She Likes Me!: Seven weeks into the competition, soap star Susan Lucci was called up to the judges podium by Carrie Ann Inaba and (awkwardly) instructed to address the crowd “I’m doing good!” Lucci may as well have added “and doggone it, Carrie Ann likes me.” After the show, Lucci said the standing ovation she received for her paso doble “was just spectacular.” It was a better feeling than the one Lucci had several days prior. Stricken with an intestinal virus, Lucci had to miss a rehearsal session. “I thought that I was holding up really well (with commuting from L.A. to NYC for All My Children). Friday after work at AMC I got this virus and I couldn’t leave home. I was quite dehydrated. But we tried to catch up and our paso doble was great. This was very nice.” “She’s a trooper,” Lucci’s partner Tony Dovolani says. Welcome Back: With Julianne Hough absent from Monday night’s competition while she recuperated from surgery for endometriosis, Edyta Sliwinska (eliminated in week one with partner Jeffrey Ross) stepped in to partner up with Cody Linley. So what has Edyta been doing with her time since leaving the show? “I’ve been catching up and basically enjoying my time off,” she said, noting that re-joining the show mid-season made her feel a little rusty. “It is so much easier when the momentum builds up. I’m so out of breath.” The adjustment was also felt by Linley, who’s become very close with Hough. “This was the hardest week of my life. I’ve never been under so much stress … physical stress, mental stress, time constraints, trying to learn two dances with a new partner, but Edyta was an angel,” says Linley, who visited with Hough over the weekend.
This Little Piggy: Lance Bass and Lacey Schwimmer’s barefoot rumba received mixed reviews, but the pair say they felt amazing going shoeless. “This has been a really good week,” Bass told PEOPLE after the show. “Every Monday you do the recap and you’re either depressed or you’re really happy and we’re really happy. This was the most comfortable day in my life, to dance in pajamas and barefoot. I wish I could do that every day.” Bass and Schwimmer donned shoes for the group cha cha, in which the judges commended them for being the best couple in the group and thereby ‘saving’ the number. The highlight of the group dance was the men (Linley, Bass and pro Tony Dovolani) ripping open their shirts, which made the audience cheer with excitement. Who knew Bass had a nifty set of abs? “This is called not eating for a week,” Bass joked. “All season long I haven’t been able to hit the gym at all, but this week I really hit it hard because I knew we were going to have to show our bare chests. But it all came back pretty quickly,” he said.
Simply the Best: Their hot-to-foxtrot earned the season’s first perfect score and Brooke Burke and Derek Hough couldn’t have been happier. “There was something special about tonight,” Burke gushed after the show. “I loved this dance. It was fun, I loved the routine. Everything fell into place this week.” “I could tell when I was teaching her this dance that everything just kind of happened naturally,” Hough said. “We all have our dances and tonight was definitely one of her dances … I say one because she’s got many of them.” Hough, whose sister is a two-time champ and whose roommate, Mark Ballas, won last year, admits he’s in hot pursuit of the disco ball trophy this season. “I want it! Why not spread the wealth? On one hand seeing Julianne and how she’s off and Cody, you know, working so hard, you know they want to win. But on the other hand, I’m like Julianne you can’t win a third time!”
The B(usy) List: A bevy of Bass fans filled a corner of the ballroom, including actress Danielle Fishel and comedian Kathy Griffin. After the show Griffin told PEOPLE three reasons why she would NOT partake in DWTS: “Number one, I can’t even touch my toes. Number two, I don’t get along with others so I’d probably fire my partner. And number three, I am busy telling d— jokes and I cannot spend my time dancing. I have a lot of celebrities to offend and I need to stay focused.” –Monica Rizzo
READ MORE: Brooke & Derek’s Perfect Night