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    Dancing On: Stars Samba and Fox-Trot for Your Love

    Holly Madison, Dancing with the Stars ABC/KELSEY MCNEAL

    Belinda Carlisle is done, but a dozen remain on Dancing With the Stars.

    Not that 12 was a sure number, either! Despite his high scores, Gilles Marini is waging a daily battle against tendinitis. Steve-O, having spent his whole professional career injuring himself and being barely recovered from a pinched nerve, is pretty much keeping it together now with string and Scotch tape. And Steve Wozniak, who almost got the boot last week, is dancing on a recently pulled hamstring and a long-fractured foot.

    And everyone, regardless of age, size or Bachelor outcome, is facing the usual challenges, like avoiding heel leads, maintaining posture and keeping their darn feet on the floor so they don't get penalized for doing lifts.

    It's a dog-eat-dog world on the dance floor, but at least they finally had equal amounts of practice time—five days. Check out how the so-called level playing field treated the contestants tonight:

    Denise Richards Über-male Maksim Chmerkovskiy went so far as to dress in drag to prep Denise for the sexy fun of the samba, knowing the actress needed to get not-so-serious in order to really excel. Unfortunately, the It's Complicated star's head got the best of her body once again, and it looked more like Tom Petty leading a dead Kim Basinger around in the "Mary Jane's Last Dance" video. "That was so flat and full of holes, it was more a waffle than a samba," went Bruno Tonioli's first metaphor of the night.
    Score: 16
    . A five-point drop from last week.

    Chuck Wicks: Forced to actually dance this week after being criticized for letting his girlfriend's hips do all the talking, Wicks apparently decided he didn't want to spend another night in the doghouse and got serious. The tuxedoed country singer matched Julianne Hough step for step, give or take some posture problems. We're not sure if that was a great fox-trot, but it sure was adorable.
    Score: 23
    . Their best yet.

    Holly Madison: Now introducing Samba Barbie. Holly gamely strutted and shimmied—no small feat, there—alongside partner Dmitry Chaplin, but their samba lacked sizzle and ultimately fell apart at the seams. Carrie Ann Inaba called it "rough to watch," while Len Goodman compared the Girls Next Door star to a match—"hot at the top, wooden at the bottom."
    Score: 17
    . Their lowest yet.

    Steve-O: The Jackass star unsurprisingly steered far clear of the sort of tricks that landed him in the E.R. last week. You couldn't help but smile during his fox-trot, considering how happy the bow-tie-sporting daredevil seemed to be back, but maybe Lacey Schwimmer shouldn't have gone so easy on him in rehearsal. A massive footwork flub really took the wind out of his sails in the dance's second half, and both Steve-O and Lacey looked on the verge of tears as they stood before the judges—who all applauded his effort but could only dole out so many points.
    Score: 15
    . Better than last week's command dress rehearsal, anyway.

    Lawrence Taylor: There's just something about watching these football players shake it samba-style. The retired linebacker pulled off his best dance yet, though he still seemed to be holding back a bit—maybe he can't quite come to terms with the graceful twist his gridiron career has taken. "There's a twinkle in your eye," Carrie Ann noted happily, while Tom Bergeron promised that Edyta Sliwinska would wear the other half of tonight's outfit next week.
    Score: 20
    . Hmph. The judges' comments indicated he was going to get better.

    DWTS, Shawn Johnson, Mark Ballas ABC/KELSEY MCNEAL

    Shawn Johnson The little gymnast is growing up before our eyes! The third time was really the charm for Shawn and Mark Ballas, who—in addition to the steps—have the chemistry thing down like nobody's business. Not that their previous two performances weren't also great, but this time the shock of "sexy Shawn" was behind us and we could focus on just how elegant these two are.
    Score: 27
    . Deservedly so.

    Gilles Marini: Well, what did you expect? Gilles was destined to dance the samba, wasn't he? Let's just say, there was no problem with hip action there. "You bring out something in Cheryl [Burke] I haven't seen in a long time," Carrie Ann said, astutely pointing out the difference between dancing with Gilles and dancing with Wayne Newton. "You came out here like a throbbing red-hot poker!" a really excited Bruno said, while Len offered this bit of simple praise: "You just made a hard dance look easy."
    Score: 27
    . Duh.

    David Alan Grier, Dancing with the Stars ABC/KELSEY MCNEAL

    David Alan Grier: It was ballroom or bust for Grier, who had to decide whether he wanted to be a showman or a real contender. But tonight he proved he can do a little of both. The In Living Color comedian fox-trotted out rhythm and flexibility—whoa, high kicks!—we hadn't yet seen, and he cut quite the rug with Kym Johnson. "Two snaps up," raved former Fly Girl Carrie Ann.
    Score: 24
    . A whopping seven-point improvement from last week.

    Steve Wozniak: Maybe it's knowing that the billionaire entrepreneur is dancing on a wounded paw or that he can't possibly be long for the Dancing world, but Steve-W was really endearing tonight. In fact, we—who are usually very impatient with this sort of "pure entertainment" shenanigan—are going to have to say the judges were a little hard on him. Yeah, it was lacking in overall quality, but it was more fun to watch than some.
    Score: 10
    . A bit of a hatchet job.

    Melissa Rycroft There she goes again on her own. The former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader (Why, what else is she famous for?) dazzled and delighted once again with tonight's fox-trot. Memo to Tony Dovolani: Carrie Ann doesn't want to see Melissa rest on her laurels—"I just want to see you challenge yourself just a little bit more," the judge said. Bruno, however, said it seems as if "the music plays from [her] body."
    Score: 27. There apparently isn't too much missing from the overall package.

    Lil' Kim We are really digging Lil' Kim in this competition. Other than some questionable facial expressions, she wore that samba like a second skin. Len criticized Derek Hough for straying from the fundamentals of samba a bit, but he made sure to praise Kim for her "bionic booty." "You are a pocket-size Venus with a supersize sex appeal!" Bruno growled.
    25. Their best yet, and Bruno offered up their first 9.

    Ty Murray, Dancing with the Stars ABC/KELSEY MCNEAL

    Ty Murray: That was a switch—it was pro Chelsie Hightower who hit a rough patch, slipping during the first few seconds of the duo's fox-trot. Like the Southern gent he is, Ty helped her right up without batting an eye, and the rest of the performance went off without a hitch. What an improvement from week one, when Jewel's hubby looked more like a timid steer that had been roped into a dancing contest. Bruno praised Chelsie for carving "a mini Fred Astaire" out of a piece of wood.
    23. Only three points higher than last week, but a world away from how they began.

    Quite the turnaround for some tonight, wasn't it? Hall and Oates and Adele will perform on Tuesday's results show, and then another celeb will hit the skids.

    Here's a rundown of tonight's leaderboard:

    Gilles and Cheryl: 27
    Melissa and Tony: 27
    Shawn and Mark: 27
    Lil' Kim and Derek: 25
    David and Kym: 24
    Chuck and Julianne: 23
    Ty and Chelsie: 23
    Lawrence and Edyta: 20
    Holly and Dmitry: 17
    Denise and Maksim: 16
    Steve-O and Lacey: 15
    Steve and Karina: 10


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