On ''Dancing With the Stars,'' the judges pile on Jerry Rice, who could get a sympathy vote from the viewers; meanwhile, Stacy the Natural can do no wrong

By Annie Barrett
Updated June 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Dancing with the Stars: Adam Larkey

”Dancing With the Stars”: The judges blitz Jerry

The judges, producers, and whoever else is behind Dancing With the Stars really, really want Jerry Rice out of there. The things the judges said to persuade us not to vote for him ranged from polite comments like Len Goodman’s ”not good enough,” Bruno Tonioli’s ”I really respect the effort,” and Carrie Ann Inaba’s ”nice attempt” to Len’s later flat-out declaration: ”You’re the worst, and I’m sorry about that.” Yes, Len, you’re positively spilling over the brim with sympathy. Way to sugarcoat it.

What’s more, when I went to ABC’s website to spell-check the judges’ names, there was a photo of Stacy Keibler and partner Tony Dovolani in the overpowering ”Vote Now” graphic. Now, I personally don’t vote because I’m the poster girl for the term ”unbiased reporter,” and also because I don’t really think my vote will matter. (Hey, Democrats! People like me are the reason you keep losing.) But this blatant favoritism made me mad. Would it have killed them to showcase the entire group there? Very subtle, ABC — almost as subtle as Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke’s impromptu field trip. Hey, everyone at home: Go to Disneyland! ABC would really love it if you all went to Disneyland. So go to Disneyland.

Despite the judges’ efforts to get rid of Jerry, I’m not so sure the plan will work. His partner, Anna Trebunskaya, said of their accompaniment during their first dance tonight, ”It wasn’t a proper tango; it was Blondie for God’s sake,” and her criticism seemed to really resonate with the crowd, although they could have just been scared of her, like me. And one of Len’s criticisms of their tango was that ”Jerry Rice was Jerry Springer” (i.e., the former football player bounced too much when he danced). Ooh, good one, Len, except that the people voting for Jerry are now probably even more likely to support him because of your bullying, and because ”Jerry Springer” is finally a reference they understand.

Honestly, though, to leave Jerry in the game instead of Lisa Rinna, Drew, or Stacy’s legs would be criminal. Boy Wonder and the Natural definitely had their moments tonight, but Lisa impressed me the most — the judges were right to call her the most improved dancer of the season, and in doing so further underlined that we should all vote Jerry out. We get it: Leaving the familiar, popular, athletic Jerry in the competition despite his general inability to dance would be like letting Michelle Kwan stay at the Olympics despite the debilitating injury to her groin. They both really wanted it, but maybe someone else should get a chance at the immortal glory that a win would provide. Oops, maybe I’m taking the Olympics a bit too seriously.

Stacy, who it’s really not sarcastic at this point to call ”Little Miss Perfect,” continued to pull high scores from her lapdogs. I thought her and Tony’s quickstep was a little blah, probably because you couldn’t see the Legs in that atrocious pink dress. Their cha-cha, to an excruciating cover of ”Since You’ve Been Gone,” was more theatrical, but the usually technically sound Stacy kept forgetting what her arms were doing in favor of trying to look angry (during a song I’ve always considered to be triumphant). The dramatic face slap she had rehearsed barely registered.

That was weird, and so is the way she and Tony never, ever look at each other while they’re dancing. During their quickstep, I almost thought they were engaging in a little competition between themselves to see who could crane the neck further away from the other in order to better gaze into space. (Is that proper ballroom form?) Their accompaniment, a low-energy cover of the Supremes’ ”You Can’t Hurry Love,” didn’t do them any favors, not that they need any at this point.

Drew and Cheryl scored fairly well on their foxtrot but really raked it in during their Latin dance, the rumba, with two perfect 10s and the night’s highest single score. Both dances were fun, but I actually liked their foxtrot better. The choreography was great, especially when the two going to opposite ends of the stage and then moving toward each other while doing the same steps. The studio audience really responded to this dance, as it did to both of Lisa’s, especially when she shimmied around during a cringe-worthy version of ”Material Girl” in a decidedly material-lacking diaper costume.

The night ended with Drew and Stacy tied at 55 points; Lisa is close behind with 53; and Jerry is trailing badly with 41. Remember: You can vote for whomever you’d like, but if you don’t vote for Stacy, Hulk Hogan will kill you in your sleep.

What do you think, dancing queens? Who deserves to move on? What would you rather listen to, the house band’s music or a constant loop of Drew’s hip popping out of its socket? And which couple will go all the way…to Disneyland?