Just one week shy of the Season 17 finals and her chance at the mirror ball trophy, actress Leah Remini was eliminated Monday night from “Dancing With the Stars.”
“I did my best. Tony really had his work cut out for him,” Remini said today on “Good Morning America” of her pro partner, Tony Dovolani. “They should give him a raise. He’s my best friend, my therapist. He’s just an amazing, amazing human being.”
Dancing wasn’t the only thing Remini learned from her time with Dovolani, however. She also discovered quite a bit about “Albanian food, music and a few new words, but I can’t say that,” she joked.
Dovolani shared Remini’s sweet sentiments about their time on the dance floor together.
“She made me laugh every single day,” he explained. “We got along great. Words can’t describe how much fun we had.”
There were boos from the audience when Remini’s name was announced for elimination Monday, but her daughter, Sofia Bella, 9, may have taken it harder than anyone.
“She basically just started crying,” said Remini. “She was so proud of me but she really wanted me to stay. And she was going to miss Tony.”
Her daughter even asked Dovolani, “Are you going to visit me? Does this mean you’re not going to come to the house anymore?,” Dovolani recalled.
Remini, who had steadily improved during the season, and comedian Bill Engvall, who has struggled, were both in jeopardy of going home Monday.
Engvall heads to next week’s two-night finals, along with Corbin Bleu, Amber Riley and Jack Osbourne.
The couples who survive Monday’s performances will dance Tuesday for the mirror ball trophy.
Elimination is based on combined votes from judges and viewers. Typically, audience votes from the prior week are combined with the judges’ scores from the live performance, and the star with the lowest overall total is sent home.
Actress Elizabeth Berkley Lauren was eliminated during last week’s show.
Monday’s episode was the 10 th in the ABC dance competition. Each celebrity had to perform two different styles of dance to the same piece of music.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy, a “Dancing” pro who did not compete this season, was a guest judge.
“It was different,” Chmerkovskiy said of dishing out the scores instead of dancing. “It was a little strange in the beginning because it was really happening. The hardest part is not to put up a score, but to explain it. I had to be true to myself and be fair and know why I’m giving the scores that I give.”
Leah Remini: The actress’s paso doble – performed to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” – captured the drama of the dance but was a bit too restrained for the four judges, who each gave her 8 points. “I thought it was a little bit careful,” said head judge Len Goodman. Bruno Tonioli agreed with Goodman, and pointed out that Remini missed two turns (she said she stepped on her dress during the routine). Inaba said she thought the drama was “too internalized,” and told Remini that judges were going to be more exacting at this stage of the competition. Chmerkovskiy said he liked the routine, but also asked Remini to be “a little more emotional.” Remini earned 32 out of a possible 40 points.
For her second routine, the actress performed a sleek Argentine tango that Tonioli, who gave a 9, called “very pretty.” He liked the intimacy, sensuality and good lines but saw one small mistake. The other judges each gave Remini 8s. While Goodman saw no glaring blunders, he added: “I never felt you quite embraced the dance fully.” Inaba told Remini to be more confident. “You stop your movements short and that is what makes them feel small,” she said. Chmerkovskiy said Remini needed to not dwell on any mistakes she may make but should focus on letting her personality emerge in the routine. Remini earned 33 points, for a grand total of 65 out of a possible 80.
Corbin Bleu: The actor’s breathtakingly fast tango drew praise from three judges but criticism from one. Goodman, who tends to be a traditionalist, thought the routine was a departure from classic tango. “Tango is about calmness and attack and then back [to] calm and then attack again. This was all on attack. … It was good as a performance, I love it, but as a tango it wasn’t really my cup of tea,” he said, giving a score of 8. The other judges each gave a 9. Inaba said the routine was “hot” and she wanted to see it again. “I’ve never seen a tango danced with that much fury,” she said. “That was like the fastest, most intense tango ever and you delivered it beautifully.” Tonioli said he liked the fire in the dance but felt the speed came with the loss of some control, and Chmerkovskiy said he loved the creativity. Bleu earned 35 points.
His second routine was simmering rumba that brought him unanimous praise from judges and a perfect score, too. Tonioli said Bleu’s quality of movement was unbelievable. “You really are a virtuoso performer,” he said. Goodman loved the routine’s contrast between restraint and passion. Inaba called Bleu’s body “a wonderland,” saying she appreciated how much effort he put into his movement when she could see the contraction of his muscles, and Maks said he thought Bleu had a huge advantage in the competition. Bleu earned 40 points, for a grand total of 75 points.
Jack Osbourne: Judges liked the TV personality’s commitment to his jazz routine, but they found flaws with his technique. “For me, this lacked a little bit of finesse,” Goodman said. Inaba said she thought Osbourne’s weight placement was more reminiscent of a ballroom routine than a jazz one. Tonioli agreed, but Chmerkovskiy said he loved it. Chmerkovskiy gave a 9, while the other judges gave 8s. Osbourne earned 33 points.
His second routine, a passionate tango, brought him high praise from judges. Inaba told him that his performance had passion and precision, and Tonioli said Osbourne’s improvement throughout the competition was unbelievable. They each gave him a 10. Goodman, who scored the routine a 9, said the dance had lots of drama and was well done despite a few minor slip-ups, and Chmerkovskiy, who also gave it a 9, thought it was great. Osbourne earned 38 points, for a grand total of 71 out of 80.
Bill Engvall: An injured Engvall danced a fast cha-cha to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” and while judges again faulted his technique they praised his ability to bring enjoyment to spectators. Chmerkovsiy told him not to worry about the holes in his performance and told him he was an inspiration to many people. Goodman agreed. “Bill, listen, maybe you’re not always the judges’ champion, but you are the people’s champion. Well done.” Inaba said she was smiling with pleasure over Engvall’s performance even as she was taking points off for his footwork and posture and timing. “Obviously you’re not Baryshnikov,” Tonioli said, adding that the pure enjoyment Engvall gave to spectators was unmatched. Each judge gave Engvall 7 points each, for 28 points overall.
Judges appreciated the comedian’s second routine, a sexy Argentine tango. Inaba said she liked that he didn’t play a comical character, that he played it straight and it went straight into her heart. Tonioli said Engvall set the mood and played it well, and Chmerkovskiy said the routine was everything and Argentine tango should be. Goodman said he wasn’t sure Engvall had the skill to win, but he believed the comedian has the will to do so. Engvall earned 32 points, for a grand total of 60 out of 80 points.
Amber Riley: The actress’s intricate jazz routine brought her a near-perfect score. Tonioli said the routine was rich and fierce and perfectly in sync. “Your versatility is astonishing. Astonishing,” he said. Inaba said Riley was in a class of her own. Goodman was uncharacteristically restrained but wholly impressed. Pointing at Riley, he simply said: “Do it again.” Chmerkovskiy – who gave a 9 while the other judges each gave a 10 – said legendary jazz dancer Bob Fosse would have been proud of Riley. Riley earned 39 points.
Judges again lavished praise on her for her second routine, a Viennese waltz. “You are so special, and it is the way you interpret the music as well as the movement,” Inaba said. Goodman called it “a terrific performance,” while Chmerkovskiy told Riley she should keep dancing the way she did. Added Tonioli: “All I can say is you dance like an angel. Loved it.” Each judge awarded Riley 10 points each for 40 points for the routine, and a grand total of 79 out of 80 points.