Behind the scenes of ''Dancing With the Stars'' -- EW shadows Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson for a week

By Shirley Halperin
Updated May 11, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
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  • ABC

I feel like s — .” So says Joey Fatone just minutes after barely surviving elimination in Tuesday night’s Dancing With the Stars shocker. The former ‘N Sync boy bander and his partner Kym Johnson (both 30) have been favored to win the fourth season of ABC’s reality hit, but that hype doesn’t prevent the pair from landing in the bottom two along with Billy Ray Cyrus and Karina Smirnoff. (The country crooner is eventually booted.) The elimination scare is the pulse-pounding culmination of a long week involving everything from sweating on the Sunset Strip to partying with ponies in Kentucky. EW gets the whole scoop on Joey and Kym’s wild, hungover, butt-bruising, wardrobe-malfunctioning, Kevin Federline-kibitzing, private-jet-flying ride — one that almost ends with our subject waving ”Bye Bye Bye.”

Tuesday, May 1
One more week, two more dances
Joey looks relieved backstage after Tuesday’s results show. Even though he and Kym scored their first perfect 30 (for the jive) some 24 hours ago, he still feared the always-unpredictable viewers’ vote. (Remember Master P?) After saying goodbye to the eliminated John Ratzenberger, Joey makes his way through the plush red-velvet holding room to a far less sexy, fluorescent-lit wardrobe office upstairs. (Along the way, he bro-hugs American Idol contestant Chris Richardson, who just performed 70 steps away — yes, we counted — on the Idol stage next door.) Joey and Kym are handed music for their dances next week (Black Eyed Peas’ ”Pump It” for the mambo, Frank Sinatra’s ”Always” for the waltz) and get to work on their outfits. Even choosing colors is a competition, with a policy of first come, first dibs — which is why Joey is furiously flipping through fabric swatches. ”We look to infuse costume elements in the ballroom world with modern ideas and an edge,” explains Kym. ”Then I say, ‘I want JF on my ass,”’ adds Joey, referring to the rhinestone letters he had attached to his backside on previous dances. He’s only kidding…we think. Joey is definitely a risk taker when it comes to wardrobe, and he’s even contemplating showing off his personal grooming habits by going sleeveless. ”I’m manscaped,” he says proudly. ”I do it all the time. John Ratzenberger waxes, but I don’t. I’ll just do a little trimming.” This time, we don’t think he’s kidding.

Wednesday, May 2
Mambo or bust
Kym’s bum is killing her from a slide on last night’s show. ”We burned our asses on that stupid Meat Loaf routine,” she complains while adjusting the remote microphone strapped to her lower back. It’s noon and hot as hell in the nondescript dance rehearsal room on Sunset Boulevard. ”I hate the mambo,” Kym whines, while her partner tinkers with the stereo, queuing up something from his past: ‘N Sync’s ”Tearin’ Up My Heart.” Joey’s set on using the song should the couple make the final two. ”It’s tough, you don’t know if you’re stepping over the line,” Joey confesses about dancing to…himself. ”But fans have been asking about it and we’re here to entertain. That’s what we’re all about.”

”F — -, my muscles hurt!” yelps Kym as she tries a split, but her frustration soon turns to Joey: ”Two, three, four, one…slide…get up…step…face the back…walk back…hold…face the front…don’t do the Matrix arms…STOP!” Joey’s timing is off. ”I’m having trouble with the counting,” he says, sitting down for the first of several phone breaks. He welcomes the breather, but doesn’t gab for long. ”Daddy has to go back to rehearsal now,” Joey coos to his 6-year-old daughter, Brianna, back in Florida. ”You don’t want him to get kicked off the show.”

Thursday, May 3
Waltzing to Kentucky
Joey and Kym have just five hours to nail down the waltz. The routine is slow and sweepingly dramatic, with no allowance for tricks — it’s a challenge on all fronts for Joey. ”Be serious,” Kym reminds him repeatedly. The mood isn’t helped when Joey takes to reminiscing about his pre – ‘N Sync days working Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue at Universal Orlando. ”It was actually pretty tough to get someone locally to sing, dance funky, and act like a monster,” he boasts. ”I was all three — the Wolfman!” (Pre-manscaping, it seems.) After rehearsal, the pair heads home to pack before boarding a red-eye to Kentucky for a weekend at the Derby. Naturally, the cameras follow.

Friday, May 4
No rest for the weary…
After a six-hour flight to Louisville (Joey flew first-class, Kym was stuck in coach), the pair goes straight into rehearsal at a local dance studio. Unfortunately, the space has two massive pillars in the middle of the floor, making the long, flowing sweeps of the waltz all the more difficult. ”We’ll just have to move around it,” says Kym. Joey is itching to hit both the track and the town: Among the many parties on the agenda is the Barnstable Brown charity event to benefit diabetes. Celebs like Jimmy Fallon and Kid Rock attend the function, while Joey — perhaps fueled by Captain Morgan and Cokes — and Nick Lachey form their own ex-boy-band supergroup, dueting on ”Celebration” and ”Superstition.” Afterward, there’s a Stuff magazine soiree to hit, and maybe the Playboy party, too. Looming over it all is a 9 a.m. rehearsal call time.

May 5
Place your bets!
It’s Derby day, and a very hungover Joey feels ”like crap.” That 9 a.m. call time has come and gone. ”I can’t remember what time we rolled in [last night], but we never rehearsed.” Of course, there’s no way he’s going to miss the action at Churchill Downs, where Joey places several bets (he wins $100 on a $20 ticket, but loses $1,500 overall) and meets his adoring fans. ”Good luck!” yells a voice from the stands. ”We’re voting for you, Fat One!” But Joey and Kym are not the only Dancing couple getting bathed in attention: Apolo Anton Ohno and Julianne Hough are also at the Derby. Any ill will is squashed when Apolo offers the pair a private jet ride back to L.A. Joey can’t believe his good luck. ”We were going to have to be up at 5 a.m. to catch a commercial flight!” Sounds like it’s time for a celebratory drink.

Sunday, May 6
Sizing up the competition
”Look at all that material that has to go in!” Joey gloats as safety pins are fastened to tighten up his mambo shirt. In the last three weeks, Joey hasn’t kept track of how much weight he’s lost, but he’s noticed it in his pants size. ”I went from a 36 — 38 to a 34,” he says, checking himself out in the mirror. ”I’m in to be thin!” It’s 4 p.m. and this final fitting will lead to the day’s main event: camera-blocking, where contestants run through their routines multiple times so shooting angles can be configured.

It’s the first time they’ll see their competitors in action. ”Everyone’s watching everyone else,” Joey reveals, eyeing Apolo a few feet away. Maybe he should focus on himself: Since they skipped rehearsal on Saturday, Joey and Kym have some catching up to do. Their first mambo run-through is shaky, and their waltz needs more work. You know what they say, Kym reminds her partner, ”Bad dress rehearsal, brilliant performance.”

Monday, May 7
Just another manic Monday
There’s a wardrobe malfunction of massive proportions. Kym’s mambo dress — a short, frilly gold number with a twirling ripple effect — has a protruding bulge in an unfortunate spot, leading Joey to cries of ”hermaphrodite!” The frock will go into emergency surgery soon, but first, a final, full-dress rehearsal. Joey fumbles the opening hat toss on the mambo, but what’s really concerning him is the waltz. ”It’s so slow that it gives me time to think and second-guess myself,” he worries. ”Plus, you have to make sure your posture’s good and all that crap.”

No doubt Joey wants to impress the judges (Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli), but he’s expecting some friends in the crowd, too — fellow ‘N Syncer Chris Kirkpatrick and a once-anonymous ‘N Sync backup dancer by the name of Kevin Federline. ”I hung out with K-Fed at the Derby,” says Joey. ”He said he wanted to check out the show.”

It proves a good night to be in the studio audience. Most couples bring their A game, and the judges — perhaps inspired by the presence of Laila Ali’s father, Muhammad — are in a fighting mood (with each other). Bruno and Carrie Ann complain that Joey and Kym’s waltz is missing razzle-dazzle, while Len argues it showed a different side to Mr. ”Wham, bam, thank you ma’am.” The dance scores a total of 26, while the mambo nets a near-perfect 29.

After the show, Joey feels a touch of residual bitterness toward Bruno. ”They tell you, ‘Hey, we want this,’ you give it to them, and they’re like, ‘You should go back to what you did before.’ It’s like, ‘What do you want me to do, be myself or be a puppet?”’ At least Kirkpatrick is impressed. ”I was proud of him,” says the former bandmate. ”He turned his corniness into something really cool.” And what, pray tell, does Federline think? ”He didn’t show,” says Joey. ”K-Fed stood me up!” (Ouch.)

Tuesday, May 8
Living to dance another day…barely
It’s two hours until the results show, but Joey doesn’t seem too upset that Apolo and Julianne have been selected to perform tonight’s ”encore dance.” Nor does he seem particularly concerned with tonight’s elimination. ”Let them get their good scores now,” he says of his rivals, while relaxing in his trailer. ”We’ll wait till the finals to get ours.” Or will they? During the show, Joey looks dazed when host Tom Bergeron informs him that he and Kym are in the bottom two. ”All you can do is stand there,” he says of being covered in the ominous red light of jeopardy. Luckily, it is Billy Ray and Karina who are sent packing. After the show, Joey shakes his head as well-wishers from the audience express their shock. But he snaps out of it quick enough. After all, there are already new routines and outfits to pick. ”Right now, I’m thinking about the work, because we’re still in it,” says Joey. ”It’s not over till the fat dude sings.”

By the Numbers

The amount of makeup products ‘Dancing’ stars go through each season.

jars of glitter

cosmetic rhinestones

bottles of various tanning sprays (plus five gallons of California Spray Tan)

bottles of hair gel

pairs of Ardell lashes

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Dancing With the Stars

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