Originally posted Monday, November 11, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Georgian native and country singer Lauren Alaina was almost eliminated on Monday night, landing in the bottom two, but former White House press secretary Sean Spicer was the one cut instead during the quarterfinals.
The show this season tweaked how celebrities were cut after a backlash last season over inferior but enthusiastic radio host Bobby Bones winning. For the first time, the judges selected each week which of two celebrities with the lowest combo of judge scores and viewer votes each week would go home. In the past, it was simply the person with the lowest score combining judges’ scores and public votes.
But until Monday night, Spicer had never been in the bottom two.
Spicer has been aggressively campaigning for votes on Fox News and other supportive outlets, propelling his fan base to keep him around. His former boss Donald Trump has even Tweeted his support for Spicer.
As a result, better dancers such as Kate Flannery, Karamo Brown and Sailor Brinkley-Cook went home before Spicer.
"I just want to say it's confusing for me at this point why these are the bottom two. I'm just a little confused and a little irritated," said judge Carrie Ann Inaba last week before they cut Flannery over Ally Brooke.
Spicer performed two dances Monday night for boy bands/girl groups theme. His first one, an Argentine tango to Destiny Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills,” garnered him two 6’s and two 7’s. Len Goodman was typically blunt: “I didn’t like it.” Other judges said he put in a lot of effort while guest judge Joey Fatone complimented his frame, though his legwork was more “stomping” than fluid.
In the video before his second dance, Spicer said he had lost 20 pounds since the beginning of the show but wasn’t ready to do anything shirtless after his dancer partner Jenna Johnson teased him.
For his foxtrot, all the judges - even guest judge Fatone - gave him so-so 6’s. Bruno Tonioli called Spicer’s dance “clumpy.” Inaba again complimented his effort. Goodman said it was super inconsistent. Fatone: “You are taking a beating sometimes. You keep going.”
Over the span of 11 dances, Spicer never got more than a 7 out of 10 from a judge. Alaina has received a 9 several times and the other four dancers - Ally Brooke, Hannah Brown, James Van Der Beek and Kel Mitchell - have all received at least one 10 from a judge.
Relatively poor dancers - typically older and male - have often excelled on the show over the years thanks to the voters. Past examples include Jerry Springer (fifth place, season 3), John Ratzenberger (sixth place, season 4), Bill Engvall (fourth place, season 17), Tommy Chong (fifth place, season 19), David Ross (second place, season 24) and most infamously, last year’s winner Bobby Bones.
Alaina, who finished second on “American Idol” in 2011, has danced in pain, having broken multiple ribs during the show. She received mostly plaudits Monday night. “If you like your rumba hot, place your orders now because Lauren delivered!” Tonioli said.
“Dancing With the Stars” this season has seen its worst ratings in its 28-season history, averaging less than 8 million voters (counting a week of DVR usage), down from about 20 million during its heyday. But that is still one of the bigger shows on TV nowadays.
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