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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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Even minus bona fide Stars, the ABC reality hit is livelier than a fox-trot

When the season 14 cast was announced for Dancing with the Stars, the show seemed to have shot itself in the foot, five or six times. The list was desperately low on actual stars. A Welsh mezzo-soprano named Katherine Jenkins? Extra host Maria Menounos? William Levy, Cuban-born star of the telenovela Triunfo del Amor? Well, not only has the show kept its light sparkle, but the nobodies have outlasted the (relatively) bigger names and given the ABC show a fresh, buoyant lift. ¡Un triunfo! Why? Because these dancers don’t arrive with the familiar, somewhat frayed baggage of older stars who seize on Dancing to promote a comeback. There was a painfully naked moment, for instance, when Jaleel White, at 35 still identified with Family Matters’ Urkel, sobbed about creating the role. “That’s my Mickey Mouse,” he said, comparing himself to Walt Disney. A celebrity overshare can be a scary thing. Meanwhile, slender, pretty Katherine Jenkins floats around the stage like a blossom. My money’s on her for the May 22 finale.


Bravo, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


Kathy Griffin, a talented if challenging comedian, has done herself no favors with this new weekly show. Apparently she’s expected to devote part of every hour to talking up Bravo’s reality slate-only without the celebrities who squeeze onto the tiny set of Andy Cohen’s Watch What Happens Live and do the same thing in campy high spirits. Griffin has to settle for a panel of associates, friends and neighbors who allow her to throw around barbed, often funny comments about Hollywood. As always, her dear old mother serves as Griffin’s fond, poky sidekick. Kathy isn’t a vehicle. It’s a parking space.