknowledged that she felt it was challenging to critique the actress because she was in such awe of her courage, but then Inaba said she believed Harper started the routine well but seemed to forget about a third of it and seemed “lost.” Harper, who has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, thanked all the judges for their critiques. She earned 19 points, giving her a two-week total of 40.
Leah Remini: As she practiced for her dance, Remini said it was important that she do well because she had left her church and she believed some people wanted her to fail. Remini recently announced that she’s left the Church of Scientology. Her sassy samba drew unanimous praise from the judges, especially from Inaba, who raved that Remini had let her “samba goddess” out. All three commended Remini’s performance, awarding her 24 points, for a two-week total of45.
Brant Daugherty: The actor’s rumba caused some dissent among the judges. Tonioli and Inaba remarked on the chemistry between Daugherty and his partner, Peta Murgratroyd, but Goodman felt that the audience was responding more to the pair’s looks that the routine. “The chemistry you guys have is incredible and very fun to watch, but that’s not what’s so great about you. You can move … you were wowing us,” Inaba told Daugherty. He earned 23 points for a two-week total of 45 points.
Amber Riley: The actress’s bubbly jive drew audience applause, but all three judges agreed that she was a little flat-footed. Even with the criticism, Inaba said Riley set the bar last week and continued to wow them with her performance. She earned 24points for a two-week total of 51 points.