Since 2005, Dancing With the Stars has become guilty-pleasure television. After all, what’s not to like about celebrities strutting their stuff with a professional dancer on live television? It’s got everything from Tom Bergeron and screaming judges to skimpy and sparkly outfits, and of course, the fancy ballroom.
Sometimes, it’s not always good times on the set, as celebrity egos and the spirit of competition can get in the way. But, something’s got to give and these are all the times when things went wrong on the dance show.
It’s Based On A British TV Reality Series
While Dancing With The Stars is a craze in America, it’s actually from England. Strictly Come Dancing has been on BBC One since 2004. Each couple is scored out of ten by a panel of judges.
The format has been exported to over 40 other countries, licensed by BBC Worldwide. The Guinness Book of Records has named the series to be one of the world’s most successful reality formats on television. The show is currently presented by Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman.
The U.S. Version Was A Surprise To Everyone
Since its debut on June 1, 2005, the series has become a rating juggernaut. America’s Funniest Home Videos host, Tom Bergeron, told Boston Magazine that the experience was very unpredictable.
“Even those of us in the midst of getting it ready to go on the air in 2005, while we all believed we had an entertaining show, that in and of itself is no guarantee. A lot of people have entertaining shows and they get canceled.”
Kate Gosselin Stirred The Pot In 2010
The former reality star created some controversy during her time on the show. The audience is only allowed to vote a maximum five times per performance, but that didn’t stop Goesslin from going above and beyond.
Unconfirmed reports later leaked that she started a chain email, asking friends to forward her message to ten more people. Plus, she asked everyone to vote for her ten times, which isn’t allowed. Despite her efforts, Goesslin and Tony Dovolani were the fourth couple eliminated during the tenth season.
They Script What People Say
It’s called reality television for a reason. The number one goal of producers is to make sure the audience is entertained. It was something that came out when former contestant Wendy Williams confirmed it on her show.
“I’m reading, I’m like, ‘Wait, this is not how I’m feeling today, and I wouldn’t say that. I’m not going to say that,’ I would tell the camera, so instead, I would say what I want to say.” She made sure to let people know that they script what contestants have to say.
They Create Storylines For Contestants
For DWTS, sometimes, it meant looking at what rumors were flying around in order to address them. Other moments are when they focus on couples that have formed before or during the show. Producer Rob Wade said all the other producers on the show meet to discuss storylines.
“With James Maslow and Peta Murgatroyd…we saw paparazzi shots of them on a date and that was way before [the show even started], so as a story point, we wanted to follow that up.”
Gosselin’s Dancing Partner Claimed He Needed Therapy After Being Eliminated
In 2012, Tony Dovolani appeared on Anderson with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The reporter told the dancer that he had felt bad for him because he got stuck with Kate Goesslin. That didn’t sit well with Dolovani, who believed the host was being too nice.
“Wait, wait—Anderson, did you just call it ‘dance?’ We didn’t dance!” he exclaimed. The dancer admitted with a laugh that “There was a lot of therapy involved.” Too bad they didn’t last long on the show.
One Of The Dancers Left The Show
Julianne Hough joined the show in 2004 as a professional dancer. She won twice after being paired with Apolo Anton Ono as well as Helio Castroneves. In 2008, she left the show, and soon released an album and starred in both Footloose and Rock of Ages.
But in 2014, she returned to DWTS as a judge, a movie Karina Smirnoff didn’t agree with. She told US Weekly, “I don’t know if it’s ethical that she is judging while her brother is competing.”
Problems Arose In The First Season Finale
During the show’s first season in 2005, there was controversy over whether the contest was rigged. General Hospital star Kelly Monaco and Seinfeld‘s John O’Hurley were the finalists. While O’Hurley and partner Charlotte Jørgensen scored top marks, Monaco’s appearance in the finale was unexpected.
The actress and partner Alec Mazo stood solidly in the middle of the field. After the first round of scores, O’Hurley was in the lead, but in the second round, Monaco and Mazo earned a perfect score. Once viewer votes were tallied, Monaco won the competition.
One Of The Judges Made A Rude Remark
The judges on the show are Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli. For Tonioli, he usually says things that pop in his mind. But one time, he crossed the line when he was on television.
The judge made a rather rude remark towards contestant Charlotte McKinney in 2015. Apparently, he was trying to tell the model she was physically attractive but said, “You’re never going to win the Nobel Prize for quantum physics, but you are easy on the eyes and you produce wonderful shapes.”
Steve Irwin’s Daughter Got Caught Up In The Courts
Bindi was only 17 years old when she competed and won in 2015. She was still considered a minor and her mother would have had to sign off on her contract. While Terri was quick to sign on the dotted line, the court rejected Bindi’s contract because it didn’t have her father’s signature on the document.
Even though the Crocodile Hunter passed away in 2006, his daughter had to go to court to prove that he had passed. Afterward, Irwin went home with her paycheck from the show.
A Few Love Connections Sparked On The Show
Numerous romances were sparked over the course of the show. Some were rumored, while others were confirmed along the way. Karina Smirnoff dated Mario Lopez, her partner in the third season, for two years.
Smirnoff would eventually become engaged to fellow dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy for nine months in 2009. Chmerkovskiy is now married to New Zealand-born dancer Petra Murgatroyd. In July 2016, Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec married his partner, Kym Johnson, and the couple now have twins.
A Famous Dance From The Nineties Made Its Return To The Ball Room
Remember the Carlton? Alfonso Ribeiro certainly does. During the nineteenth season, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air star was a contestant, with Witney Carson as his partner. In the fourth week of the season, the couples had to perform in a Most Memorable Year Night.
For the former TV star and dancer, they did a jazz dance to “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones. That song was the same one Ribeiro’s character loved on Fresh Prince, and he and his partner danced their way to the Mirrorball Trophy.
The Carlton Dance Led To Some BackLash
Jennifer Grey might have won the show’s Mirrorball Trophy, but the “Carlton Dance” brought back good memories for viewers who grew up in the nineties. It’s obvious he has dancing skills since the actor portrayed a moonwalking kid in a 1984 Pepsi commercial starring Michael Jackson.
But, the dance on the competition caused some backlash. TV critic Bill Mann said to the National Enquirer, “It’s unfair to the rest of the contestants. He has too much experience and training.”
Carole Baskin’s Debut Was A Meow, Not A Roar
The notorious big-cat rescue owner and Tiger King personality Carole Baskin made her DWTS debut on September 14, 2020. Many were surprised at her inclusion on the show, given the fact that she’s rumored to have caused her former husband’s disappearance years ago.
Her dance, a paso doble to Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger,” was considered to be a disaster and earned the lowest score of the evening. In addition, her ex-husband’s family placed a commercial during the show, pleading for any information about his disappearance or Baskin’s alleged involvement.
Jaleel White Did What Now?
In 2012, US Weekly reported that the Family Matters star blew up on partner Kym Johnson. Apparently, the actor stepped on her foot, and she reacted like she was hurt. That’s when the former child star called her an idiot and told her she was acting like a baby.
Johnson would leave the rehearsal in tears, leaving contestant Donald Driver and dancer Mark Ballas to attempt to calm down White. But, he complained about how it reminded him of that annoying sitcom neighbor who gets into everyone’s business. White was sent home for the day.
Bristol Palin Got The Votes
Because the show relies on viewers to vote, it’s not always fair to the best dancers. The best person doesn’t always advance, just look at what happened Jennifer Hudson on American Idol. For Bristol Palin, she made it all the way to the final three in 2010.
ABC News said that the daughter of the 2008 vice presidential candidate landed on the bottom of the leader board. Thanks to viewers support, she only advanced as part of a viewers allegiance to the Palin brand.
One Sport Has Proven To Be Stiff Competition
Figure skaters, gymnasts, and soccer stars have all danced in the ballroom. However, while those sports are fun, they don’t compare to NFL players, who’ve proven to be tough competition.
Players including Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward, and Rashad Jennings have all taken home the Mirrorball Trophy in their respective seasons. Other football stars such as Chad Johnson, Warren Sapp, Kurt Warner, and Antonio Brown have all traded in their football cleats for the dancing shoes.
One Cast Member From Glee Got A Not-So-Nice Dismissal
While most people are familiar with Heather Morris’ role of Brittany Pierce on Glee, she only got the role because she can dance. It turns out that she was even a backup dancer to Beyoncé. While Alfonso Ribeiro’s win came into question, it was Morris’s early exit from the show that was a shock too many.
Despite earning a perfect score for a rumba set to TLC’s “Waterfalls,” Morris and partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy got knocked out of contention early.
The Contestants On The Show Are Well Compensated
Ahead of the season 22 premiere in 2016, paycheck details were revealed by Radar Online. After they obtained the paperwork, it showed that one celebrity was offered a base pay of $125,000 for just participating in rehearsals, two weeks on the show, and an appearance on the season finale.
In addition, another reveal came out that celebrities who make it past the second round will earn money each week they stay in the competition. They can earn up to $345,000 in the process.
A Gymnast Was The Youngest Winner Of The Show
Shawn Johnson became the show’s youngest winner when she took home the gold at just 17-years-old in 2009. With her partner Mark Ballas, the duo took home the Mirrorball Trophy. The next youngest winner was Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno. He was 25 years old in the fourth season when he and Julianne Hough won.
But, in regards to some of non-winning competitors, Hunger Games actress Willow Shields was a contestant when she was just 14 years old. Fan favorite Cloris Leachman was the oldest at 82 years old when she competed in 2008.
An ESPN Anchor Was Named The Show’s Worst Dancer
Despite being a mainstay on the series as a commentator during the show’s finale, Kenny Mayne bombed on the show. He made his debut during the show’s second season back in 2006. The concern with the ESPN journalist was that he couldn’t dance, at all.
His poor dancing skills ultimately led him to him being the first contestant eliminated, but his bigger-than-life personality made him beloved by the fans. His partner was Andrea Hale, and their first and last dance was the cha-cha.
Hope Went Solo
Hope Solo did an incredible job as the goalkeeper for the United States Women’s National Team in multiple World Cups. That’s why, when she felt her male Dancing with the Stars partner was trying to take advantage of her, she did something about it and nearly quit the show.
Solo found that to be very unacceptable, and it gets worse. After she released her autobiography, Solo: A Memoir of Hope in 2012, she revealed more details. “Maks was rough and mean with me, flinging me and pushing me around. … He wanted my head in a specific position.”
A Rapper Earned The Lowest Score
In the same season that Kenny Mayne danced his way to embarrassment, Master P did the unimaginable. The rapper would earn the show’s lowest score ever in his week four paso doble dance.
He walked his way through his performance with dance partner Ashley DelGrosso, displaying little effort, if any. Judge Bruno Tonioli declared it was really bad from the start. Master P’s score for the performance, 8 out of 30, became the lowest score in the show’s history.
Injuries Have Happened Along The Way
From torn tendons to rib injuries, both contestants and dancers have proven that dancing can be challenging. Among the most memorable injuries to occur since the show debuted in 2005, three come to mind.
Former Olympian Misty May Treanor tore her Achilles tendon just weeks after winning a Gold Medal in beach volleyball. Meanwhile, Steve-O suffered a back injury. Lastly, everyone’s favorite television scientist, Bill Nye, suffered a quad injury.
One Of The Osmond Brothers Is The Oldest To Win It
Legendary entertainer Donny Osmond was 51 years old when he won the Mirrorball Trophy in the ninth season. With dance partner Kym Johnson, he was two weeks shy of his 52nd birthday when the duo won it in the spring of 2009.
Another well-known celebrity is right up there with Osmond. Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey was 50 years old when she and Derek Hough took the top prize in 2010, defeating former Disney Channel star Kyle Massey.
Double Check The Math
There are two steps to the scoring process on Dancing with the Stars. First, the judges write down their scores on a card and hand it to the show’s producers. Then, they hold up a paddle with the same score for the contestants to see.
But, sometimes it can be confusing, especially for model Nyle DiMarco and Petra Murgatroyd. Tonioli gave the duo a ten after they performed the foxtrot. Host Tom Bergeron referred to the written score handed to the judges, a 9, which is what DiMarco would receive.
A Technical Problem Prevented Phone-In Votes From Getting Tallied
Any kind of voting process can raise red flags. Those flags were raised in 2018 when fans suffered a technical issue. It prevented an entire episode’s worth of phone-in votes from getting tallied.
In the episode, skier Danielle Umstead and Dukes of Hazard actor John Schneider stood with another couple for elimination. Host Tom Bergeron revealed that the votes weren’t counted due to the mishap. That would leave the final scores to be tallied from online voting as well as the judges’ scores.
Marie Osmond Collapsed
Most celebrities have to spend hours practicing. But most of them have to learn all of those different dances from scratch. Not only is that hard on the brain but on the body as well, making it exhausting.
But, for Marie Osmond, a veteran of primetime entertainment, that hard work ended up pushing her too far. After she and partner Jonathan Roberts were eliminated on the show, she collapsed. By the time the show cut to commercial, she was already back on her feet.
The Olympian was targeted by protestors on the set of Dancing With The Stars. This all came from the 2016 Summer Olympics after the swimmer lied about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro. Lochte soon joined the competition and Sam Sotoodeh and Barzeen Soroudi weren’t having it.
While taping an episode, two men ran on stage and got in Lochte’s face. After the were separate, the swimmer told host Tom Bergeron that he felt “A little hurt.”
Fans Can Learn The Dances At Home
It wouldn’t be a surprise if fans danced in front of their TV’s while the couples strut it out on set. However, fans don’t have to just wing it — they can actually get the instructions set to them.
To help make the fans feel more included, the show has released several exercise and instructional videos for viewers who want to get in on the dancing fun. Videos include Cardio Dance, Cardio Dance for Weight Loss, and Dance off the Pounds.
There Is A Backup Celebrity For Emergencies
A lot of things can happen on reality tv. Sometimes, things can come up in the celebrities lives, and as a result, contestants often fall through. Just like stage actors have backups who know the lines in case of emergency, so the celebrities on Dancing with the Stars.
For instance, Vince Pastore from The Sopranos was doing rehearsals with Edyta Sliwinska, but had heart issues, and he couldn’t continue to compete. So, that’s when producers decided to bring on former Cheers actor John Ratzenberger.