Drama on the dance floor. Drama behind the scenes. Who knew ballroom dancing was such a soap opera (besides Kelly Monaco)? As we say goodbye to 2012, let’s relive some of the “controversies” of Dancing With the Stars’s spring Season 14 and fall All-Stars Season 15.
Jaleel White vs. Kym Johnson
The most controversial part of this Season 14 fight was that they never aired it. And they usually air anything even remotely “dramatic.” Us Weekly’s original report, at the end of March/early April, claimed Jaleel White yelled at his DWTS pro partner Kym Johnson during rehearsals and both Donald Driver and Mark Ballas got involved to try and calm Jaleel down. During the same week, Jaleel had to respond to his ex-girlfriend’s accusations of abuse. Right after dancing Week 3’s Most Memorable Year Rumba, Jaleel broke down in the Celebriquarium and said he just wanted to get through that week.
After the show, Jaleel told Entertainment Tonight there were "a lot of distractions this week." But both Jaleel and Kym rolled their eyes and shook their heads when asked about their alleged fight. "I'm going to let my wife answer that," Jaleel told ET. So Kym answered, "You know what, everyone has stressful weeks." She said she and Jaleel spar sometimes, "But it wasn't anything, you know, like, obviously a tabloid story.” "People have to realize this is a competition," Jaleel added. "I had no idea how much the tabloids just besiege this show. It's never been a part of my life at all and hopefully we can just move past this week and people see that our connection is real."
The Dance Duel
The Dance Duel was introduced on Season 14, and the judges used it to save Jaleel and Kym on Week 5, and Roshon Fegan and Chelsie Hightower on Weeks 6 and 7. Some people hated the save, some people loved the idea of it. It only seemed to give a temporary reprieve, and since it was only used for a few weeks it did nothing to save some early departures, like Sherri Shepherd and Val Chmerkovskiy leaving on Week 3. If they’re going to do this kind of thing, they shouldn’t just do it halfway.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy is a “villain,” Derek Hough is a “jerk”
All DWTS couples fight, and we’ve seen the pros show their tempers before, but Season 14, Week 8 was particularly rough — and even the pros agreed. During rehearsals Maksim Chmerkovskiyunleashed on Melissa Gilbert in a big way. In the pre-Foxtrot package, Melissa said there’s “a significant uptick in the head-butting in rehearsals.” Maks swore over and over and said he had to walk away or he was going to punch something. He told her he just spent half an hour repeating three-and-a-half moves and it made him so mad. Melissa told the cameras when it becomes too much of a berating, belittling argument, she shuts down. “You’re making me into a villain and I’m not,” Maks argued to her. “You’re making me look like a terrorist.” Derek Hough also had a rough rehearsal with Maria Menounos and afterward in the Celebriquarium he admitted “I was a little bit of a jerk.” He regretted it. Maks referenced Derek’s rehearsal words when apologizing for his own actions. “Derek said it the best: We sometimes hurt the ones we love the most. I would do anything for [Melissa]. I do think it’s too much and moving forward it won’t happen.”
Everyone gets hurt on DWTS, we just hear about some injuries more than others. They aren’t “controversial” as much as just “dramatic,” even when you have to wonder if some injuries are played up more than others. Maria Menounos was the injury star of Season 14. She suffered "two broken ribs" after she fell on pro partner Derek's knee during rehearsal for their premiere night dance, and on Week 4's Performance show, it was revealed that Maria also has stress fractures in her feet. Melissa Gilbert was injured during Rock Week practice when a tricky move went wrong and sent Melissa to the hospital after the show. William Levy hurt his ankle and had to get an MRI. On All-Stars, Melissa Rycroft had to be taken to the hospital after injuring her neck during rehearsals.Later in the season, her pro partner Tony Dovolani,, injured his back. Also on All-Stars, Derek inflamed an old injury to the point where he actually had to sit out a week, with his best friend, Mark, stepping in to dance with his old Season 8 champion partner.
Len Goodman vs. Derek on All-Stars
Judge Len Goodman called out Derek several times on All-Stars: Once for doing a Rumba with Shawn Johnson that the judge decided wasn’t a real Rumba, then on Country Week 6, for putting too much “frippery” in their Cha-Cha-Cha, and then again when Derek, Shawn and Mark Ballas did their Trio Samba. “It was very self-indulgent,” Len said. “There was very little Samba content. It’s a very critical week. Shawn, if you go home tomorrow, don’t blame me. Blame those two.” Shawn didn’t go home; she made it to second place. Derek eventually addressed Len’s issues, saying, “I've reached the point now where I'm like, it's kind of personal now.” There doesn’t seem to be any bad blood between the two, but it couldn’t have felt good. That’s another reason it’d be fun to have Derek as a judge on a future season — let him give the grief right back to Grumpy!
Apolo Ohno and Karina Smirnoff's “issues”
Honestly, we thought Apolo Anton Ohno and Karina Smirnoff had a good connection, until we were told otherwise — by Carrie Ann Inaba and then by Apolo himself when he admitted they had been "going through some issues." That was after Karina slipped during their hip hop routine, leaving her in tears. They went on to do one of our favorite dances of the season, a Viennese Waltz to Rascal Flatts's "Skin (Sarabeth),” but the mojo that had put Apolo at the top of All-Stars frontrunner lists had faded away, and he just missed making the Finals.
Bristol Palin on All-Stars
Just her showing up on All-Stars was controversial. Then she outlasted two winners — Drew Lachey and Helio Castroneves — and runner-up Joey Fatone. Then she and Mark had their rehearsals spat, with a tearful Bristol saying she felt Mark was bummed to have her as a partner instead of Shawn or Sabrina Bryan. Bristol ended up being eliminated fifth, after her best dance, so at least she went out on a high note.
Sabrina Bryan leaves sixth again
It's her wall. She and Mark were eliminated sixth on Season 5, and history repeated itself on All-Stars when she and Louis van Amstel were eliminated sixth. It was dramatic the first time, and just plain confusing the second. Sabrina was at the top of the judges’ leaderboard and still couldn’t make it past Week 6. There’s some kind of anti-Cheetah Girl barrier there.
Melissa Rycroft wins All-Stars
To some people, Melissa’s win was controversial. Conspiracy theorists felt the show was rigged, since Melissa’s is ABC’s darling and there’s no way The Bachelor alum was more popular than Shawn or Kelly Monaco, etc. They pointed to the idea that Deena Katz, DWTS's casting director, is also Melissa's manager. To us, it seems more likely that Melissa won because she combined the highest scores (she was the judges’ favorite, by the end) with the most viewer votes. She and Tony were a great team. Besides, who didn’t want Tony to win?
Dancing With the Stars Season 16 premieres March 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
Gina Carbone is a contributing writer at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @ginacarbone.