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Behind the Scenes at Dancing with the Stars


He’s the Man

Now that Emmitt Smith is the Dancing with the Stars champ, does the football star’s wife Pat have any apprehensions that he’ll have a big head? “Not at all,” she told us. “He’s going to be so easy to live with.”

A New Role

After getting the boot in Week Two, Shanna Moakler doesn’t stray far from the DWTS set. She just took on a new position – as a special correspondent for Extra! Since then, she’s been a staple in the press room, and before Wednesday’s show Moakler popped in to “say hello to my fellow journalists,” adding, “I miss you guys so much,” before heading to her seat in the audience with the other season three dancers.

Jerry Springer and partner Kym Johnson

The Jealous Type

Jerry Springer is territorial – at least on the dance floor. He has some issues with Season One’s Joey McIntyre swooping in for a waltz with his professional dance partner, Kym Johnson, on the DWTS tour. “Joey, shmoey,” Springer joked. “If I see him dance one slow dance with her…” But, as it turns out, Springer might not be too far away. “I think I will show up to some of the (tour) dates near Chicago (or) Ohio,” he told us. “It will be fun.”

Secret Union

In between all the dancing, some on Dancing with the Stars even find time for romance. On Wednesday’s finale,Harry Hamlin’s dance partner, Ashley Del Grosso, told us she and fiancé Michael Costa Jr., a producer, married on Oct. 21 in Los Angeles. “We gave our families a week’s notice,” the 24-year-old Del Grosso said. “We met on the show on Season One.”


Dead Heat

Tuesday’s Dancing with the Stars final competition was full-throttle excitement from start to its dead heat finish. For the second week in a row, the finalists – Mario Lopez and Emmitt Smith – received identical scores from the judges, leaving them deadlocked with 89 out of a possible 90 points. Their fate now, well, it remains in the hands of the millions of voting viewers.

Cheryl Burke and Emmitt Smith
All eyes will be on Smith and Lopez when the winner is revealed. But some – judges included – will have a tough time accepting just one winner. “I wish we could have two winners this year,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told PEOPLE. “I cried last week when Joey (Lawrence) left. Forget tomorrow. It’s going to be sad to see somebody not get that trophy after the way they worked tonight and the way they have the past 16 weeks.”

Voters’ Rights

They may not be old enough to elect the president, but two of Emmitt Smith’s daughters exercised their DWTS-given right to vote – for their dad. After the show, Smith’s two older daughters stood on the steps of the stage and voted on cell phones. Smith’s wife, Pat, said she was frustrated trying to get through on her cell phone. “We’re using all the phones, pulling out all the stops,” she said.

Veteran Cheerleaders

Season Two DWTS alums – Stacy Keibler, Drew Lachey, George Hamilton and Lisa Rinna – came out to witness – and vicariously relive – the competition. “I was so excited to get here tonight,” Keibler said of her first night back at the studio since last season’s finale. “Just seeing Emmitt and Mario, I started getting anxiety because it all started flooding back to when I was in their shoes. It’s really great to be on the other side and enjoy it.”

Karina Smirnoff and Mario Lopez

Sunny Disposition

If everyone looked a bit darker on tonight’s show, it’s because many got a fresh spray tan from the makeup department. “I got sprayed twice and it was way too dark,” Inaba told PEOPLE. “I had to actually put on some makeup to make my skin look lighter.”

Gun Slinger

Emmitt Smith has managed to stay pretty buttoned up all season. But Tuesday night he revealed everything he’s been keeping up his sleeves. “All season long I danced with costumes with sleeves and so I hid a whole lot,” Smith said. But Tuesday, Smith went sleeveless, exposing his NFL-toned biceps in his two costumes. “You save some of the best stuff for last,” he explained. “If you’re going to let loose, this is the time to do it.”

Last week’s Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn’t See

Karina Smirnoff and Mario Lopez
On Wednesday night’s Dancing with the Stars, the contestants were deadlocked in a three-way tie, but the fans spoke – and Joey Lawrence and partner Edyta Sliwinska were sent home. “I’m a glass is half-full kind of guy,” Lawrence told us after the vote. “Crying is good, but let’s shed the tears on something that’s really worth it.”

But this isn’t the end of Lawrence and Sliwinska’s partnership: The two will continue performing together for the Dancing with the Stars tour, which kicks off Dec. 19 in San Diego. “We’re like brother and sister,” Sliwinska told us. And Lawrence was equally glowing about the experience – and his dance partner. “This has been a complete honor, a true blast,” he said. “I got to learn something new and meet an amazing lady.”

Road Trip!

Season two’s Lisa Rinna, who is reteaming with dance partner Louis Van Amstel for the DWTS tour, told us she and husband (and DWTS alum) Harry Hamlin are taking their entire crew – two kids, a nanny and a tutor! – on the road with them. “It’s our chance to be like rock stars,” Rinna said.

Cheryl Burke and Emmitt Smith

Makeover to the Maks

Just what happened to Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s ponytail? Partner Willa Ford has the answer: “I took him to Frederic Fekkai and said, ‘Cut it off,'” she told us about Chmerkovskiy’s new clean-cut look, which he debuted during the evening’s James Bond number. “I brought him into the 21st century,” Ford said proudly.

Pressure Tactics

While some stars crack under pressure, Emmitt Smith knows the secret to staying calm. “I just try and enjoy the moment,” he told us. “You’ll never know if he’s nervous,” last year’s champ Cheryl Burke said. “He doesn’t show it at all.” But other dancers aren’t as cool under pressure. Mario Lopez shadowboxes to relieve stress, while his dance partner, Karina Smirnoff revealed, “I bite my cuticles.”

And next week’s finale is sure is to be a nailbiter!


A Naval Salute

Joey Lawrence’s sailor-themed outfit and routine had special significance for him: it was a nod to his grandfather, Harry Shaw, and his father-in-law. “Both served in the Navy. They served in World War II and Vietnam, respectively,” he told us. “I thought it would be cool to start the dance with a salute. It’s for them.”

And Lawrence’s mom Donna wore her father’s actual sailor suit from WWII to the show as a salute to her son. It was tailored to fit Mama Lawrence, who says she also made granddaughter Charli a sailor outfit “but she fell asleep and I didn’t get to put it on her. She’ll wear it tomorrow night.”

Commanding Performance

It’s not every night that Dancing with the Stars is graced with an international dignitary – but Tuesday, the first president of Zambia Dr. Kenneth Kaunda dropped by. “I once danced with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in my country,” Dr. Kaunda told us. But last night he was happy to sit back and enjoy. “All of these young people are simply gifted,” he said. “They all must continue dancing!”

His Code Name Revealed

When Emmitt Smith’s wife Pat wants to get her husband’s attention, she calls him by his childhood nickname, ‘Scoey.’ “I don’t know exactly where it comes,” she confessed, but added, “he’s been called that by his family for years. If we’re in a crowd and I need to get his attention, I call him that and he knows it’s me.” And now, so does the rest of the world!

High School Reunion

It was a high school reunion – of sorts – when former Saved By the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley visited the DWTS set to cheer on former “classmate” (and onscreen love interest) Mario Lopez. “I’ve been watching Mario from my New York apartment all season,” she told us. And as it turns out, she’s still got a soft spot for him. “Nothing surprises me with him doing unbelievable things in life,” Berkley said. “He has this really special gift.”

A Perfect Ten

There are few things that can beat a perfect score. DWTS semifinalists Joey Lawrence, Emmitt Smith and Mario Lopez found that out when they and their partners received a ’10’ from each judge for one of the two dances they performed on the show. That leaves the guys in a three-way tie. “We think the judges must have been drinking something with all of these perfect scores tonight,” Lopez’s partner Karina Smirnoff told us. And she’s right. Judges Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman were juiced up. “We drank some Red Bull because of the jet lag,” said Tonioli. “We are a little bamboozled from all of the flying back and forth from London for the past six weeks (where they judge the British version of DWTS, Strictly Come Dancing.)

But there was no mistake in the scores they gave. “There is hardly a hair between them and it really is now up to America to choose their favorite,” Tonioli said. “They’re all great and they all deserve to be in the final. We’re going to be very upset to see somebody go home tomorrow night, but they won’t go as losers.”

Last week’s Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn’t See

Leaving On a High Note

True, Monique Coleman has received some negative attention after quibbling with judges over her scores. But she left Dancing With the Stars proud of her performance. “I feel like I’m walking out on a high note,” she told us. “I hope when people look back on the show they see someone who was humble, determined, confident and spirited,” said Coleman, who’s now turning her attention to the High School Musical tour. Of the remaining dancers, she only had kind words: “I think that everyone that is left in this competition is deserving of it.”

Carrie Ann’s Inside Take

With only three teams left, just who will win? DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba offers PEOPLE her inside dish on the remaining celebrity dancers. “He is just mesmerizing,” she told us of Emmitt Smith. “Who knew he had such sex appeal?” Meanwhile, Inaba has great expectations for Joey Lawrence, explaining, “(He) made his transformation at such an amazing pace.” As for Mario Lopez, Inaba cautions the habitual first-place dancer against getting too comfortable with winning. “Mario has to step it up because he’s at a disadvantage,” she told us. “He’s been number one week after week after week, so he’s got to do something amazing to impress everyone.”

Eye Opener

How did Lawrence and Lopez like wearing eyeliner on the Halloween night performance show? “We decided to go for it,” Lawrence told us. “When are you going to have another opportunity to go for it?” But taking it off was another story. “It was not fun,” he revealed. “I used soap and it ended up being all over my eyes. I looked like raccoon.” Luckily, wife Chandie came to the rescue. “I asked my wife, ‘What do you use?’ And she gave me this Mary Kay (product).” Talk about saving face!


Wigging Out

Though she’s already gone blonde, Karina Smirnoff likes to keep the audience – and dance partner Mario Lopez– on their toes, at least when it comes to her hair. Last night Smirnoff sported a red wig, which prompted Lopez to gush, “She looks HOT! She looks great as a redhead right now, but the blonde looked good, too.” The partners continued to fuel romance reports by trading flirtatious banter backstage. Smirnoff quipped, “My real (hair color) is like third on the list.” But Lopez swears he was misunderstood. “No! No! There is no particular order,” he told us. “Somehow I manage to put my foot in my mouth, or she does it for me unintentionally.”

Home for Halloween

With his hectic dancing schedule, Joey Lawrence tells us he had no plans to trick or treat. “I’m going to go home tonight and have a little bit of candy since I do love that,” he said. But what would Halloween be without a little frightfest? After putting 5-month-old daughter Charli to bed, Lawrence plans to “watch a scary movie” with his wife, Chandie, he told us, “I have a few favorite scary movies, but I love the first Scream.


Former contestant Shanna Moakler is back on the DWTS set, but this time she has a new role – as a reporter for Extra! Moakler showed her enthusiasm when she found out Lopez would also be working for the TV news show in the future. Moakler cheered at another announcement, too: “That’s my band,” she told us, squealing, when she heard that Il Divo would be performing on Wednesday’s show.

Enjoying the Payoff

With behind-the-scenes talk of her recent frustrations, Monique Coleman kept things positive – especially when it came to hearing her scores – Tuesday night. “The payoff keeps you going,” she told us. “You go out there, inspire people, get great scores and get re-energized. I would ever trade any of those experiences for sleep.” Another payoff for Coleman? The support of her mother, whom she says comforts her just by showing up. “She’s here right now and sitting right in front so I can just look over at her,” she said. “If we’re here next week she’ll be there so I can see her if I am freaking out inside.”

Last week’s Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn’t See

A Sad Farewell

Sure, Jerry Springer has been insisting that he should get voted off Dancing with the Stars, but when it finally happened it was a melancholy moment. “I can’t help it,” Springer told us while wiping tears from his eyes. “This is the nicest group. I’m a grown-up now and grown-ups don’t usually get to play games. This was like you get to go to camp as a grown-up.” As for tearing up during the telecast, Springer says, “I saw that I was losing it and I grabbed for the microphone. That’s my security blanket. I figured if I could just hold onto that mic I’d be okay!”

And though the talk-show host won’t be on the 38-city DWTS tour kicking off Dec. 19 in San Diego (“They couldn’t meet my price,” he joked), partner Kym Johnson will take her fancy footwork on the road and will return for the Nov. 15 season finale.

All in the Family

Dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy (who got the boot with partner Willa Ford two weeks ago) brought his younger brother Valentin into the DWTS fold when he performed an exhibition number to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” with students from Rising Stars Dance Academy in Saddle Brook, N.J., where both siblings teach. Valentin told us that he was asked to join the cast but had to decline. “I’m very involved with my competitive dance career at the moment so it’s a bit unfair for me to leave my partner for a few months for the show,” he said. “But I would love to do it some day.” Watch out – it’ll be Chmerkovskiy squared!

What Would Jerry Do?

Emmitt Smith wants to pay homage to castmate Jerry Springer by keeping the atmosphere light behind the scenes. “I’m going to have to take up the slack,” the football star told us. “I try to show up every week with a smile on my face and encourage everyone to do the same. I don’t want a tight, stuffy atmosphere here.” But, Smith admits, things just won’t be the same without the jovial Springer. “It’s been a blessing to be around the man and have the chance to get to know him on a personal basis. I look at him truly as a man confident in his own ability, yet knowing his limitations but willing to try. That’s who Jerry is.”


Where Was Mama Lopez?

Mario Lopez’s biggest supporter was missing Tuesday night, but don’t worry, mom Elvia had a good excuse: She was home baby-sitting his sister Marisa’s kids, Makai, 2, and 2-month-old Kalia. “It was weird not seeing my mom here. She’s our good-luck charm,” Lopez told us. Partner Karina Smirnoff agreed: “I said to her yesterday, ‘That’s not good. Something might go wrong.’ And the music was a lot slower tonight and it threw us a little.” But Smirnoff spiced things up by wearing a blonde wig – and anything’s possible for the score leaders in Wednesday’s performance. “I might go red and then who knows? Mario wanted me to go bald like Sinead O’Connor.”

Joey’s Baby Love

Keen viewers saw a little something extra on Joey Lawrence’s right bicep – a silkscreen tattoo of a heart with a banner through the middle that reads “Charli.” The actor plans to make the tribute to his 5-month-old daughter permanent. “I’m going to get one for real,” he told us. “I’ve designed this and I’m going to get this eventually. I love it. They say it’s bad luck to put your wife’s name on your arm but it’s good luck to put one on with your children.”

Going to the Chapel?

Edyta Sliwinska, Joey Lawrence’s partner, tells us that she and her dancer fiancé Alec Mazo (who was Kelly Monaco’s partner in season one have had to put their wedding on hold until “next summer, hopefully. It’s just been too busy with everything on the show.” And Sliwinska’s hectic pace won’t be ending anytime soon: She’ll be touring with the Dancing with the Stars cast later this year.

Watch Out for Emmitt

When Emmitt Smith debuted this season he was compared to his predecessor, football great and season two finalist Jerry Rice. Now it’s Smith’s shoes that will need to be filled. “Any athlete that comes after me has a lot to live up to because I had a great partner teaching me. Jerry did, too. He made it to the finals and it’s our quest to make it to the finals as well and hopefully we will win it. That will make the difference.”

Father-Daughter Dance

Jerry Springer has lamented for weeks that the other partners on Dancing with the Stars exhibit far more talent. But the talk-show host is glad he lasted long enough to learn the fox trot. “I’m going to do two dances at (my daughter) Katie’s (December) wedding and I think the fox trot will be my other dance.” The first, of course, being the waltz, which he did several weeks ago in the competition. He also may have found what he’s going to wear for it. “I loved the tuxedo,” Springer said of his fox-trot attire. “I’m going to see if I can buy it from ABC. It’s a nice suit. I want to wear it to the wedding. Plus, when I die they can lay me out in it.”

Last week’s Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn’t See

Mario Lopez and Karina Smirnoff

Who’s The Boss?

Though their chemistry on the dance floor is undeniable, Mario Lopez and Karina Smirnoff still have some power-struggle issues to sort out as they prepare their fox trot and jive for next week. While the two politely quibbled about which dance to practice first (“Honey, let’s finish one and then we’ll hit the next one,” Lopez cooed), Smirnoff let us know who’s really in charge. “Carrie Ann (Inaba) compares him to a professional dancer and suddenly he wants to control dances, choreograph, pick out the outfits,” she tells us. “No! He forgets who is the teacher and who the celebrity is.” Snap, snap.

Jerry Springer and Kym Johnson
Father’s Day
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba had a special visitor in the audience on Wednesday’s results show. Her dad, Rodney, flew in from Honolulu. “This is the very first time he’s gotten to see the show,” Inaba said. So, what was his highlight? “I really enjoyed Lionel Richie,” he told us. “He still looks great and he sounded wonderful.”

Tough Break

Jerry Springer had attempted to launch his paso doble on Tuesday with furor – playing a guitar he was then supposed to smash against the stairs to simulate an angry matador. Only problem: the guitar just didn’t break. “First of all, how weak am I? I couldn’t smash it,” he told us. And the foibles kept coming. “Then I couldn’t grab my cape right. So like an idiot, I’m fumbling with my cape and I forgot to move my feet. Once I forgot to move my feet I didn’t know where I was in the dance and I never caught up.” And Springer wasn’t the least bit surprised that he and partner Kym Johnson landed in the bottom two. “It’s not fair now. I’m taking the place of better dancers. Really.”


Joey Lawrence and Edyta Sliwinski

Wardrobe Malfunction!

Edyta Sliwinska was a bit out of step when her shoe caught on the hem of a white sash, which was placed strategically over her bikini. “We only got the dress two hours before we performed so we didn’t know (it would be too long). Hey, what are you gonna do?” partner Joey Lawrence told us.

Tony D: Back in the House

Along with Sara Evans’s interview explaining why she quit the show, her partner Tony Dovolani made a surprise appearance backstage, to the other dancers’ delight. “Tony D! You should have seen it in here, dawg. It was so stuffy in here,” Emmitt Smith told Dovolani. “Man, when he’s here we clown around like I don’t know what.'”

Dovolani promises viewers will be seeing more of him. “I will be back to dance … I have the World Rhythm Championships in November (he’s the reigning champ),” he said. And as Evans announced in her interview, he’ll be choreographing her next tour, lending her more support. “The beauty of this experience for me is to get to know somebody who’s a star, yet so humble.”

Shanna: Looking Out for Sara

Former DWTS contestant Shanna Moakler (who’s covering the show for Extra!) reached out to Sara Evans the minute she heard the news of her divorce. “We have a lot of similarities – going through a divorce publicly, we both have three children,” she said. “This show has been such a positive thing in our lives and I know how she feels when she says that she wanted to make it through but couldn’t because you really do have to place your family first.”

Burke and Smith

X-Rated Fan

Porn star Ron Jeremy was there to cheer on the DWTS cast. Why the visit? “I know Jerry (Springer). I’ve been on his show four times. I’ve always gotten a kick out of the show,” he told us.

Keeping His Guard Up

Emmitt Smith wore knee pads under his chocolate-brown-and-pink pinstripe pants because his jive routine required sliding around the floor on his knees. “I broke these knee pads in. The cushion is just about out of them,” he told us. Between practice and Tuesday’s performance, “I did about thirty slides,” Smith says, proudly noting that he’s never had a knee injury – even with all those years of professional football. “I can’t mess them up now! I get tired of hearing people say break a leg when you go dance! I don’t want to hear that.”

Last week’s Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn’t See

Edyta Sliwinska and Joey Lawrence

Shaken and Stirred

Pop singer Willa Ford had her final hurrah on Wednesday’s show but she has no regrets. “The fact that I stayed on for this long is great,” she told us after the show. “I’m going to dive wholeheartedly into film. I just kind of want to go out and see what’s there. Then I always have music, I can make a living at that, pay the bills.” But partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy wasn’t nearly as upbeat. “There are a lot of things in my dancing world that I put to the side for this,” he said. His immediate plans? “I will definitely be going to get drunk.” But Ford wasn’t going to be his drinking buddy. “We have to be at Good Morning America at 3:45 in the morning – I prefer not to do it drunk,” she said.

They Do Think He’s Sexy

Rod Stewart, who performed “Hot Legs” and “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” on Dancing with the Stars, definitely had his own fan club among the dancers. Edyta Sliwinska told Kym Johnson that the 61-year-old singer gave her “the chills” and that “dancing near him was just dreamy. It was amazing.”


Yay, Daddy!

Joey Lawrence‘s 5-month-old daughter Charli is one stylish little cheerleader. Backstage, the tiny fashionista sported a black-and-white dress that matched her dad and his dance partner Edyta’s samba outfit. On the front read the message “Samba-D Vote for My Daddy.” Lawrence’s mom, Donna, designed the mini-frock and has been sewing dresses for her granddaughter to wear to the Dancing set.

Gang’s All Here

High School Musical star Zac Efron and Ashley Tisdale were in the house to support pal Monique Coleman. And Efron – who’s in L.A. shooting the film version of Hairspray with John Travolta – could barely contain his jitters for his friend. “Man, I don’t know how Monique does this every week,” he said. “I would be so nervous.”

Birthday Boy

Mario Lopez spent his 33rd birthday by samba-ing his way to plenty of praise from the judges. “I’m glad I got a good score on my birthday – that’s just the way I wanted to celebrate,” he told us. Next stop after the show: heading to L.A.’s Koreatown to sing karaoke.

Mr. Modesty

After doing the samba with partner Kym Johnson, Jerry Springer – who was still dressed in his ruffled satin shirt cut down to his belly button – was greeted by a line of young girls who wanted their picture taken with him. He was so self-conscious about his exposed chest that he grabbed at the ruffles and held the shirt closed while he took photos with them.

Emmitt Smith and Cheryl Burke

Prayer Circle

Emmitt Smith has his pre-performance ritual down. “I have my music playing, I’m on the computer playing video games,” the football star told us. But he always makes time for bonding with partner Cheryl Burke. “Before we come out on the floor for the show we normally sit down and say a prayer together.” Hey, maybe the duo that prays together stays together…

Last week’s Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn’t See

Nick and Drew Lachey

Supporting Act

Last season’s Dancing with the Stars champ Drew Lachey was in the studio with wife, Lea, and 6-month-old daughter Isabella to support brother Nick, who performed. Having the Lachey sibs in the house “is like a big old reunion! It’s so nice catching up with them,” judge Carrie Ann Inaba told us. “Drew is in the green room and we’re all going to have a drink with him.”

Collar Him!

Dancer Louis Van Amstel had a bit of a panic when a two-inch smear of makeup stained his white shirt’s collar. He discovered the stain just minutes before airtime and tried to rub it out, which only made it worse. Fortunately, it didn’t show on the air.

Mum’s the Word

Former DWTS contestant-turned Extra! correspondent Shanna Moakler tried to keep a low profile backstage after the dustup between her and Paris Hilton. But Inaba couldn’t resist teasing her. “So, what’s this I hear? You had a barroom brawl last night?” Moakler’s response: “Uh, I plead the Fifth.”

Jerry Springer and Kym Johnson

Family Affair

Ashly DelGrosso told us her exhibition dance number with her five – yes, FIVE – sisters (Amber, Averie, Afton, Autumn and Abrea) “was probably one of the greatest moments I had on the show.” And right there to watch them in the front row was former partner Harry Hamlin and wife Lisa Rinna. Even though they were ousted from the show, Del Grosso and Hamlin haven’t totally ended their partnership. “I am going to keep giving him lessons and he wants to learn the paso doble, so we’re going to keep going.”

Hip to Be Square

We just had to give a shout-out for the best quote of the night. When Jerry Springer found out that next week he’ll be dancing the rumbo or the samba, he said, “At my age you replace hips, you don’t shake them.”

Fan Favorite

Emmitt Smith‘s wife Pat says her football-star husband has found a whole new legion of fans since joining Dancing with the Stars. “I used to get practically knocked over by men trying to get to him. Now it’s cute to see women and men come up to him. Now the men say, ‘Oh, my wife loves you’ or ‘My wife is voting for you.’ And the women are going crazy over him. And I get to go home with him, so it’s cool.”


Karina Smirnoff and Mario Lopez

Love Scene

The Dancing with the Stars studio was buzzing with Eva Longoria‘s visit to cheer on pal Mario Lopez. But behind the scenes, there was plenty of heat between Lopez and his partner Karina Smirnoff. The two held hands, cooed at each other and chatted about their after-show plans to meet up.

File Under: Awwww

Jerry Springer had the whole audience in tears with his waltz, which he learned so he could dance with his daughter Katie at her upcoming wedding. “This was perfect. I’ll never do anything better in show business than this,” the talk-show host told us. “This is as happy a moment as I’ve had on a stage. Tonight I danced for an audience of one. It was great.” And the proud dad even got a hug from his daughter after his emotional performance.

Where There’s a Willa

Willa Ford also had a special guest in the audience: Her grandmother, Margaret Sweat, was there to root for her. “We lost my grandfather this summer. His funeral was the day I found out I got the show,” she told us. “I just wanted to make her proud. My grandmother is so excited, so I said this waltz is for her. Maybe I need to have her come every week.”

Nick Kosovich and Vivica A. Fox

Negative Reinforcement

But not everyone was happy about the night: Sara Evans was fuming about her scores. “Yeah. I did not expect a six. I was appalled with a six tonight (from judge Carrie Ann Inaba). “I was very angry.” Added her partner Tony Dovolani: “I think we’d like the judges to find a little more positive encouragement.”

Prince Joey

While Vivica A. Fox and partner Nick Kosovich looked ready to say olé in their stagewear for their paso doble, Joey Lawrence and partner Edyta Sliwinska went for a fairytale look with their costumes. “It’s a Prince Charming and Cinderella look tonight,” he told us. “We wanted it to be really sweet,” added Sliwinska. And Lawrence is loving working on DWTS. “It’s better than sitting in an office for nine or 10 hours a day.”

Last week’s Dancing with the Stars: What You Didn’t See

Harry Hamlin and Ashly DelGrosso

Parting Shot

We caught up with Harry Hamlin and Ashly DelGrosso on Wednesday as they headed to their car after being ousted from Dancing with the Stars. “I couldn’t believe it,” DelGrosso told us. “It’s a bit of a shock,” Hamlin agreed, adding that the toughest part of losing is telling his kids – and staying in such great shape. “I don’t know how I’m going to keep up this body.” But DelGrosso has wedding bells on her mind. “I’m getting married, so I’ll be focusing on a two-step of a different kind.”

Vivica A. Fox and Nick Kosovich

Mating Game

Shanna Moakler, who’s now reporting on her former show for Extra, had her sights set on Italian opera singer Vittaro, who performed on Wednesday’s show. “He’s cute. I’m single, you know,” she told his publicist backstage. The rep’s response? “So is he – he’ll be on the press line.”

Plan of Attack

After getting raves about their performance, Vivica A. Fox and Nick Kosovich were flying high. And so were Monique Coleman and Louis Van Amstel, whose jive got a thumb’s up from Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman – and gave them a 27-point lead. So, how do they think they’ll transition from the high-energy dance to the slower, more sophisticated waltz next week? “You have to start over and attack it with a different energy,” Coleman said. “We can’t go out there with a bang,” agreed Van Amstel.


Mario Lopez and Karina Smirnoff

Down, but Not Out

Despite reports that Mario Lopez’s partner Karina Smirnoff had injured her neck and upper back so badly during rehearsal that she had to be taken away by medics, the dancer told us that was never the case. “We did a twist and my rib bone came out. That’s what my doctor said,” she said. “It pinched a nerve and the spasms began and I couldn’t move one way or the other. But they said they can fix it in three or four days.” (An iced back and some biofreeze got her through the dance.) She did admit that landing on her back onto Lopez’s thigh during the big finish of their routine was tough. “I just kept smiling, but it hurt,” she said.

Joey’s Sweet Tooth?

Fitness fanatic Joey Lawrence hit the craft service table and stocked up on M&M’s, cookies and assorted sugary snacks. What’s up with that? “This isn’t for me,” he said. He took them to the green room, where his mom, wife Chandie and 4-month-old daughter were holed up to watch the show. In fact, Lawrence is so serious about his Dancing stint that he’s been doing some late-night practicing at home. “At 1 o’clock in the morning when I couldn’t even walk, I was in my bare feet in my kitchen doing steps, trying to remember what I had to do,” he said.

Dancing with the Stars: The Next Generation

Lawrence’s baby girl wasn’t the only Dancing kid backstage. The green room should’ve been renamed Romper Room as the children of Sara Evans, Tony Dovolani and Harry Hamlin all hung out and played.

Romance Alert!

It seems there’s more off-the-dance-floor chemistry brewing between the Stars partners. A source tells us that sparks are flying between Willa Ford and Maksim Chmerkovskiy. “We have a great relationship,” said Chmerkovskiy. Ironically, the judges told the pair to do more bonding on the dance floor. “We rehearse more than any couple here and just because we go to dinner afterward, we shouldn’t be penalized,” said the singer, whose pals sported pink T-shirts that read “Willa to the Maks.”

Willa Ford and Maksim Chmerkovskiy

Tattoo You

Dancer Nick Kosovich’s wife Lena recreated a beaded version of partner Vivica A. Fox’s flaming cross tattoo (which she blinged out with crystals) on the shoulder of his jacket to match her body art for their tango routine. “I have tattoos. I’m a rebel by nature,” said Fox (she’s got 13 of them). “We’ve been covering them because we didn’t want America saying, ‘What’s that on her back?’ or freak out about it. So ,we did a slow reveal.” One thing Kosovich and Fox won’t be sharing: the Aussie dancer’s taste for Vegemite, a vitamin-laden spread. “I like to eat that and bananas,” Kosovich said. “She won’t try it.”

Previously on Dancing with the Stars