'DWTS': Karina Smirnoff calls Bruno Tonioli 'rude'


Image Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC

Is it time for someone to tell Bruno Tonioli that he was hired to be a judge on Dancing with the Stars and not an Italian provocateur? A sexy salsa that was performed Monday by Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff –who wore a tight-fitting, leopard-skin catsuit for the routine — inspired Tonioli to say “you were too rough with your pussy, darling.”  The comment not only generated boos from the audience but prompted ABC to bleep out the p-word for the west coast feed.

Smirnoff responded by briefly turning her back to Tonioli, who seemed genuinely stunned by the audience reaction. He ended up giving the duo an 8 for their salsa (which earned 23 out of 30 points).

“We’ve never expected the judges to be on our side,” Smirnoff told reporters after the show. “They’ve haven’t been on our side for most of the season, but it was just inappropriate and rude and uncalled for.”

“That was just an unprofessional thing to do,” continued Macchio. “I thought the performances were great. We had a couple of days and I nursed my injury at the start of the week. We made a choice. I’ve seen this show do it a thousand times. We were shaking it and having fun and letting it out there and we went a little bigger than life because I’ve seen bigger than life work so well. We always choose elegance, reserve, classy. This was a chance to just break out and be funny. They bought it with lots of others but they didn’t buy it with us for whatever the reason.”

Smirnoff thought Tonioli’s comments were personal. “We followed what they told us,” she said. “We actually delivered a salsa that the judges had been asking us the whole time. I honestly, truly think it’s personal because there’s no reason it had happened the way it did. We worked our butts off and we truly rely on our fans. We love dancing together. We love going to the studio and this is like the anti-climatic moment of the whole thing which kind of sucks but at the end of the day, we have the most beautiful memories, the most fun memories to share and that’s what we thrive on.”

This certainly isn’t the first time that Tonioli has put his foot in his mouth — nor will it be his last. Earlier this season, for example, he compared Chris Jericho to a “lump of granite.” He also accused Kendra Wilkinson of having “killer boobs.”

And who could forget last season when he said Michael Bolton’s jive was probably the worst in history? At the time, the producers defended Tonioli by saying “while we respect the feelings of our celebrities and our dancers, we don’t feel Bruno should be expected to apologize for doing his job.”

For more on the judges:

DWTS eliminated contestant: ‘Judges were harsh’

Comments (245 total) Add your comment
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  • Jamal

    Bruno Tonioli has P***y envy.

    • Elle

      Awesome. You made me laugh which is more than I can say for Bruno’s tasteless joke.

      • Perry mason

        I am a fat ugly lawyer and I am out of a job. I am seeking self loathing, hideous, toothless women (or lori) to give me some relief from my miserable life. Bathing optional (PIMB:)

      • Bebe

        LOL@Perry Mason!! I think Bruno has always been over the top and rude. He should be reprimended.

      • Mellissa

        Mellissa likes Perry Mason/PIMB’s comment. Of course, when Pasha is your boyfriend, why look anywhere else?

      • sm

        she called him classy right after… didn’t she just do playboy? because that’s the epitome of class right there.

      • spr808

        She said “classic”, not classy.

      • Aunt Sassy

        No, the person with “pu$$y envy” is Mark Ballas

    • Carla

      That was waaay funnier than Bruno’s joke. He needs to dial it waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back.

      • JT

        Producers, if you fired him none of us would mind. Really.

      • Idle

        First couple of seasons he had the occasional out of his seat crazy comment. Now whenever he’s about to open his mouth the stars and the professionals start to lean back with wary expressions on their faces.

      • Mitzi

        Staple his trousers to the chair.

  • Jon

    The comment seems uncalled for, but isn’t this exactly what Tonioli and Goodman do?

    Is there any surprise to this?

    Their shtick since the very beginning is obnoxious innuendo and crass double entendre. Nobody should be surprised by this, especially someone actually on the show.

    Anyone with a problem with comments needs to make their opinion known. For viewers, that means not watching the show that encourages this type of behavior. For employees of the show, that means figuring out whether freedom from this harassment is worth leaving the show. Until the network decides the dancers ad “stars” are more important than the judges and the faux controversy they engender, nothing will change.

    • TorontoTom

      Bruno’s comments, Kym’s injury….it’s all just part of the publicity spin machine to keep the show in the news and to keep the ratings up.

      • Jenks

        Yeah, I’m sure Kim meant to fall on her neck that way. Do you even watch this show?

      • Bebe

        @TT, what an idiotic thing to say!!to think that Kym would actually wanted to get hurt for ratings is moronic!!!

      • Rick Woods

        TorontoTom did not mean that Kym wanted to get hurt or staged it, but DWTS uses everything they can to keep their name in the news to get ratings and people to watch the show. Everytime one of the dancers or stars is sick, it is a huge deal and they go off right away to the hospital and of course its almost caught on film! Derek with the stomach flu, Maria fainting, etc.. The producers use this to hook us into watching the next show. Another thing, most of you are hating Bruno for what he said last night, but trust me on this one, the producers are stoked out of their mind that they have this publicity. Bruno will not be fired or talked too or anything. He may make an apology on the next show and that again will create more publicity with the apology.

    • Rush

      Was this any worse than June Cleaver’s “Ward, I think you’ve been a little hard on the beaver.”

  • heather

    i’ve said it so many times this season that hubby just points to me when bruno starts talking: that man is CREEPY.

    • eric

      Bruno knows what he’s looking for as a judge, but he’s WAY too flamboyant.

  • Aggie

    The comment went to far and Karina has a right to be offended. I’m not sure I get why she and Ralph are equating that with their scores. The offensive remark had nothing to do with their low scores.

    • Jem Ho

      Agreed, to me those seem to be two separate issues. The scores may have been personal, I don’t know. But the comment was just Bruno’s failed attempt at being funny or shocking or I don’t know what. Like Jon said in comments above, the innuendo/double entendre stuff has always been there. But Bruno takes it too far. He needs to learn to reel it in a bit, it’s getting to be too much.

    • ust sayin

      That would be the fault of the columnist and not Karina. And Bruno tries too hard to be outrageous and ewnds up being lame. I barely watch anymore. Carrieann is a shrew who tries to act all sexed up. Points are awarded for reasons other than dance. Sigh. So over it.

    • Denise

      I think the judges were too hard on Karina and Ralph last night. They gave almost perfect scores to Hines and Chelsie and they didn’t deserve them on either dance. They were really hard on the other dancers – I think it’s clear they want chelsie and hines in the finals while trying to sacrifice the real talent in Kirstie and Ralph. You could tell that just by the comments that were made. the “hotter” dancers in the cha cha were the ones that won and moved on. This is the reason I stopped watching American Idol… the favorites get pushed and the others go to hell

      • Francesca

        They were afraid that Chelsea and obnoxious Mark were loosing steam so they invented the 15 point CHA CHA……. so the JUDGES COULD RIG their win—it was planned in advance…….PATHETIC and their dance was not new—it was a repeat……….I just wish everyone realized it last night BEFORE they voted so they would not vote for Mark and Chelsea…It will be hard and impossible for anyone else to make up the 15 point deficet UNLESS no one votes for Mark and Chelsea next week…………….SO lets see who the JUDGES SCREWED tongiht by their voting

      • Beth in MI

        Sorry but Chelsea and Hines are much better dancers than Ralph and Kirstie and I gave all my votes to Chelsea last night because she is the best dancer.

      • Kathy

        I agree. The judges have favored Hines all season. Carrie Ann gushes over him every week. All the judges are. He is no better or smoother than Ralph. When Ralph was hurt they penalized him for not having enough practice time but they did not penalize Hines for the big change in his route for lack of practice time. The judges are making Ralph the underdog and Americans love an underdog. They are creating a revolution and just don’t get it.

  • C. Robinson

    Bruno hit a new low. I think I have had enough of this show.

    • Lori R

      Me too.

    • Eliz

      Same here. I will not watch that show again until Bruno has been removed.

  • Cindy

    I am so appalled that Bruno would say such a thing and to give a low score for such a good performance that they have been asking them for is just wrong to shame on you judges

  • LouAnn

    Bruno you hit below the belt you need to tell Karina that you are sorry for saying such rude things and beg for her forgiveness wow what a low blow for you wow!

    • michellerobert

      I am frustrated watching b/c everything Kirstie Alley does is praised – even her many mishaps. She can barely get through a routine and everytime they show her in practice she is acting like a total drama queen. Also, it was so obvious they did the winner take all cha=cha to make sure Mark and Chelsea didn’t get voted off. With Tom going on about how some of the best dancers were sent home b/c of votes. Well if America doesnt want to see them dance then we send them home. In the end, it is about entertainment value – not really dancing talent. Maybe I am just bitter b/c i am so tired of Mark Ballas.

      • Ann

        Agreed. Ralph and Hines are the only real people left.

      • Lori

        Agree! Ralph and Karina have been a Class Act since day one. I have nothing against Kirstie, I find her entertaining to watch dance but she is no Ralph on the dance floor. Man, I hope Ralph makes it through tonight.

      • Julie

        Me too! I don’t think Ralph is better than Hines (well, sometimes he is) or Chelsea, but he’s definitely better than Kirstie. But unfortunately, I think he’s going home tonight.

      • Cindy

        I agree Ralph is better that Kirstie. She is just a drama queen. I don’t see how Maks has put up with her

      • Sally in Chicago


      • Tay

        I’ve never seen what the judges see in Kirstie. I’m surprised she’s lasted this long.

      • J

        Kirsty brings in ratings…that is the only reason why they inflate her scores and NEVER critique her awful talentless dancing!

      • RaRa

        Thank you, J, that was an improvement. You expressed your opinion without being a toad. I disagreed with it, but it wasn’t offensive, for once!

      • Lori R

        I feel the same way. Is this called the “Mark Ballas Show”? It’s so tiresome. Kirstie is always off balance with Maks yet they go on and on about how great she is. After Bruno’s comment last night, I’m ready to stop watching.

  • Javadude54

    Maybe Bruno chowed down a couple of bad wieners before the show and it threw him off his game.

  • Will

    She was after all dressed like a cat.

    • Kat

      Seriously. I’m sure he intended it as a hilarious double entendre, and I think he probably forgets sometimes that US television is different from and more restrictive that European TV…but at the end of the day, she was in leopard print and he made a joke using a synonym for cat. I don’t see how it was really that bad; certainly not some sort of personal affront. And I don’t know what she means about the judges not being on their side; the judges have LOVED them. Not last week, not tonight…but honestly, they’re the weakest couple left. I love Ralph, but it’s his time.

      • HillyBean

        The rather crass remarks Bruno also made in the same critique about Ralph wearing an extra large diaper seemed pretty personal. The judges haven’t given them much constructive criticism at all since about week 2.

      • Alison

        I agree. I think he probably forgets that some words are off-limits in our censored broadcasts. It’s not the end of the world. People need to get off their soapbox and remember he was referring to a CAT. Lame.

      • Bebe

        @Kat, I know what you’re saying, but when you mix words like pu$$y and rough together, it isn’t pretty for a family show!

      • MrsVega1

        I understand that Karina was in a leopard suite…but did he have to go overboard with the p**** thing? He could have added “cat” to the end of that, and made the comment a little less revolting and offensive.

      • Klynn

        I don’t buy the “difference between US and European TV” argument. Karina (not US) knew what it meant and was insulted, Len (not US) was shocked too. Bruno knew what he was saying, I’m pretty sure that slang has reached across the pond.

      • Kat

        As I said, I think Bruno intended it to be a double entendre – he knows what it’s slang for. I’m aware of that. But I think he didn’t realize it would be taken so seriously; I have a feeling that it wouldn’t be such a big deal on Strictly Come Dancing. And I just don’t see why it’s insulting. He’s called Maks a gigolo and everybody laughed. He says all kinds of ridiculous things and people laugh. I’m just completely confused as to why this one is apparently a huge insult. I honestly thought was he said was funny. I mean, I enjoy a dirty sense of humor, and DWTS has ALWAYS had a dirty sense of humor. (Which is why I don’t buy the “this is a family show” argument…it’s always been a really raunchy, PG-13 kind of show.)

      • Kat

        That said, I do understand why some people are upset, because it was definitely a crude thing to say and I know some people don’t like it when DWTS gets too raunchy. I think that’s a fair complaint, even if I don’t share it. I guess my main problem is the fact that this comment is being portrayed as some major insult to Karina. I don’t get that at all.

      • ew-bot

        @Kat: seconding your comments, 100%, just not that bad. Not classy, true, but in character, and no worse jokes than usual. I do like it better when Bruno mixes up the tone of his comments more. He’s gotten a bit one-track of late, and might benefit from the challenge of staying seated.

    • Sue

      Perhaps they shouldn’t dress the pros/stars in such provocative fashions. Also, Karina should talk … didn’t she just pose for Playboy? She’s certainly not a shy, demure young thing that she’d like everyone to believe.

      • Lah Tee Dah

        Does it really matter what she does on her personal time? At what point do we excuse his prime time vulgarity for her personal choices?
        It was rude, uncalled for and there shouldn’t be anyone making excuses for him last night.
        I love him…most of the time. He is over the top & that’s what makes him hilarious. Last night?! Major foul!!
        My daughter and I were watching and thank goodness he was bleeped! Imagine the shock of parents in the audience WITH their kids?

      • MrsVega1

        Just because she posed for Playboy, doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t make comments made to her as a professional Ballroom Dancer less likely to hurt….lets stay on topic here Sue, DWTS and Playboy…2 seperate things….and furthermore it’s disheartening when things like that are said right in front of their celebrity dancer….kinda makes them look bad too!

      • whatevs

        While nothing excuses that offensive garbage that Bruno spews, I am surprised Karina was that offended. While posing for Playboy is separate, it’s still subjecting yourself to be leered at by creepy men. She knows that kind of stuff is being said about her all the time.

    • naynay

      Thank you!

  • o

    wth? I can’t believe he said that

  • Deb

    Can we just stop being shocked by every little insignificant pop culture provocation? Seriously, who cares if Bruno used an edgy double entendre? It was a joke that fits in with his usual over-the-top, inappropriate jokes. That’s why Bruno is funny. This isn’t a big deal so let’s just take it as a joke rather than some sign of the death of morality or whatever some useless advocacy group eventually characterizes it as.

    • Marianna

      One, Bruno is not funny. Two, it may not herald the death of morality but it was still offensive. Three, regardless the fact Karina already put it all out there for everyone to see in Playboy in any other workplace remarks that Bruno has made himself famous for would be considered sexual harrassment. And finally, people watch for the dancing not the judge’s remarks. In the overall scheme of things, even if they do account for 50% of the score, they are the least important part of the equation.

      • J

        Well, that least important part of the equation is doing everything it can to keep that 230lb load (Kirsty) in the show even though she is as bad as Chloris Leachman

      • Ralph

        Oh I disagree. She put it all on display including a near cameltoe for that dance. It was a pretty tacky dress. Sluttier than even what that Chelsea wears regularly for the show.

    • JulieB

      Deb, I totally agree. Bruno is the only thing still funny and fresh about the show. People gotta lighten up. It’s a glitzy dance show with sexy costumes every dance–not a court of law.

      • D

        Or a funeral parlor!

    • caroline

      I think there should be more important things for us to be outraged about.

    • Garry

      I think Bruno was just caught up in the moment. But Americans are basically prudes, and those in charge of what we see on network TV are DEFINITELY prudes–either that or they’re so afraid of offending a handful of viewrs and/or special interest groups that might protest.Classic shows like “All In The Family” and “NYPD Blue” wouldn’t even get on the air today. We need to lighten up and not get so easily offended by a random comment.

    • Francesca

      This show is also watched by young kids who are trying to be inspired by dancing….Brunos comment was cheap and out of line…All he wants is attention and he is getting more narciscistic each week-The show is NOT about him…

      • Beth in MI

        My daughter has no idea what Bruno said was a bad thing. The only way a child would know that it was slang/bad word is if the adult in the room overreacted.

      • Anya

        Yep, I was watching the show with my 10 year old cousin, she thought that he was just talking about her cat suit and didn’t understand the double entendre at all.

    • Hali

      Exactly Deb. I really don’t know why regular watchers and the celebs especially are making such a big deal about this.

  • Carol

    Bruno is a pig. He is really bad this season with his comments and sometimes Len is really mean. This year has been showing some bad behavior on the judges side. Karina has almost always looked trashy and it’s a shame because Ralph is trying so hard and her choreography has never really been that good. i do feel sorry for Ralph. Shame on Bruno and ABC

    • Gina

      I agree. Somehow Karina equates sexy with raunchy and skanky. I loved seeing Ralph have fun and go for it but I wondered how different things would be for him if he had another partner. If they make it to to the finals I hope she comea up with more creative rhemes than, “hey, they wanr sexier? Then i’ll be a prostitute and you my pimp and we’ll simulate sex! on another note, for their tango, they spent a quarter of the 2 minute dance walking around the pole.

    • Jenks

      I also agree on both counts. I hit the mute button as soon as Bruno speaks. I realize this is just a dance show and all, but enough is enough with the crass comments. It’s just not funny. And someone really should take Karina aside and suggest she tone it down. Maybe she can take a note from Kym, who always looks sensational.

    • Gabbie

      Edyta was the Queen of raunch and skank. Every dance was about her and not her partner. Karina is nothing like that.

  • lori c.

    I’m reading this article and is upsetting me. I love watching Ralpy Macchio perform. He is a mature dancer, who puts his heart into every routine. It upsets me to hear the producers back up Bruno’s remarks. That’s exactly what they are “RUDE REMARKS” That is NOT his job. His job is to critic the dance. His mouth moves faster than his brain, and that will eventually get him into trouble.

    • J

      Ralph’s biggest crime, and the reason he was a target last night, is because he is not that 230lb load that Max is lugging around, who cannot dance, but gets ratings. They have to target him at this point, to Keep that fat slob around.

      • Sue

        You are very rude! I give Kirstie all the credit in the world. She works hard and it has paid off. She certainly can dance and she’s a wonderful entertainer! Ralph is also a great entertainer and I enjoy his dancing, too. Neither one may be the best dancer, but one may end up being the favorite.

      • Jeff

        Kirstie has lost so much weight fuding this show! You should be ashamed

      • RaRa

        @J – And I’m sure you are an Adonis yourself. Tool.

      • Kat

        Get over yourself and open your eyes. She is a good dancer. Not the best, but a good performer. What have you done lately?

  • Bobs Yeruncle

    I was watching the live, Eastcoast feed and it was censored out for me as well.

    I have noticed that every week if nothing sensational happens with the performances (someone falling, fainting, etc.) that the PR machine picks something to keep the show in the news. It’s quite crafty PR-wise. If it was censored for me with the live East feed and for the delayed West feed, did *anybody* at home hear it?

    • Kat

      Yes, I’m on the east coast as well and the word was bleeped out. But I don’t think it was a planned moment to generate headlines; they had Kym’s injury to deal with on the show (as opposed to in news articles like those that appeared over the weekend) and Hines’ post-dance tears for that. That was a pretty big moment.

      • Madge

        Superbly illnumiating data here, thanks!

    • J

      What they do to keep ratings is to completely ignore the fact that the 230lb load that Max is lugging around cannot dance and is awful…but lets keep giving her 9’s because she didn’t fall!

      • Kate

        How many times are you going to say the same thing? It’s getting old now J! Okay, we get it, you think Kirstie is a 230lb load – now let’s see you get out there & dance in front of 20 million people. do you have a perfect body that you can be so critical????

  • Barack Palin

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much. This is coming from a woman who has just posed nude for Playboy. I love Bruno’s double entendres. If you can’t stand the heat don’t dress like a cat.

    • Katja

      LOL. I have to agree. I love Ralph and I even like Karina this season, but I just think people are taking it too seriously, considering her leopard print catsuit and the fact that she was crawling on all fours. Dude made a double entendre. That’s what Bruno DOES. It may have been crude, sure, but I don’t think it was really rude.

      • caryn c

        Agree! Icky double entendre but geez, I can’t imagine being *offended* by it.

    • D

      Any relation to Bristol?

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