You Should Be Dancing With the Stars!

state_cloris.jpgMy favorite celebrity dancer by far this season is Cloris Leachman.







I just love watching Dancing With the Stars! It’s one of the few reality TV shows that I truly look forward to seeing each week. In a world where more and more off-the-wall reality programs seem to be hitting the airwaves each month, Dancing With the Stars is the only program I can count on to never disappoint me. Contestants come on the show to dance and have a good time, and whether they’re skills are good or bad, I’m always happily entertained by their performances.

My favorite celebrity dancer by far this season is Cloris Leachman. The 82-year-old Oscar- and nine-time Emmy award-winning actress has an incredible gift for comedy, most famously displayed in her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Malcolm in the Middle, and the much-loved ’80s classic The Facts of Life. With her wit and loose lips, she can be counted on to keep the judges, professional dancers, and the audience in stitches.

You never know what this outrageous comedienne, vamp and grandmother of five is going to say or do next. Already she’s responded to low scores by calling the judges bitches and bastards. She’s even tried bribing them to keep herself safe from elimination. Absolutely nothing is off limits for wild and crazy Cloris, despite repeatedly being censored by the network for using foul language. Call me crazy, too, but frankly, I find her comments laugh-out-loud hysterical. By the way, did I mention that she’s 82? Like the Energizer battery, this little lady keeps going and going and going. I think we should all hope to be that spry and spunky, not to mention just plain funny, if we’re lucky enough to live that long.

Also topping my favorite’s list is daytime TV legend Susan Lucci, or "La Lucci" as we like to call her in the soap opera world. Everyone knows Lucci best as the iconic, larger-than-life diva Erica Kane on ABC’s All My Children, but this season on Stars, we’ve gotten to see a glimpse of the real woman behind "La Lucci." So gracious and graceful, elegant and refined, it seems that like her character, the always-fabulous Erica Kane, Susan Lucci was made to shine on the ballroom floor.

Another celebrity I’m rooting for to do well is Brooke Burke. Prior to Stars, I didn’t know much about her, except that she was a past host of a show on E! But after learning that she is the mother of four (yes four!) kids—her youngest having been born just earlier this year—I’m truly amazed at how fit her body is. Burke moves so effortlessly on the floor, and she looks physically fantastic each week in her revealing costumes. I don’t know what her secret is, but having a lot of kiddies isn’t hurting Burke one bit in the fit and trim department. If anything, I’d bet she’d say that her kids help keep her on her toes.

As for the male stars this time around, I’m a big fan of famed chef Rocco DiSpirito. Not only does he sizzle in the kitchen, the guy knows how to sizzle on the dance floor, too. Okay, well, maybe he’s not exactly sizzling just yet, but he’s certainly hot enough to be bursting with potential and original flavor. The way I see it, any guy who’s handsome and smart enough to master the art of professional cooking in the kitchen can most likely rise to the challenge of doing a decent Quickstep across a ballroom floor. And can you imagine a more scrumptious dream date than with DiSpirito? I recommend starting out with a nice, home-cooked Italian meal, and then ending the evening with a passionate tango or daring Paso Doble or sexy rumba. Talk about feeling the heat!

On the flip side, however, the flame goes out when it comes to pop singer Lance Bass. Initially, I thought Bass would perform well, having done some dancing as a member of the 1990s boy band ‘N Sync. But now, after having watched Bass’s performances a few times, I’m simply not that impressed. Honestly, though, I don’t blame him totally for his lack of appeal. I think a large share of the fault lies with his professional dance partner, Lacey Schwimmer. This is Schwimmer’s first appearance on Stars, and she’s clearly not as technically polished as the other pros. Because of her inexperience, it’s only natural that Bass would suffer as her student. Schwimmer boasts that she likes to think "outside the box," but that kind of maverick attitude has no place in the world of classic ballroom dancing. Respect for tradition is what the judges want to see, and, frankly, so do I.

All in all, I do think this will prove to be another excellent season of Dancing With the Stars. The program kicked off on September 22 with its biggest cast ever of 13 celebrities, and the competition unfolded over not one, not two, but three nights in a row! Talk about exciting! So far, three celebrities (Jeffrey Ross, Ted McGinley, and Kim Kardashian) have already lost their dance cards. I just hope the next one to leave the floor isn’t Cloris; I’m rooting for her to take it all.

More than anyone else Cloris deserves to take home the crown (or in this case, the disco ball), based on her numbers alone. Forget the judges’ scores, how many 82-year-olds do you know who could get out there with attitude and pizzazz and strut their stuff each week, like Cloris? So no matter what the final results are in the weeks to come, I say Cloris has already won this dance contest, hands down. GO, CLORIS! | Retannical D. Russell

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