Shandi Finnessey and Brian Fortuna cut from 'Dancing with the Stars'
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/04/2007
Miss USA 2004 winner Shandi Finnessey and her partner Brian Fortuna were the second couple eliminated from Dancing with the Stars' fourth season during last night's live results show on ABC.
"This is such a great experience. I honestly cannot speak highly enough of everyone," said Finnessey upon learning she was the second celebrity participant eliminated. "The whole experience -- the cast, all the other dancers -- it was amazing."
Nine of the 10 remaining couples competing on Dancing with the Stars were separated by only four points based on the judges' scores they received for Monday night's performance of either the jive or tango. Former model Heather Mills and partner Jonathan Roberts; former Beverly Hills 90210 actor Ian Ziering and partner Cheryl Burke; former N Sync singer Joey Fatone and partner Kym Johnson; and former Entertainment Tonight, Extra and Leeza host Leeza Gibbons and partner Tony Dovolani all scored a 24 out of 30, creating a four-way tie for first.
However couples are not eliminated on the judges' scores alone, as those are combined with viewer votes, which apparently weren't very high for Gibbons and Dovolani, who joined Finnessey and Fortuna in the bottom two. It was the second week in a row Finnessey and Fortuna found themselves in the bottom two, this week with a judges' score of 21 out of 30.
Before they performed one last time, Finnessey said she wanted to make sure her early exit didn't spoil Fortuna's Dancing with the Stars debut.
"I just hope I didn't disappoint him because he's a phenomenal dancer and he shines when he's on the stage," said Finnessey as Fortuna assured her he would "never" be disappointed by their performances.
Shandi Finnessey and Brian Fortuna perform the mambo on Dancing with the Stars' March 26 live performance show (Photo credit ABC/Carol Kaelson)
Noticeably absent among the top four couples was Muhammad Ali's daughter and professional boxer Laila Ali and her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who were the judges' highest scoring couple last week. This week, the couple performed a "rule-breaking routine" when they didn't maintain contact during their tango. While Chmerkovskiy took the blame for the choreography, they both took the brunt of the penalty with a score of 21.
"What can you say... you break the rules you get knocked down some points. It is what it is," said Ali. "Of course we regret [breaking our hold on each other]. We made a mistake, and we hope that our fans voted and kept us in the competition another week."
Tying Ali and Chmerkovskiy as well as Finnessey and Fortuna's score of 21 was country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and his partner Karina Smirnoff. Two-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and partner Julianne Hough scored a 23, placing them in-between the four top couples and the middle of the pack. Ranking at the bottom were former Cheers star John Ratzenberger and his partner Edyta Sliwinska with a 20 and former NBA star Clyde Drexler and his partner Elena Grineko with a 16. This week marked the second straight week in which Drexler and Grineko finished in last in the judges' scoring but survived due to viewer voting.
Dancing with the Stars' fourth performance episode will take place on Monday, April 9 on ABC from 8PM ET/PT to 9:30PM ET/PT, with half the couples dancing the "dramatic dance of the bullfight, the Pasa Doble" and the other half dancing a "romantic waltz." On Tuesday, April 10 beginning at 9PM ET/PT, another couple will be eliminated from the competition based on a combination of the judges' scores and viewer votes.