Brooke Burke takes lead going into 'Dancing with the Stars' finale
By John Bracchitta, 11/25/2008
Former Rock Star host Brooke Burke and professional partner Derek Hough lived up to their billing as the couple to beat on Dancing with the Stars, receiving a combined score of 58 out of 60 during Monday night's performance prelude to the ABC dance competition's season finale on Tuesday.
Dancing with the Stars final seventh-season performance episode began with the competition's three remaining couples recapping their previous dances. Afterward, the couples competed against one another in both a group "samba smackdown" as well as a freestyle face-off.
Burke and Hough received a judges score of 28 for their performance in the smackdown, with Judge Len Goodman proclaiming Burke to be the frontrunner in the competition as the finale approached.
"You have been the sensation of Season 7," Goodman told Burke. "I think you were the one to beat in Week 1, and I think you're still the one to beat in Week 10."
Judge Bruno Tonioli added that Burke was a "dazzling, sexy sizzler of a dancer," while Carrie-Ann Inaba praised her ability to bring the technical nuances to each of her dances.
Singer Lance Bass and professional partner Lacey Schwimmer came in second place for the smackdown, receiving a score of 26 from the judges.
Goodman praised the energy that Bass brought to his section of the dance, but added that he still could work on his finesse during his performances.
Tonioli said that he had seen Bass' confidence "come up leaps in bounds" during the competition and said that he had the potential to be "a leading man" if his progress continued.
Judge Carrie-Ann Inaba credited Bass with improving every week during the competition and said that he "[had] the momentum" heading into the final round after another solid performance.
Former NFL star Warren Sapp and professional partner Kym Johnson came in third place at the smackdown, receiving a score of 25.
Goodman called Sapp's dance "fantastic" and said that he had improved his samba skills markedly by adding more content to his dance instead of "just gyrating."
Tonioli admitted that Sapp's technique was not brilliant, but said that he was "irresistible" on the dance floor.
"We love to watch you," he told Sapp.
Inaba said that Sapp's performance in the smackdown had been another example of how Sapp was "easily the most improved" contestant in the show.
The freestyle round then commenced, with Burke and Hough's performing first and receiving a perfect judges' score of 30 for their freestyle dance -- a twirl-and-lift filled dance to "You're the One That I Want" from "Grease."
"You are the one that we all want!" exclaimed Tonioli, who said that the couple's lifts had been spectacular and put them in positions "that I've only seen in the Kama Sutra."
"One of the best freestyles I've ever seen," he added.
"You have to bring it here," said Inaba to the couple. "Tonight, Brooke and Derek, you brought it!"
Goodman echoed Tonioli's statements, but was more definite in his assessment of the dance.
"That was, I think, the best frestyle I've ever seen," Goodman said amid cheers from the audience.
Burke and Hough's combined judges score of 58 continued their dominance of Dancing with the Stars' seventh season. Their scores topped the leaderboard for the eight time during the ten week duration of the show.
Bass and Schwimmer followed with their freestyle -- a hip-hop inspired break dance to Run DMC's "It's Tricky," which garnered a score of 27 from the judges for a combined score of 53.
Inaba said that, while she enjoyed most of the dance, she had not agreed with the pair's decision to add a cha cha cha routine into the middle of the dance.
"It didn't resonate with me," she told them.
However, Goodman disagreed.
I like the fact that you just did a little few bars of cha cha cha," he said. "I think you did a really good job and I was really pleased with it."
Tonioli called Bass and Schwimmer's dance "youthful, vibrant [and] exciting" and complimented their ability to always add "creativity and wit" to their dances.
Sapp and Johnson performed their freestyle -- a multi-paced dance to Ike and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" complete with lifts and rolls -- last and received a score of 28 for a combined judges score of 53.
"Each season someone comes along, right out of the blue, and is an absolute star," Goodman told Sapp following his performance. "I know you lack technique, but this show, it is not only about dancing. It's about entertainment, and as an entertainer you have no one that touches you."
"With you all resistance is futile, lay back and enjoy the ride," added Tonioli, who also thought highly of Sapp's ability to entertain during his dances.
"In all honesty, out of all the three teams, that one was my favorite," said Inaba. "You have this crazy way, you just pull us in."
The remaining couples will perform one more final routine for the judges during Dancing with the Stars' Tuesday night finale, after which those scores will be added to their Monday night scores to determine their final combined judges score totals for the finals round.
Dancing with the Stars' seventh-season mirror ball trophy winner will then be revealed based on the combination of each couple's judges score share for Monday and Tuesday night's performances and their share of the home viewer votes cast immediately after Monday night's broadcast.