On ''Dancing With the Stars,'' the fans unjustly sweep Rachel Hunter off her feet; meanwhile, Kelly nearly pulls a Janet Jackson, and Joey takes Ashly to meet the family

By Michael Slezak
June 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Dancing with the Stars: Bob D'Amico/ABC

”Dancing With the Stars”: A shocking elimination

It’s a good thing I don’t really care about Dancing With the Stars. Otherwise, I might be really, really upset that Rachel Hunter, one of the show’s two best celebrity competitors, got the boot tonight, even though she outperformed rivals Kelly Monaco and Joey McIntyre this week. And last week. And the one before it.

Not that it’s a big deal or anything. Sure, Hunter rocked the best outfits of any female competitor on the show, exhibited grace, style, and poise every time she took the stage, and, in my mind, provided the only serious threat to perceived front-runner John ”J. Peterman” O’Hurley. (I’m not the only one who thought so, either. The judges loved her, too.) But it’s only a cheesy dance contest. There’s no need to get worked up into a lather. . . .

Oh, who am I kidding? I totally care about Dancing With the Stars — to the point where I call friends and family members every Wednesday and try to get them hooked on the show’s tacky, feel-good charms. I’m like the neighborhood crack dealer, only the drug I’m peddling is strictly ballroom, laced with corny jokes, sequins, and elevator music.

And one of the primary addictive elements in DWTS has been Hunter; judge Bruno Tonioli was right on when he told her she looked and danced like a ”sultry and exotic bird of paradise” tonight. Decked out in a light blue gown that gave new meaning to the expression ”shake your tail feather,” Hunter gamely hoofed her way through a complex salsa routine to ”Soul Bossa Nova,” from the Austin Powers movies. (Maybe that’s why judge Carrie Ann Inaba, who’s got a naughty Powers role on her résumé, only gave Hunter a 7, compared with the male judges’ scores of 9 each.)

I can’t think of any other reason. Objectively placing Hunter’s dance performance alongside those of Monaco, McIntyre, and O’Hurley, it’s pretty clear that she deserved to make the final two and that her ouster was more likely due to a smaller fan base than to any lack of talent. After all, Hunter performed a frickin’ headstand and a full split in her samba. Show me another contestant who did that.

Take nothing away from O’Reilly, er, I mean O’Hurley. (Surely, I’m not the only viewer who noticed cohost Lisa Canning made the surname slipup in her postdance interview with McIntyre. Nice work!) While it appeared O’Hurley may have missed a step or two during his ”Just the Two of Us” routine with Charlotte Jorgensen, the former Seinfeld player still looks more at ease than some of the ballroom professionals on the show and really seems to capture the essence of every dance he performs, right down to this week’s booty slap and knee drop combination.

I wish I had such first-rate dancing memories from Monaco and McIntyre. Unfortunately, their fair-to-middling efforts on the floor intrigued me less than some of their accompanying nondance drama. For a minute there, when McIntyre’s teammate Ashly DelGrosso went to visit his Boston homestead, I thought DWTS might be spinning off a Bachelor-esque dating series. But alas, the ABC website indicates the former New Kid on the Block is happily married. Joey and Ashly’s white-hot chemistry will go no further than the dance floor.

As for Monaco, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you: In last week’s TV Watch, I predicted a wardrobe malfunction for the sultry soap star, so it only took me a few seconds to recognize what was happening when she began clutching her breasts at inappropriate moments midway through her ”Bailamos” samba. Now, normally, I wouldn’t recommend that judges hand out 8s and 9s to a dancer just for keeping her top on, but in this case Monaco seriously earned her applause.

What was your favorite moment tonight? Do you think Rachel deserved another week on the show? And either way, why do you think she got the boot?

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