Gee, haven’t we danced down this road before? Bristol Palin earned the lowest score Monday but remarkably, the teen activist and her partner Mark Ballas lived to see another day on Dancing with the Stars. Who went home instead on Tuesday? Find out after the jump:
Rick Fox and Cheryl Burke earned 37 out of a total 40 points for reinterpreting Helio Castroneves’ “Banana Man” quickstep with Julianne from season 5, but it wasn’t enough to convince those oh-so-unpredictable fans to keep the tall hunk and send a lower-scoring hoofer home instead. The ex-forward from the Los Angeles Lakers became the seventh contestant to leave ABC’s top-rated show.
Not surprisingly, Fox took the rejection with grace. “I’m flooded with memories of the past few months, all the joy we’ve had through the experience, and I think, wow,” he told EW afterwards. “I’m still processing not being able to go forward, but it doesn’t take away from everything we’ve done. I’ve had an amazing time. I’ve got no regrets.”
Unlike some of his competitors, Fox said the grueling dance schedule hadn’t slowed him down. “My body about two weeks ago turned a corner and hit its stride. Would I get to a point where, like Jennifer Grey, I would be exhausted? But I just felt more energized and really in a good place.”
Fox’s health was of particular concern to his family and girlfriend, actress Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), who attended every performance of Stars. “We’re both really happy that he didn’t get injured,” Dushku told EW exclusively after Tuesday’s show. “That was one of his big fears going into this because he ruptured his tendon, which ended his career. He’s had a really healthy attitude about it, for sure. He knows it’s a show and he wanted to fight for it and bring it every week, but if it were to end, it would end. I’m sure he’s gonna be disappointed in a way, but I also know how great he felt about his performance last night. He really got to show that sweet playful side, and he went out with a bang!
“He’s really transformed,” Dushku continued. “This is a guy who never in a million years would be able to go out there every week and yet he played a different role every week. We joked that it was his Dollhouse! Every week he was a different character. He did beautifully. His family and I were just really proud of him.
His performance was so impressive Monday that fellow dancers like Grey expressed shock afterwards that he was eliminated, though her partner Derek Hough understood why fans wanted to keep someone like Palin around, instead – even with her low scores. “It doesn’t surprise me that she is still here. You root for her, you can’t help it. I think she’s more surprised than anybody else, to be honest. Her face was, `what??'”
Burke echoed Hough’s comments about Stars still being more of a popularity contest rather than a dance competition. “People relate and grow to love each personality,” said Fox’s partner. “I don’t think viewers really know how to judge dancing. If you don’t dance yourself, it’s hard to really see what’s wrong and what’s right. It’s about your packages they see beforehand and if you’re relatable. At the end of the day, people will vote for who they want to see stay in the competition.”
Speaking of those packages, Laker coach Phil Jackson appeared in one, in which he implored Fox to outlast ex-NFL quarterback Kurt Warner. Will Jackson and the team be bummed? “I think if they watched, they would be proud,” Fox said. “We didn’t in any way embarrass ourselves. And I can say this – not everyone’s a Lakers fan.”