Tony Dovolani did his best to lead Leah Remini to "Dancing" success, no matter what others might have hoped to see.
Monday night proved to be an exciting night on "Dancing With the Stars," and it wasn't just because of the moves on the dance floor.
Oh, sure, the frontrunners still dazzled, and the needs-improvement gang ... well, most of them still needed improvement. But the real thrills came from rehearsal reveals — and of course the first ballroom boot of the season.
As for the latter, after getting one more chance to prove what Keyshawn Johnson could — or rather really, really couldn't — do on the dance floor, the retired NFL wide receiver had to accept that his "Dancing" days were over.
Last week's cha-cha failed to impress the judges, and this week's samba didn't help the man who said he'd "never even bopped his head in the car" before joining the competition.
But before the ballroom bid a sad so long to Keyshawn, there were dances to be performed and, of course, the aforementioned rehearsal chatter.
It was actress Leah Remini who delivered the most interesting tidbit of the night. Fresh from her highly publicized split from the Church of Scientology, the actress told pro partner Tony Dovolani that the religious organization is rooting against her.
"The church is looking for me to fail, so they say to their parishioners, 'See what happens when you leave the church?'" she confessed as they prepared for this week's samba.
Luckily for Leah, they didn't see her fail this week — at least not as far as the judges were concerned. Sure, her samba was lacking in big hip action and sultry shimmies, but she made up for it by capturing the character of the dance.
Bruno Tonioli called it "resplendent" just before he and his fellow judges gave the routine a matching set of 8s.
That was the same score the panel awarded another outspoken dancer on Monday night, Jack Osbourne.
During his rehearsal time, Jack bemoaned his genetic lottery results, telling pro Cheryl Burke, "I got the worst genes in my family! Check this out: (expletive) fat, heart problem, MS, can't (expletive) sing, can't act. Like, doomed."
Cheryl held back a laugh as she added, "But you can dance."
And it's true. Jack's rumba proved that while he's still rough around the edges, he's holding his own when it comes to movement and control. Mostly.
"You do some weird things with your hands on occasion," head judge Len Goodman nitpicked. "That's a bit bizarre."
But Carrie Ann Inaba found the former reality TV star to be "otherworldly."
There was one other rehearsal moment that overshadowed the action on the dance floor, and that came when Valerie Harper and Tristan MacManus worked on their paso doble.
A lingering knee injury was causing Valerie some trouble, but despite Tristan's warnings to take it easy, she soldiered on.
"I'm 74 years old with terminal cancer," she said. "Give me the horse thing that makes them run."
As he watched her continued efforts, Tristan wiped away a tear and said, "You're an amazing person, Valerie Harper. You know that?"
And while there's absolutely no arguing that point, the dance that followed wasn't so amazing.
The paso doble requires sharp lines, precision steps and perfect pacing, none of which appeared in the routine.
The judges applauded her — as did the audience — but the panel noted the problems.
"I feel that you forgot about a third of your routine in the middle," Carrie Anne said, knowing that Valerie wanted real criticism.
She also got a real score, earning only 19 points for the number.
As for the rest of the show, it was a mix of the usual good and bad. Corbin Blue topped the leaderboard with a very "High School Musical"-worthy dance that earned him 26 points. Elizabeth Berkley and Christina Milian tied for second place with 25 points. Last week's leader, Amber Riley, was hot on their heels with 24 points, and Brant Daugherty trailed just one point behind her. Staking claim to the back of the pack was Bill Engvall with a score of 21, and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, with 20.
And Bill Nye the Not-So-Great-At-Dancing Guy? He's going to need a lot of fan support to avoid getting the next ballroom boot after his 17-point performance this week.
First published September 23 2013, 8:22 PM