Gilles Marini got two perfect scores in the semifinals of Dancing with the Stars on Monday night — and he didn’t even take his shirt off!
The French actor, best known for his revealing role in last year’s Sex and the City movie, and his partner Cheryl Burke blew away the competition by earning a 30 for their graceful waltz and a 30 for their energetic salsa. The salsa was so inspired that it had notoriously tough judge Len Goodman saying, “I wish I had an ‘11’ paddle.”
After scoring the highest of the final four, Gilles told OK! “It feels beautiful and amazing. It’s a big struggle, but a big payoff. Cheryl has to kick my butt, otherwise I don’t function. She’s been pushing me.”
Gilles said he knew he was capable of getting perfect scores and added, “I think the judges understand how much work it is and it’s no BS with me — I’ve never danced before the show. It’s pure work and showing them respect and I think they read that.”
The cumulative second place position went to gymnast Shawn Johnson and partner Mark Ballas, who got their first perfect score this season, a 30, for their dramatic Argentine tango. The judges only gave them a 26 for their jive, however, with Carrie Ann Inaba saying the second half of the dance was weak.
But backstage, plucky Shawn was unfazed, telling OK! “I thought it was our best week yet. I thought our jive was amazing even though we didn’t get the best scores. We’ve learned not to put everything into the judging. It’s all about the votes and about how America enjoys it.”
Mark came to her defense, saying he was kind of “bummed out” that the judges said she didn’t do enough jive moves. “If you check the book syllabus, she had an American spin; she had a Pat-a-cake, a changeover from left to right. We were sweating this week to the point that we were like drowned rats!” Mark also revealed their jive caused him an embarrassing problem: “I got a wedgie. The shirt’s really tight!”
Luckily, though, Shawn and Mark did better Monday night than they did during an exhibition at the Wango Tango concert event over the weekend, as she completely forgot her dance steps. “We were performing a dance we did like four weeks ago and I have a short-term memory anyway," she said. "And we figured out I didn’t remember it ten minutes before we went on — so we decided to re-learn it and I got up there and I was like, ‘oh, my God!’ ”
Mark laughed that as he “yanked” Shawn around the floor he told her, “just smile!”
Meanwhile, ex-Bachelor star Melissa Rycroft and her partner Tony Dovolani came in third on Monday night, receiving a 28 for their quickstep and a 27 for their tango. The reality show beauty, who had been the frontrunner most of the season until she fractured her ribs two weeks ago, came in for surprisingly tough criticism from the judges. While last week Carrie Ann fawned over Melissa’s samba, on Monday night, she sternly said she saw “no joy” in the DWTS competitor’s quickstep.
But Melissa said it was tough because, “everybody brought their A game tonight.” Tony said, “After the high of our samba last week, we had to really raise the bar. To be honest with you, I didn’t even hear what the judges said.” Melissa said, “Right before we went out tonight, we set a goal for ourselves to be personally happy and satisfied with our routines because up until now, we hadn’t been. We were nervous going out there. Personally, I was really happy tonight.” Another reason for her happiness? She’s feeling great as her rib injury is about 80 percent healed.
All of the competitors Monday night were treated to a clips package from their hometowns, in which their friends and family members praised them and shared baby pictures. Melissa’s seemed a bit incomplete to OK!, however, as her Texas boyfriend Tye Strickland didn’t appear on camera. “He’s not shy, but it’s a private relationship,“ Melissa explained after the show.
About the night’s leader, she said, “I think Gilles absolutely deserved a perfect score” as Tony gave him a congratulatory pat on the bottom.
Meanwhile, cowboy Ty Murray, the surprise semifinalist of this season after besting Lil Kim last week, has shown America his resilience with partner Chelsie Hightower.
Still, he scored the lowest, getting a 25 for his Viennese waltz and 23 for his samba, which judge Bruno Tonioli said looked uncomfortably like he was walking a tightrope. After the show, the self-deprecating rodeo champ said, “We knew coming into the night that I was the fourth best dancer on the show but we just wanted to do our best. We felt we did pretty close to that. It’s hard for me to tell because after the dances, I can’t tell the difference—which one did you do better? I really have no idea.
“It’s like teaching a blind guy how to paint,” he chuckled. “Chelsie has her work cut out for her. They gave her the block of wood.”
Tune in Tuesday night to see if Ty’s fans save him again as another competitor must go home!
By Carole Glines