Lisa de Moraes TV Column: Why'd DeLay Put Away Dancing Shoes

On Tuesday night, Tom DeLay was wheeled to a hotter-than-expected interview with Jimmy Kimmel by Maksim Chmerkovskiy, left, Cheryl Burke, center, and Debi Mazar.
On Tuesday night, Tom DeLay was wheeled to a hotter-than-expected interview with Jimmy Kimmel by Maksim Chmerkovskiy, left, Cheryl Burke, center, and Debi Mazar. (By Mitch Haddad -- Abc)

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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, October 8, 2009

Did the producers of "Dancing With the Stars" drop a brick on Tom DeLay's feet when he became the show's main story line and they saw where the ratings were heading?

DeLay resigned from "Dancing With the Stars" on Tuesday -- and not a minute too soon as viewers continued to bail out in record numbers. Despite the best efforts of fellow washed-up-celebrity dancer Donny Osmond -- efforts that included making out on-camera with the show's judge Bruno Tonioli while Bruno yelled at him to "come over to the dark side!" -- the popular dance competition series had turned into a medical soap opera about DeLay and his stress-fractured feet.

Every night it was on ("Dancing" airs Monday and Tuesday nights), it was:

Will Tom DeLay's injuries prevent him from dancing?

And:

Will one or two of our stars be leaving tonight? We'll update you on the condition of Tom DeLay when we come back.

As the Fractured DeLay Feet drama became the main story line of the new season, viewers started their exodus.

Monday's performance show attracted the smallest audience on record for a fall edition's third performance episode. And Tuesday's results show suffered the smallest audience on record for any regularly scheduled episode of the program in its entire history. This is the ninth edition of "Dancing With the Stars."

And yet, DeLay continued to survive to dance another week because people were voting for him, leading to ruminations that people were voting for DeLay weren't actually suffering through his performances each week.

Goodness knows the show's three professional dance-competition judges didn't want him to keep returning. Each week, he was awarded either the fewest votes by the judges or the second-fewest votes.

But in "Dancing," the judges votes are combined with "viewer" votes, and the celebrity whose overall tally is smallest gets the old heave-ho.

"As long as people out there want to keep us on the show, it doesn't matter what the judges say," DeLay noted cynically on Tuesday's show.


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