Susan Lucci and Tony Dovolani ousted from 'Dancing with the Stars'
By John Bracchitta, 11/06/2008
A "night of firsts" that included Dancing with the Stars' first-ever judged group performance proved to be the downfall of All My Children actress Susan Lucci and her professional partner Tony Dovolani as they became the eighth couple eliminated from the reality dance competition's seventh season during last night's live results show broadcast on ABC.
Lucci and Dovolani were eliminated from the competition based on a combination of the judges' scores they'd received for their Paso Doble and group performances on Monday night's performance episode and home viewer votes cast immediately following the broadcast.
"It was definitely worth it. I just have to say I've had the most incredible experience here," Lucci said after Dancing to the Stars host Tom Bergeron had revealed that Lucci and Dovolani had been eliminated over Hannah Montana actor Cody Linley and his professional partner Edyta Sliwinska -- the only other couple still on-stage facing elimination.
"I leave [the show] with a life experience, something I will never forget. I feel so, so much gratitude for the opportunity to have had this particular experience in my lifetime," Lucci said about her Dancing with the Stars experience, which had included a hectic schedule that had her traveling coast-to-coast on a weekly basis. "Most importantly, I need to thank this incredible dancer, this incredible teacher, this incredible man Tony Dovolani."
Dancing with the Stars' judges hadn't been overly critical of the couple's individual Monday night performance, which received a score of 24 from the judges.
Bruno Tonioli had called the Paso Doble "well done" and full of "pride and dignity."
Carrie Ann Inaba had been critical of Lucci's struggle to find her power while on the dance floor but had encouraged her come up to the judges' table and say "I am doing good!" to the cameras.
"Because you are," Inaba explained.
Len Goodman said that he felt Lucci's dance had been "right up with all your best dances."
"There was passion and drama, there was a hint of danger. I thought you did a great job, both of you," Goodman said.
However Lucci and Dovolani struggled during the show's team dance performance, which split the six remaining couples into two teams -- Team Cha Cha and Team Paso Doble -- and, for the first time in the show's history, required them to perform a team dance that would be scored by the judges. The team scores would then be combined with each couple's earlier individual score to determine the round's final judges' leaderboard rankings.
Team Cha Cha consisted of Lucci and Dovolani, Linley and Sliwinska, and singer Lance Bass and partner Lacey Schwimmer while Team Paso Doble featured former NFL star Warren Sapp and his partner Kym Johnson, two-time Olympic gold medalist track star Maurice Greene and partner Cheryl Burke, and former Rock Star host Brooke Burke and professional partner Derek Hough.
While Goodman was complimentary of Team Cha Cha's performance and said each team did an "excellent job" during their solo portions, he felt Bass and Schwimmer's solo had saved the dance.
Tonioli disagreed, saying that the performance had been "teetering on the brink of disaster" and was rescued by a great performance by Lance and Lacey."
Inaba was the most critical of the team, saying that the performance had been "brutal to watch."
"The unison was terrible. I'm sorry. That's part of doing a group number, is how you dance in unison," she said.
The judges ultimately gave Team Cha Cha a score of 20.
They were much more impressed with Team Paso Doble, whom they credited with doing a much better job of working together as a team.
"The Paso Doble armada looks invincible! I loved it," Tonioli said following their performance. "That's the way to work as a unit, you always looked like a team."
Inaba agreed, saying that the group's teamwork was "flawless."
"It was just this magical mish mash of a Paso Doble, I loved it!" she added excitedly.
Goodman noted that keeping a formation as a team was easier to do with a "marching dance" like the Paso Doble instead of the Cha Cha, however, he added that the team was nonetheless "stronger and better" than Team Cha Cha.
"I thought it was fantastic job, they were much tighter," Goodman said.
The judges ended up giving Team Paso Doble's dance a score of 29 -- a huge nine-point advantage over Team Cha Cha's score that resulted in all three Team Cha Cha members finishing in the bottom three slots on the combined judges' leaderboard.
Earlier in the Monday night broadcast, Burke and Hough had achieved another seventh-seasonDancing with the Stars first when they received a perfect score of 30 for their Foxtrot performance.
"Amazing," Burke commented after learning of their score.
"That's ridiculous. I'm so happy, Brooke is amazing" Hough added.
When combined with the 29 score from their team dance, the couple led the night's judges' scores with a near perfect 59 out of 60 points.
Greene and Burke came in second with an individual score of 25 and a team score of 29, giving them a total of 54.
Sapp and partner Johnson finished third with an individual score of 21, but a group score of 29 to finish with a score of 50.
Bass and Schwimmer followed in fourth place with an individual score of 25 and a group score of 20, giving them a total judges' score of 45.
Lucci and Dovolani finished in fifth with an individual score of 24 and a group score of 20, giving them a final score of 44.
Linley and his partner Sliwinska finished in last place with an individual score of 22 and a team score of 20, giving them a final score of 42.