He danced to the Max

There were a couple of jolts in tonight's "So You Think You Can Dance":

a) Max Kapitannikov, a terrific dancer, being eliminated.

b) Max even being in the bottom three in the first place.

The other part -- Ashley Valerio being dumped -- was predictable enough.  She and Kupono Aweau were saddled with a difficult hip-hop dance Wednesday, so viewers put them in the bottom three; she followed tonight with a solo that wasted too much of its 30 seconde with some posing.

But Max? No way.

I expected the bottom three to include both couples that were given difficult hip-hop routines -- Ashley and Kupono, Caitlin Kinney and Jason Glover. It did.

But I also expected it to include Phillip Cabeeb and Jeanine Mason, after he was overwhelmed by a tango. It didn't.

What happened? There was some confusion when Lil C (Christopher Toler) criticized Phillip's technique, then was corrected by the choreographer; that may have distracted attention from the fact that Phillip danced poorly in general. And the routine assigned to Max and Kayla Radonski was an elaborate story -- something about stealing a throne -- that didn't really show off the dancers.

So Max and Kayla were among the bottom three couples. She showed her usual dazzling mixture of gymnastics and dance, surviving. He turned "Footloose" into a fast frenzy, but somehow was sent home.

Here are a few of my other comments. Please add yours.

1) I loved the montage of long words used by Lil C. Still, if he knows all those, couldn't he have a name with more than four letters in it? Couldn't he at least be Little C? Or Diminutive Christopher?

2) The hair-stealer was gone and I was glad. Suddenly, we could admire the glory of Jeanine's raven hair and Cat's blonde hair; let's hope it stays that way.

3) Why bother watching Kristinia DeBarge move her lips up and down, in rough proximity to a record of her song? If she's not going to sing it, just play the record and let the others dance.

4) Evan Kasprzak had a great week. He did a wonderful, turbo-charged number with Randi Evans; then he saw a tape of his brother (also of Boomfield Hills) doing a great tap-dance number, while being advanced to the Las Vegas round in auditions for the next edition of the show, this fall.

5) Speaking of tap, the show brought someone on to do a dance style from another country. It looked like she was doing some fine things with her feet, but we couldn't see or hear her very well. This is why Americans invented tap shoes; she needs them.

6) I've seen enough of that belt-tightening commercial now. That should be it, forever.

7) I haven't, however, seen enough of "So You Think You Can Dance." This is a great season; more comments after next Wednesday's round.

8) Oh yes, and sometimes votes by viewers turn out fine. In tonight's "So You Think You Can Dance," Holly Montag (added to the show a week late, after her sister left) and Janice Dickinson were ousted. Unlike Max's departure, I didn not recoil in shock.





Canada thinks it can dance?

I'm sorry, but I'm still adjusting to the news that there's a "So You Think You Can Dance Canada."

They mentioned that tonight (Wednesday), during the American version of the show. They identified one woman as the best choreographer from "So You Think You Can Dance Canada."

Frankly, I didn't know Canada thought it could dance. I'd assumed it was like my home town in Wisconsin: We knew we could block, tackle, drink, eat, build and harvest; we assumed we couldn't dance.

What's next then? "So You Think You Can Bowl Monaco"? ... "So You Think You Can Joke Austria?" ... "So You Think You Boogie Utah"? "So You Think You Can Twang Manhattan" ... So You ...

OK, I'll drop it. Here are a few of my other comments from tonight's show; please add yours:

1) There's an inherent advantage to doing the only slow numbers during a fast-paced evening. You automatically seem graceful and poetic. Tonight, tha lucky ones were Vitolio and Asuka and Karla and Jonathan; both looked wonderful and drew high praise.

2) There's a disadvantage to doing a hip-hop routine. Tonight, two teams tried pieces by Shane Sparks. Each number was far-flung and varied, sort of the opposite of a straight-ahead romantic number; each tended to drag down its dancers -- Catilin and Jason, Kupono and Ashley.

3) Philip has a wonderfully expressive face. The problem was that during the tango, he expressed pain and dismay.

4) After all those years of ballet, Melissa probably never expected to find herself in pink tights and black bra. Still, she and Ade danced beautifully together.

5) I know states give out licenses for hair-styling. Let's remove the ones tonight for whoever did the hair for Mary Murphy and Cat Deeley and some of the dancers.

6) My prediction? Philip and Jeanine will be in the bottom three, alongside the people who tackled bip-hop -- Caitlin and Jason, Kupono and Ashley. We'll see, from 9-10 p.m. Thursday on Fox.






I think they can dance

We're only into the second week of "So You Think You Can Dance" performances ousters and things already look tough.

Last week, viewers ousted Paris Torres and the immensely charismatic Tony Bellissimo. The show continues from 8-10 p.m. Wednesdays anbd 9-10 p.m. Thursdays on Fox. Here's my interview:

For the “So You Think You Can Dance”
contestants, the problem is sheer excess. There's too much talent,
from too many people, in too many ways.

“It is insane,” said Paris Torres,
19, the first woman eliminated.

In the early years of the show, some
people were specialized, said Tony Bellissimo, 20, the first man
ousted. Not any more: “The b-boys are taking classes; the ballet
girls are doing hip-hop.”

And he's been trying everything, with
mixed results. “I have a real focus problem … I can't sit still
for more than 15 minutes, between sports and dance and plays.”

He eventually decided to stick to
dance, adding special touches. In one round of Las Vegas auditions,
he opened a briefcase to reveal a photo of judge-producer Nigel
Lythgoe. That went well, but brought a problem: “I kicked it (the
briefcase) so hard that I broke the latch.”

His next dance (also with a briefcase)
seemed doomed, until another contestant (Evan Kasprzak) came up with
a tool to open the case.

Torres and Bellissimo made the top 20
and were given a stylish hip-hop routine, with costumes that were
distinctive – maybe too much so. “They were amazing costumes, but
they constricted our movements,” Torres said.

Then again , she said, the two may have
caused their own trouble. After nailing the routine in rehearsal,
they kept re-doing it. “I think we over-rehearsed ourselves. It
just became steps to us.”


"I'm a Celebrity": jungle warfare

NBC is terribly excited that it actually has an audience for "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here." Now it's expanding the final two Mondays (June 15 and 22) to two hours apiece.

One thing that helps is the fact that the ousted contestants have nasty things to say about the survivors. That was clear Friday, the day after Daniel Baldwin was ousted by viewers. Here's a story I wrote then:

Daniel Baldwin didn't go quietly into
the night, it seems.

Sure, he seemed mellow Thursday, when
he was evicted from “I'm a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here.” He
waved a photo of his eight-month pregnant wife and their 17-month-old
daughter; he seemed happy to go.

By today (Friday), however, all
mellowness had vanished. Speaking to reporters by phone, Baldwin
lashed at:

– Janice Dickinson, the former
supermodel. He billed her as a “sociopath” who lied easily, told
rambling stories and has no future. “We're dealing with a human
being who is undereducated and overmedicated … No one is taking her
picture any more and there's only so much that plastic surgery can

– Heidi Montag, the reality star. He
argued that her religious fervor was exaggerated. When Stephen
Baldwin (Daniel's brother) baptized her, “she said, 'No, no,
Stephen, spin me this way so the camera can see me better.'”

– Spencer Pratt, her husband. His
future is limited, he said. “He's definitely got brains, (but) he's
pushed the annoying card a little too far.”

Baldwin was in a talkative mood on the
phone, repeating many things. Three times, he explained that he calls
Dickinson “C-4” because “the majority of it is plastic and it's
highly explosive.”

Producers had talked to him about being
one of the original contestants, Baldwin said. They chose Stephen
instead, with the plan of dropping Daniel in as a belated surprise.

One agreement, Baldwin said, was that
he could leave if there were complications with his wife's pregnancy.
“If you think being in the jungle was hard, just try keeping up
with a 17-month-old when you're pregnant.”

Actually, he insisted, the jungle
wasn't that difficult. There were showers, a swimming area, medical
help and food. “They were starting to do our laundry for us.”

He emerged with an admiration for Lou
Diamond Phillips and others – and with a deep dislike of Dickinson.

There were points, Baldwin said, when
she was caught in lies – about stealing food and urinating in the
middle of the camp – yet said she didn't do it. “This went beyond
denial; it was sociopathic, … this incredible detachment from the

He also said she has “name-dropping
Tourette's” – telling tales about life with famous people. “It
would be these wordy stories, with no one listening.”

– What: “I'm a Celebrity … Get Me
Out of Here”

– When: 8 p.m. Mondays through
Thursdays; began June 1 and continues through June 24

– Where: NBC

– Who: The first people voted out
were Angela Shelton and Daniel Baldwin; also deciding to leave were
Frances Callier, Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt


"True Blood," true sheriff

A new "True Blood" season begins Sunday, with Sookie having every reason to be upset at her lover Bill.

There's a flirty 17-year-old girl living in his house. People seem to die (violently) whenever Bill hears they've upset her; he might be over-reacting.

Then there's that age difference. She's in her 20s, he's 173; dating a vampire can be tricky.

She finally confronts him, late in the first hour (which debuts at 9 p.m. Sunday, then reruns at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and 10 p.m. Wednesday and Saturday on HBO). It's a great scene, well worth catching. Meanwhile, here's a story I wrote about William Sanderson, who plays the sheriff:

William Sanderson has a phrase for many
of the people he's played. They are, he says, “prairie scum.”

They are misfits and miscreants and
misanthropes. He's played them in “Coal Miner's Daughter,”
“Raggedy Man,” “Lone Wolf McQuade” and more.

Now comes “True Blood” and a
surprise – he's the voice of reason. That's a pleasant bonus,
Sanderson said. “That and getting to be clean-shaven.”

Hey, viewers like to see Sanderson with
a scruffy face and/or scruffy soul. On TV, he's been Larry (Darryl
and Darryl's brother) in “Newhart” and E.B. Farnum (“kind of a
potty-mouth”) in “Deadwood.”

But now here he is as Sheriff Bud
Dearborne. “He tries to do the right thing,” Sanderson said.

That isn't easy in this fictional
world: A synthetic blood has been created and vampires are free to
live openly. Except that they're new to rural Louisiana, where
emotions seethe.

As the second season begins, a
heartless (literally) corpse is found by a drunken deputy. For Bud,
being calm and reasonable is a challenge.

And for Sanderson, 65, life has been
full of odd twists.

He grew up in Memphis, went to the Army
and then to college, and got a law degree that he's managed to
ignore. Instead, he went to New York for serious study of acting

Then came lots of miscreants, plus the
first of his classic roles – as a toymaker used for evil purposes
in “Blade Runner,” a 1982 science-fiction film. “It was two
hours of Latex every day, (but director Ridley Scott) is a real
genius,” Sanderson said.

The other classic role came by
accident. The “Newhart” role of Larry was written with actor
Tracey Walter in mind; Walter auditioned eccentrically and Sanderson
got the job.

This is success that doesn't fit his
understated persona. Even after Larry had become a viewer favorite, a
“Newhart” producer once said, Sanderson worried about whether
he'd be back the next season.

Actors always worry about work, he
said. “There's never enough.”

He's busy for now, with “True Blood”
emerging as a hit with critics and viewers.

“All the elements are there,”
Sanderson said, “including a young and attractive cast – myself

Hey, someone has to stand between all
those angry, attractive people, trying to be the voice of reason.