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How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 4)

This post is the 4th and final part of a series where I basically tell the producers of DWTS how they should change the show – it’s for their own good. :-)  This part is more to the audience, but also for the producers.  If you want to read parts 1, 2, and 3 you can find them here:

How to Fix DWTS Part 1

How to Fix DWTS Part 2

How to Fix DWTS Part 3

A reminder for those easily induced into righteous indignation – this is NOT about the various couples but about the JUDGES and the Producers – I’ve provided examples of problems that I remember from season to season. If you get your knickers in a twist about Melissa or Shawn or Mya or Nicole or Maria, I’m not going to waste time arguing with you, I’m going to call you names (maybe to myself, maybe publicly – we’ll see) and then ignore you. Keep it on topic.

————-

I’ve never been one to believe in a high degree of manipulation of the show via the packages. I mean, let’s face it – no one MADE Maks be an ass with half his partners. And I’ve had people who work on the show tell me that what you see is usually what you get. Not to mention that after many seasons on the show, these pros know if you give the producers exciting footage, they are going to USE it. So, don’t be stupid. Take up the song “The Camera’s really on me now” by Derek Hough and Nicole Scherzinger. And suck it up. I get that the job of the producers is to get ratings. You get ratings by getting people talking. Be it a showmance or a knock down drag out fight. If you’re not smart enough to realize that camera really is recording everything you do, then it’s on YOU.  Maks and Hope really WERE awful, Karina and Apolo (sadly) really were stressed out and boring, and Drew and Anna were indeed too intense and serious. Read more..

February 10, 2013 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 3)

This post is part 3 of a new series where I basically tell the producers of DWTS how they should change the show – it’s for their own good. :-)  If you want to read parts 1 and 2, you can find them here:

How to Fix DWTS Part 1

How to Fix DWTS Part 2

 

A reminder for those easily induced into righteous indignation – this is NOT about the various couples but about the JUDGES and the Producers – I’ve provided examples of problems that I remember from season to season. If you get your knickers in a twist about Melissa or Shawn or Mya or Nicole or Maria, I’m not going to waste time arguing with you, I’m going to call you names (maybe to myself, maybe publicly – we’ll see) and then ignore you. Keep it on topic.  And by all means – if you remember other instances of fishiness, feel free to share. I can’t guarantee we will agree, but I would be interested to hear.

Dear DWTS Producers (cont.)

We’ve talked all about the stupid scoring methods the judges have, although not really touching on how much you producers influence that scoring. It’s really hard to say what is Len being an ass and what is producer directed underscoring with the goal of drama, making it a horse race or holding on to the contestants who grab viewers attention, albeit not necessarily actual votes.  Who’s doing it and their ultimate goal? Don’t know, kinda care, really wish you would CUT IT OUT. I think it’s obvious. One only has to compare how Len scored Shawn, Nicole and Mya to see a pretty distinct pattern. I didn’t look much farther than those three, initially, but after my last posting I had to look at another talented dancer, Jennifer Grey. Jennifer didn’t suffer from the same scoring bullshit as the other three ladies. Why? Well, my guess is that she wasn’t anywhere close to “guaranteed” win (in the producers and judges eyes, mind you) that the other ladies were. She was 50 years old at the time and had some rather serious medical issues – almost didn’t dance in the finale, if you recall. Falsely crapping on her dances would seem…well, heartless.  She started the show as the sympathetic character with a very nostalgic feel. The other pseudo ringer that season was Brandy – she learned to dance for a movie, like Jennifer, and went to a performing arts high school – like Jennifer. Keeping in mind that I haven’t seen her dances since her season aired, you will note that she was getting consistently beaten by Jennifer in scoring up until week 5, when she beat Jennifer. She also beat Jennifer in week 6, then tied her in weeks 7 and 8, before being eliminated. I’m tempted to say that she had the Len curse that season….but since I haven’t watched the dances in a while I can’t really make the call. Looks like it though.

Brooke and Kristi were the high scorers nearly every week they were on the show, season 5 was all over the place, and Gilles seemed destined to win season 8, which leads me to believe that this little game didn’t really start happening until after that season. Were they getting tired of sure things, even though Gilles ended up not winning? Decided to make the game more interesting? Totally pissed that Shawn won and Gilles/Melissa didn’t?  I wish they would quit it. It’s always nice to have excitement on a show, but not at the expense of reality. Read more..

January 20, 2013 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 2)

This post is part 2 of a new series where I basically tell the producers of DWTS how they should change the show. Cuz I’m bossy like that. :-)  If you want to read part 1, you can find it here —> How to Fix DWTS Part 1  A reminder for those easily induced into righteous indignation – this is NOT about the various couples but about the JUDGES and the Producers – I’ve provided examples of problems that I remember from season to season. If you get your knickers in a twist about Melissa or Shawn or Mya or Nicole or Maria, I’m not going to waste time arguing with you, I’m going to call you names (maybe to myself, maybe publicly – we’ll see) and then ignore you. Keep it on topic.

Dear DWTS Producers (cont.)

Scoring – to keep the “better” dancers over the “not so much” dancers.  “Better” being highly subjective. This is another common problem that many of us have seen on the show in the mid weeks of a season.  Say you have a dancer named Hope. She’s not a great dancer, but she’s explosive when paired with the bad boy of the ballroom – good for controversy and smack talk if not much else. Well, you want your show to be talked about and there are much more “disposable” celebrities on at the same time, so what do you do?? Well, of course, you pad Hope’s scores to give her just enough of a boost that she sticks around for a couple weeks, even if there are better dancers (such as Kristin, Chynna and even David – well, maybe not “better”  in David’s case, but certainly more charming) that are at risk of leaving. Ya gotta have your ratings, right?  Now, when all the disposable celebs are gone and you start scoring Hope for real, what happens?? Well, both Hope AND her fans and the rest of the audience are saying, “Wait a second. Last week I got a much better score for a dance that wasn’t as good as this one.”  And the conspiracy theories abound. And with good reason, right?  Hope’s not even the best example of this – I’m sure my readers can come up with good-ish dancers who were intentionally over scored just so they would stay longer than the really crappy dancers, only to start getting lower scores in the later weeks – so that the *great* dancers would survive.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Of course, they don’t always get worse scores in later weeks.  I have to wonder just how much protecting of Melissa was done early on for dancing that wasn’t that great.  She got a 37 (out of 40) on a Jitterbug in week 4 that had seriously messy lifts (the in and outs mainly) – one of which was almost a fall. It kinda makes me laugh cuz Shawn was picked on for “tricks” yet this dance was ALL tricks and any dancing there was was simplistic.  CAI, Len and Paula even called them on it and they still got a 37. She got a 27 the week before on a samba that was just too precious – and a 30 when they re-danced it and she did no better on it. Me thinks they were terribly afraid of Kirstie and Emmitt, early on, when it came to Melissa, and they were pulling a Maria late in the season (see below). Except for the very last one (maybe) her tangos and pasos were routinely over scored – so soft. :::shrug::: Hope and Melissa are far from the only examples. Maria was overscored on her Jive (if Shawn had danced that dance, Len would have decimated her), either to let her be eliminated with a high score (dangerous) or because they were hoping (strangely) that she could get past Donald, who they clearly didn’t care for much.  I always thought her salsa was overscored as well.  She was definitely a better dancer than many of the others in week three, when the salsa happened, but I imagine there was some doubt as to the strength of her fanbase.  The judges/producers seem to have so many goals, it’s hard to keep track of. One of them has to be making sure the better dancers with questionable fanbases make it to the end over the crap dancers who are popular. Read more..

December 17, 2012 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

How to Fix DWTS – An Open Letter to Producers (Part 1)

ETA: Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those in Newtown, Connecticut tonight.

How to “Fix” DWTS – An Open Letter to the Producers. This is going to be a rather long series, judging by the length of part 1 by itself. :-)  I tried to do it all in one post but my Word version is already five pages long and I’m less than half way done. The below is the first two and a half pages. :-) Oh, and I give a LOT of examples that are just that – examples with names inserted. They may or may not be accurate.  The point is likely in bold – this isn’t about individual dancers but about judge’s and producer’s behavior in a more general sense.

Dear DWTS Producers,

You need lots of help, because a lot of people can now see the man behind the curtain. And he’s just a man, he ain’t no wizard.  So, I’m going to try to help you. You may not like what I have to say and you certainly don’t have to listen to what I say.  But I AM the average viewer (sort of) and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my growing disgust with parts of how you run your show.  Disgust seems like too strong a word, but it was the first one that popped into my head, so we’re going with it. So…read on.

NUMBER ONE THING TO REMEMBER: Your viewers aren’t stupid. Except when they ARE. :-)

Most of the viewers of DWTS have been watching it long enough that they know a good Cha Cha from a stinky Cha Cha or a boring Cha Cha. So, when you give crap to someone like Shawn and Derek for a tractor and a cow, then rave over Kirstie Alley or (worse) Bristol Palin, a good chunk of your audience is rolling their eyes. And you lose a bit of credibility. They aren’t that stupid – trust me. Even the super Maks fans recognize that Kirstie isn’t at the same level as Shawn – just one example of dozens, of course. And for obvious reasons, not the least of which is age. But I skip ahead…

These very same viewers are sometimes easily manipulated by someone with a subtle (or even not so subtle) hand – especially when some of them are pre-disposed to buy into certain manipulations.  And most people are, in some respect. “Too much frippery” or “not enough content” or “not enough in hold” or “always breaking the rules” or “no chemistry” – all things that have been true and NOT true (often within the same SHOW) and often used against one dancer but not another – again, within the same show. But you make these claims often enough (true or not) and people start to believe it. Why do you think politicians continually say things that are easily disproven if one were to look them up?? Because they know that the average person is inclined to believe what a person who they feel is in a position of authority says, especially if they hear it a lot. Like LEN, for example.  People constantly regurgitate what they hear Len say, as if he’s never wrong. Of course, they think he’s wrong when he’s talking about THEIR favorite…but not everyone else’s. Then he’s spot on. Go figure. Odds are, if you think he’s wrong once he’s actually wrong when you think he’s right too.

But Len and the judges are just part of the problem.  I’ve outlined several issues that I see with the show and how I think you could easily fix them.

Scoring – Dancers against each other or against themselves? Here at PureDWTS, we’ve raged over this issue season after season after season. There’s been a bit of arguing about it as well. Say you have two dancers…we’ll call them Bristol and Apolo. Bristol is a young woman with a questionable fanbase (and even more questionable work ethic) but definitely an attention getter, and she’s not a great dancer but not horrendous either. Apolo is very popular athlete, handsome, hard worker and a really good dancer.  Now, our esteemed judges, on week 1, give Bristol all 6.5’s while they give Apolo all 7.0’s – for the same dance style.  Um…okay. Anyone’s who’s seen them dance likely does not agree AT ALL with only a half point separation per judge, but okay. Let’s say it’s a fluke. Week 2 rolls around and Bristol gets an 18, while Apolo gets a 24.5 – AWESOME. Life is how it should be, to anyone who has watched this show for any length of time. But uh oh – Week 3. Bristol dances Paso to Living on Video (an iconic dance to all viewers) and gets 7.5’s across the board for a 22.5.  Apolo does a foxtrot and gets a 25.5. Hum. A 3-point difference between a guy like Apolo and Bristol in week 3. That’s it??It gets worse – it’s only 2.5 points in week 4.  Now, this isn’t even the most egregious example of this – I just picked those two because they were on last season. Luckily, Bristol got the boot in week 4. But in the past, better dancers have been eliminated because of the judges’ tendency to say “Oh, you’ve improved so much from your first week!!” to people who really aren’t that good to begin with. And since you started with 7’s (a ridiculous first week score – or it should be – for many or most couples) you’ve got no place to go but up. Of course, since you picked someone like Bristol for the all-star season in the first place is a whole other problem – ya kinda have to give her good scores to justify her presence on the season, eh? Anyway, the judges have a real problem with scoring someone based on how they’ve improved. Now, by itself, this might not seem like a huge problem. But you throw in a great dancer with a great fanbase who doesn’t live up to (likely too) high expectations?? They get scored MUCH harsher and you end up with a tiny spread between a great dancer and a mediocre/bad dancer.  How is that the viewers are the only ones who see how ridiculous this is?

The fix?? STOP IT. Stop ragging on the Shawns and Apolos of the cast, while praising the Bristols and perhaps your audience will start to take you seriously once again. Sure, it’s a light, fluffy dance show – but if your audience thinks you have NO credibility?? Yer still screwed.  You become as respected as Honey Boo Boo. Can’t help yourself?? Think it’s only fair to give the less fortunate a fighting chance??  Make a judge’s rule. Once you are past Week 4, the gloves come OFF and you judge the dancers against each other.  Of course, you’ll have to have real criteria that’s PUBLISHED so the fans can follow along…but we’ll get to that in a later part. :-) It would also help if you started LOWER. Hand out 4s and 5s…and even 3s. Then you have a place to go with the scores for the not great dancers who improve without making it look like you are punishing the good dancers for BETTER dancing.

Bottom Line: When you set the bar extremely high for dancers like Nicole, Mya, Shawn, Apolo, Brandy, Jennifer…the list goes on…just because you expect more from them, it is patently unfair. When the bar is lower for the bad dancers and result is a very small spread between the mediocre/bad and the good/great?? Shocking eliminations abound. AND your audience believes you might be rigging the show.

To be continued in Part 2….

December 14, 2012 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

DWTS 15 All-Star Cast Rumors List: Who’s In, Who’s Out, Who’s a Maybe, Who Knows???

With all of the coverage of the upcoming all-star season we’ve been doing, we realize it can get a little hard to keep up and remember who’s said yes, who’s said no, who’s just a maybe, etc.  So for the sake of maintaining everyone’s sanity and trying to keep at least some degree of organization, here’s a handy list of what celebs we’ve been covering as it pertains to the all-star season, broken down by their original season, along with a brief summary of where they stand.  We’ll keep this post stuck to the main page until the cast announcement, and we’ll post updates in red as they come in. 

ETA #1: Updated with coverage of Joey Fatone & Trista Sutter, and an update of Ralph Macchio. 

ETA #2: Added info on Kelly Monaco. 

ETA #3: Update on Maria Menounos. 

ETA #4: A little over 24 hours until the cast announcement and updates & rumors coming fast & furious! Thanks Vogue & Heidi :-)Updates on Gilles Marini, Joey Fatone, Melissa Rycroft, Stacy Keibler, Kendra Wilkinson, & Carson Kressley; added info on Melissa Joan-Hart & Pamela Anderson. 

Season 1:

Trista Sutter – a few interesting tweets that seemed to imply she was heading somewhere to do something secret, but now says she is definitely not taking part in the all-star season :-(
Kelly Monaco – hinted at a GH fan event that she was “going to need fans’ help with something that’s getting announced next Friday!”

Season 2:

Stacy Keibler – played coy, said “possibly” if she was asked to return; says we’ll “have to wait & find out”; rumored as a possible X-Factor host; Entertainment Weekly claiming she’s not likely to do the show
Drew Lachey – said he “had a blast and would be open to doing it again”, but wasn’t sure how things would play out

Season 3:

Jerry Springer – said he may do SOMETHING for the show and would love to be in the audience, but wouldn’t dance again
Mario Lopez – spilled the beans about being asked to do the all-star season on Live with Kelly way back in May, and was thinking about it; however, he now says he’s “too busy” and “doesn’t think he’ll be able to do it” – mentioned as a rumored candidate to host X-factor
Joey Lawrence – asked fans on Twitter to vote for him to get on the all-star season

Season 4:

Joey Fatone – says he isn’t really sure if he’d do it or not, and that he hasn’t gotten a call yet; Entertainment Weekly claiming he’s “likely” to do the show Read more..

July 13, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

Brandy Not Sure She Would Want To Return For Dancing With The Stars All-Star Season

Brandy talked with Kempire Radio about the possibility of coming back to Dancing With The Stars for the All-Star Season. She said she was scared to do the show the first time. So much so, Brandy thought she was “going to die” every time she performed. She hasn’t got the call to return for the All-Star Season and she’s not sure she wants it. lol This is cute.

Thanks to @DWTSGossip for the heads up on this news. You can listen to more of this fun interview with Brandy which includes her thoughts on Whitney Houston, her career, and more HERE.

June 4, 2012 I Written By

I'm a fashion and music fan....and I have always loved dancing too of any kind. Dancing With The Stars seems to have this way of bringing all of those things together. One of my favorite dancing quotes at the moment: "No matter what, nobody can take away the dance you've already had...." ~Gleb Savchenko . For fun music and dance mixes, visit WilUnleashed Soundcloud.

Court’s DWTS Las Vegas Adventure (Live Show Review & Other Miscellanery)

As many of you know, I was in Las Vegas last weekend and had the pleasure of seeing the DWTS live show at the Tropicana – which, of course, I will review for you guys, since certain other individuals *cough*JOHN*cough* haven’t managed to write the 2nd half of their review of the premiere of said show ;-) This post could get a bit wordy, as I took quite a few notes (and just have a really good memory, to boot) and I’ll throw in a few other possibly-unrelated-to-DWTS details for context, as well as some general Vegas info, since some of you have asked about my trip – so if you’re only interested in my review of the show, feel free to skip the next few paragraphs.  And if you hate spoilers (i.e. you want to be COMPLETELY surprised when you see the show), I’d either just skip this post altogether or just read my overall take at the bottom – because I’m not holding back.  You’ve been warned ;-) And special thanks go to Heidi, for helpin’ a girl out with some picture merges that were driving me cray-cray :-P

So why was I in Vegas in the first place, you ask? My best friend Kendra is getting married at the end of July, and she wanted a bachelorette party for the ages – so naturally, we HAD to go Vegas :-) There were 12 of us altogether (11 rowdy bachelorettes and 1 gay bachelor, who I must say put us all to shame with how fabulously he was dressed the entire trip ;-)), and the majority of us stayed at the Flamingo, since we were able to get a great rate on standard rooms – with 4 girls to a room, it was only $82 total for each of us for 3 nights, which is pretty awesome for a well-known hotel on the strip that isn’t a total dive.  Overall, I wouldn’t say the Flamingo is a particularly special or ritzy hotel (if that’s what you’re looking for, I’d go with the Bellagio, Palazzo, or Venetian…but be prepared to shell out big $$$), but if you’re on a budget, it’s certainly more than sufficient – the rooms are clean and the decor is kitchy & cute (think 1960’s, Rat Pack, original Ocean’s Eleven – lots of dots, stripes, retro furniture, and of course, pink :-)).  I’m very into the nostalgia of Vegas, so the Flamingo appealed to me in that it was originally built by infamous mobster Bugsy Siegel, and legend has it that the actual motive behind his murder was to change the management of the Flamingo.  But anyway – if you’re in Vegas, I definitely recommend trying their Paradise Garden Buffet – it’s pretty affordable, as far as buffets in Vegas go, and is quite good…especially the brunch buffet.  Plus the views of their courtyard and flock of live flamingoes are gorgeous :-) Also at the Flamingo? Donny & Marie Osmond’s live show – I didn’t see it (no time, and honestly, not much of a desire), but I did see these in the lobby:

The one on the left is Donny’s costume from his freestyle with Kym in season 9, as well as his MBT (and yes, according to the guest services director that I asked, it is his real MBT – apparently he insisted it be put in the case with his costume); the one on the right is Marie’s dress from her quickstep with Jonathan in season 5 (and one of those freaky dolls she designs – guess they had to put SOMETHING there when they found out that Donny wanted to display his MBT, although I’m not sure why they didn’t display this doll instead).  I found Marie’s costume pretty unremarkable up close – for as fabulous as it looked on the show, upon further scrutiny, it’s really just a tan silk gown with some gems glued on; but Donny’s suit is very well-made and clearly took a lot of work.  Interesting how different the costumes look on tv vs. in person (more on that later). Read more..

May 19, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

PureDWTS Exclusive! An Interview with Randall Christensen, Part I

A few months back, we asked you guys to submit questions for Randall Christensen, the costume designer for DWTS from seasons 2-12.  Well now that the holidays are over and we’re starting to get back into the swing of things, we’re sharing Randall’s responses :-)

We’ve been lucky to get a chance to chat with Randall, since he has kept very busy since moving on from DWTS! He’s currently working a couture swimwear line with MiracleSuit (check out Vogue’s post on the Macy’s MiracleSuit fashion show last summer!), is working on a sportswear/ready to wear collection, and is still designing dancesport costumes for Randall Designs, Inc., his costume design company for the past 30 years.  Let’s see what this dancewear icon has to say in response to some of your burning questions :-)

At what age did you start designing?

Randall Christensen: I started designing for my professional partner and students back in the early ‘80’s, learning the craft with “hands on” experience.  I am self-taught.

Who were your mentors?

RC: My first mentor (and still most influential) was Bob Mackie.  He was designing for Carol Burnett as well as Cher for their (respective) shows.  I was a pre-teen and tried to NEVER miss a single one of their shows, as I was mesmerized by their costumes!

Seems like things at DWTS run on a pretty hectic timetable. Can you descibe what a typical week was like for you at DWTS?

RC: A typical week at DWTS starts new on Monday/Tuesday with new designs for each couple.  If we are lucky enough to get the music by Monday (instead of typically Tuesday) I try to get the couples up to the wardrobe department to discuss concepts for the next week’s costumes.  I only get 15-20 (30 mins. tops) to listen to the music, research ideas, discuss, design and finalize.  Then the entire show is shopped Wednesday by 5pm and delivered back to the studio, where I go over every women’s design with our cutter/fitter (the mens’ costumes are done off site, by our dance tailor in downtown Los Angeles).  The costumes are cut/sewn/preliminarily fitted on Thursday, then I have celebrity fittings all day Friday. My assistant helps on Saturday with the professional women’s fittings, they’re altered and ready for the final fitting on Sunday, after the couples do their blocking for the camera.  Adjustments are made and then are trimmed, beaded, crystallized and trimmed out to completion.  Monday morning is time to review each costume before setting them in the individual dressing rooms.  We have dress rehearsal only a few hours before we go LIVE on the east coast.  During that time any last minute adjustments are made and redelivered to the couples’ dressing rooms, sometimes just minutes before they’re to go to the top of the stairs for their walk down – live!  We have to design/shop/fit/finish each and every costume in 3.5 to 4 days!!  Whew!

What types of fabrics are the best for ballroom costumes?

RC: Thank goodness for stretch fabrics, jerseys, lycras, etc.!  These help the costume to be quite comfortable as well as flexible.  We can then get a terrific fit with little to no wrinkles in the fabric.  Chiffon (both silk and polyester) are great for the ballgown skirts, due to the wonderful movement.  Charmeuse satin is a terrific vintage type fabric, reminiscent of some of Ginger Rogers’ gowns.

Are there limitations, or can you work with pretty much anything?

RC: I push the limits every chance I get!  How else can you continue to come up with fresh ideas?  That being said, some fabrics are VERY challenging!  I try not to use brocades, as they are just to stiff and unforgiving for costumes.  Not to mention the fact that they do not flow at all!  I love using natural trims, for an organic vibe, still mixing in crystal rhinestones of course.  We have to have a sparkle on almost everything.

What is the most extravagant costume you’ve ever designed for the show, and who wore it?

RC: I would say the most extravagant costume would have to be Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette-inspired Viennese Waltz gown (complete with powdered blonde wig and all).  To be as authentic as possible, we went to a costume house and purchased a “cage” to make the silhouette as close to the look of the era as possible.  It was almost all completely sewn by hand, on the dress form as there is no way to get that wide cage (for the hips) on the sewing machine to work on.  Quite labor intense, but what a gorgeous look!  And still, we did it in just under 4 days……I still break out in a sweat thinking about that one!

*photo courtesy ABC/Kelsey McNeal

If you could only pick one DWTS costume as your “all-time favorite”, which would it be and why?

RC: Besides Toni Braxton’s Marie Antoinette gown, I would have to say Joanna Krupa’s “Futuristic Paso Doble.”  We pushed the limits (again) of what we could do in just 4 days.  The silver silk lame with electric lights (all wired into the dress) was sensational, but a nightmare to get done in such a short time.  We had a lighting specialist up from San Diego for 3 days just wiring the darn thing.

*photo courtesy of ABC

Everyone has regrets. Have you ever looked back at a costume you’ve designed for the show and thought “What was I thinking???” If so, which one & why?

RC: Oh, I’m sure we ALL have regrets, but I have to say, we have a really good track record if you consider that from concept to completion is 4 days maximum.  The discipline the couple has to have to stick with the original design, in spite of choreographing after the design is done, a procedure which is completely backwards! That being said, each and every week I look at the costumes, making mental notes as to what we could have done better, or what I would have done differently.  The beauty is I get another chance 4 days later.

Who have been your favorite celebs and/or pros to design for, and why?

RC: I count myself quite lucky to have such a great rapport with the pro dancers, and we have such fun with (and trust in) each other.  Our design sessions are quite intense and rewarding. I have enjoyed the trust that almost all of the celebrities have shown to me.  I honestly think that they put their trust in me (and their pro partner) due mainly to the fact that they are in such a foreign and vulnerable area.  They have not danced like this before, and really have to rely on our experience and expertise.  The trust that Susan Lucci, Jennifer Gray, Florence Henderson, Chelsea Kane and Kirstie Alley (to name a few) showed me was quite humbling and really rewarding!  This definitely impacts how wonderful their costumes showed on them.

Do you have an all-time favorite? 

RC:  I would have to say that as far as professional dancers, Edyta Sliwinska made ME look good!  I wish I could take credit for her beauty, but she came that way!!  That being said, I have to admit that Edyta was remarkably prepared each week, knew what looked good on her, and above all else, she left me to interpret her ideas and trusted me completely.  What a dream lady to work with!  Toni Braxton and Brandy both were appreciative, trusting and so lovely to design for.

What happens to the costumes after they’ve been worn?

RC: The celebrities have the option of purchasing any of their costumes, once the season is over.  Kristi Yamaguchi and Shawn Johnson purchased all of their costumes, along with several celebs. buying their favorite one(s).  We keep a great majority of the costumes from past seasons in a storage facility quite close to the studio.  We also keep a few on hand right in the workroom, in case we need a last minute “fix.”  We have NEVER had to use one of those yet!

We’ve noticed some get reused and others don’t. How do you decide which ones get reused?

RC: We reuse costumes based on the producers’ requirements/suggestions, as well as our guest choreographers’ ideas.  Many times (most of the time) we re-work them so that their silhouettes more readily coordinate with each of the other dancers’ looks, for a more cohesive themed look. There is just not enough hours in the week to make ALL the costumes seen on Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows.  That said, we ALWAYS make something new for our couples for Monday’s show.  The pro numbers and (pro) group numbers may get previously worn costumes, but NEVER on celebs nor their partners for Monday’s competition!

*photo courtesy ABC/Adam Larkey

Do certain pros want specific kinds of alterations (i.e. shorter hems, lower necklines, mesh inserts, etc) on costumes that have been worn before by someone else?

RC: Again, it’s all about the overall theme/silhouette desired.  Our pro dancers do have their specific preferences, and if we could accommodate them, we most certainly would.  Some of those preferences are just going to be kept secret – no use spoiling the illusion……

Tune in later this week when we reveal part II of our exclusive interview…and Randall talks theme nights, panic attacks, and his love of princess seams (?) ;-) You won’t want to miss it!!!

January 9, 2012 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!

Dancing with the Stars Celebrities: “What Do You Mean, I’m A Ringer??” Part 1

This is the one issue that comes up over and over again when discussing DWTS. We see it in our comments; you see it tossed about on message boards like an accusation or castigation. Almost always it’s in reference to ALL of Derek’s partners, which is just ridiculous. Most of the male pros and a few of the female pros have had a ringer of one kind at one time or another – that’s just the way it goes. NO ONE has a ringer, or “dancer” every single time – that’s abundantly clear to anyone who engages their brain.  Frankly, if we didn’t have the occasional ringer and had a season of mediocre dancing, I think people would tune out very, very fast.  I don’t mind an amusing or talented ringer – what I DO mind is the revisionist history that follows a DWTS season where the accusations start to fly.  Even the mainstream media and certain pro dancers (cough-Louis-cough) – never very clever at the best of times – chimes in on this hue and cry.  It’s quite narrow minded. And it’s just not that simple – as I will show.  :-)

How do I define “ringer” – well, for me, it’s not so black and white. ALL kinds of people have advantages over other people going into the show that have NOTHING to do with dancing.  To isolate ONE positive attribute (dance experience) and ignore the others is too simplistic and narrow minded. There are also degrees of dance experience from someone who taught dance (Mya) to someone who was in a music group which performed a lot of choreography (Nicole, Lance, Sabrina, Mel B, etc.). Even college or professional cheerleaders fall into the ringer camp, albeit a bit lower on the sliding scale than your average boy bander. There is no denying that training to be a cheerleader and learning the choreo gives you a leg up (cough) on someone like Shannon Doherty or Tom Delay. But if you took dance when you were a little girl, prior to even being a teen ager? Give me a break.  We can certainly debate if there is a real difference between cheerleading and the Pussycat Dolls – but spare me the sermons on how Joanna took ballet until she was 11. If anyone is silly enough to point to that as an advantage – well then nearly ALL the female celebrities have that advantage. Not so.

But those are your ringers with dance experience – what about someone who comes on the show and you know instantly that they are going to win?? Wouldn’t they also be a ringer? I say absolutely. If you come on the show and you’re so beloved or popular (with the DWTS Demo) that everyone knows you’re going to win, then I say that’s a form of ringer all its own. Kristi, Shawn and Donny – all extremely popular athletes and entertainers and all nearly guaranteed a win. I say “nearly” because Shawn was nearly unseated by a hot, gorgeous, very talented dancer in Gilles Marini. On paper, however, Shawn was a shoe-in.  Evan Lysacek almost falls into this camp and I thought he would win his season – but he apparently burned a few bridges in his time with a potentially huge voting block of skating fans.  I would ordinarily put someone like Jennifer Grey in this category, but not this time, simply because her liabilities really did outweigh her popularity. Being age 50 is no small thing when it comes to the task of dancing on DWTS; add in the screws in her neck and the problems with her foot and you’ve got someone unlikely to actually win. That she did win is likely a testament to Derek’s ability to choreograph entertaining routines around a fairly limited amount of motion, compared to her competitors, most of which were at least 20 years her junior.  All that said, I did give her a low level ringer status due to the age and physical ailments offsets.  I also put KirstieAlley in this group at a lower level – she’s another older, beloved, iconic actress, although possibly not at the level of Jennifer Grey. Hard to say where to draw the line on that one, as she was older than Jennifer, but didn’t have the same physical ailments.

This is what I mean when I say all kinds of people have advantages (and in some cases huge disadvantages) coming into the show.  You don’t get to just point and scream “RINGER!!!” unless you’re a child who doesn’t know any better.  We’re going to use this blog to actually THINK about this. We’re going to discuss how the *disadvantages* a celebrity has have just as much impact on their chances of winning as their advantages do – no one is just a ringer in a vacuum. And we’re going to list all the pros and their partners, and where they fall on the sliding scale of “ringerdom”. :-)  We’re also going to discuss the difference between dance “experience” and dance “ability” because a lot of people seem to think the two things are interchangeable.  If you need Websters, this would be a good time to pull it out. :-) I’ll also talk about the difference between hindsight (all of Derek’s partners are dancers!!!), and who were actually likely to be good on paper going in. And who weren’t.

We’re going to start with the female pros, mainly because they are easier – and there are fewer true ringers. That will be in Part II – first, some notes on how I got to where I did on categorizing the dancers over the seasons.

Notes: Read more..

September 3, 2011 I Written By

I'm a nerd and proud of it. Two degrees in geology also means I love BEER. :-) I'm also a Derek lover - proud of that too. So don't scream at those of us on this site and call us a bunch of "biased Derek-lovers" - it's just ME. :-) It may sound like I hate DWTS at times, but really, I'm just a snarky nitpicker from way back. And I'm cynical and jaded too. But I do love DWTS. :-)

DWTS Who Wore it Better? Part XII – More from Season 12

So the addition of the troupe this past season did have one unexpected positive effect: even more costume dittos! Which makes my job a bit easier ;-) And I’m noticing the costume department has a special affinity for red – lots & lots of sparkly, red, fringy, feathery stuff… Read more..

August 5, 2011 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Check out some of my other work at pureamericasgottalent.com!