ABC's Two-Step Program

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, July 27, 2005

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., July 26

TV critics outraged at what they believe to be a fixed outcome on ABC's hit dancing competition series "Dancing With the Stars" stormed the Bastille -- I mean the ABC executive Q&A session at Summer TV Press Tour 2005 -- Tuesday and tried to cut off the head of entertainment division chief Steve McPherson.

For those who have been napping their way through the summer and missed the hit reality show, it paired C-list celebrities with professional dancers and forced them to perform such things as the cha-cha, the fox trot and something called a pasodoble for the chance to win a really ugly trophy.

Personable "Seinfeld" minor player John O'Hurley, a crowd fave throughout the competition, was by far the best dancer, which, granted, is not saying much since all were pretty dreadful.

But in the final episode, O'Hurley lost the coveted Really Ugly Trophy to Kelly Monaco, who just happens to star in an ABC daytime soap opera and who was so bad she redefined "can't dance." But Monaco wore increasingly skimpy costumes during the show, while O'Hurley was compelled to perform fully clothed, and if that doesn't prove the whole thing was rigged, I don't know what does.

Making things worse, the voting was incomprehensible: Judges gave numerical scores to each celebrity based on that night's performances; those were added to a numerical score based on viewers' votes on the previous week's performances, with the viewer votes counting for 60 percent of the total and the judges' votes 40 percent; the lowest scorer got booted. Or something like that, which you should consider an official disclaimer because, no, there will be no correction.

Even worse, after Monaco's final performance -- I did mention she can't dance? -- the three judges gave her perfect 10 scores. And after Monaco was awarded the Really Ugly Trophy, ABC announced she's going to have a guest-starring gig on its most popular series, "Desperate Housewives," this coming season.

The TV Column Presents: "Dancing With Steve McPherson."

Episode 1

Q. Who do you think won that competition?

A. I actually like Kelly, but I'm a guy. . . . You can't underestimate the power of the daytime audience.

Score: 3 . Very weak start, McPherson. You're going to have to up your game.

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