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Tom DeLay Takes a Bow, or Was He Pushed?

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.

DeLay's Jittery Shuffle

And, while we're on the twinkle-toes topic: Why did ABC late-night comic/host Jimmy Kimmel conduct the interview with DeLay that should have been conducted by ABC News -- while ABC News asked DeLay the kind of questions we would have expected to have been posed by a comic/late-night show host?

Kimmel traditionally interviews the prime-time dance show's booted celebu-dancers on the same night they are evicted. Semi-washed-up-actress/dancer Debi Mazar, who was given the hook Tuesday after receiving the fewest overall points, appeared on Kimmel's show with DeLay. He was brought out onstage in a wheelbarrow, wearing orthopedic booties.

"Do you think this will inspire other indicted politicians to dance?" Kimmel asked him.

"It keeps you out of jail -- that's for sure," responded DeLay, a smile frozen on his face.

(In case you've forgotten, DeLay had a relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials, in a deal that required Abramoff to cooperate in an investigation into his dealings with members of Congress. After stepping down as House majority leader, the Texas Republican gave up his reelection bid in 2006. He is under indictment in his home state on charges stemming from a campaign finance investigation. He has pleaded not guilty and the case has been mired in procedural challenges.)

"But if, God forbid, you wind up in jail, it's not going to be a good thing for the inmates to see on reruns," Kimmel continued.

We think this may have been Kimmel's best interview.

Ever.

"No. Probably not. I'll switch with Donny Osmond," DeLay joked. (See Osmond's antics above.)

This was clearly not the line of questioning he'd been expecting after the kid-glove treatment ABC News had given him when the network announced DeLay was going to be one of the competitors on this round of "Dancing With the Stars."

Back then, ABC News's Chris Cuomo asked DeLay:

"Why are you doing this?"

"You are known as a staunch conservative, very serious guy. How do you put the two together?"

And, our personal fave:

"Are you willing to take the step -- will you go all the way to sequins?"

Folding the 'Box'

Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes has added Kim Raver to the cast of her ABC soap "Grey's Anatomy."

This bit of casting would seem to drive a nail into the coffin of Rhimes's Washington-set project "Inside the Box," which was developed -- a pilot was even shot -- for this season. The show -- about a TV network's Washington bureau that included not only a bureau chief and an investigative reporter, but a White House correspondent who was secretly shagging the White House press secretary -- did not make the cut for this season but reportedly was being reworked. Raver was one of the show's principals.

But now Rhimes has cast Raver as a recurring character on "Grey's," which calls the future of "Box" into question.

On the other hand, a lot has happened at ABC since the network put the show into Redevelopment.

For instance, ABC figured out Washington isn't a drama -- it's a comedy! And so it has ordered the Washington, D.C.-set sitcom, from Arianna Huffington and Huffington Post founding editor Roy Sekoff, as well as "How I Met Your Mother" executive producer Greg Malins, about three young people who are shacking up together and are all newly elected members of Congress.

'NCIS: L.A.,' 'Wife' Picked Up

To the surprise of no one, CBS has given full-season orders to the two most-watched new series of this 2009-10 season: "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife."

"NCIS: Los Angeles," a spinoff of "NCIS," stars Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J -- as guys with big guns who apparently work for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service -- and also features Oscar winner Linda Hunt. The show has averaged 17.5 million viewers.

"The Good Wife" stars Julianna Margulies of "E.R." fame; this time, she plays an attorney who goes back to work after her skeevy politician husband is tossed in the hoosegow. It features Chris Noth as the aforementioned Skeevy Husband. In prison.

"The Good Wife" has averaged 14 million viewers.

"NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife" join the pantheon of freshman series that have already been picked up by their networks by season's third week -- including Fox's "Glee" and "The Cleveland Show."

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