Ali's Blog: Backstage at DWTS - abc27 WHTM

Ali's Blog: Backstage at DWTS

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HOLLYWOOD, Ca. (WHTM) - Wow!  What an incredible experience!

We arrived at CBS Studios around 2:30 p.m. Pacific time and couldn't believe the number of people who were lined up outside the gate waiting to get inside!  People camp out for HOURS -- just for a CHANCE to be in the live studio audience.

We were able to chat with a few ladies who were lucky enough to get inside.  They had waited for several hours in the hot L.A. sun and were so thrilled that their persistence paid off. People dress to the nines to get into the show and are forced to leave their cell phones at the door.  No spoilers for that Pacific coast audience!

We were then brought into the studio to give our viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the set.  It wasn't quite as big as I imagined it to be -- but it was still very glittery and very cool!  You could see the mirror ball shining in the area where the stars receive their scores.  The judges practically sit on the ballroom floor.  There are three tiers of audience seating and every seat is assigned.  The only celebrity name that I recognized on a chair was Zendaya, who did very well on the show a few seasons back.

Probably the coolest thing that we saw was when the audience started to file in.  They invited everyone onto the ballroom floor to dance.  What a way to get them pumped for the show!  Yes.. I joined in!

We also got to meet George Pennacchio of KABC-TV, who provides Daybreak viewers with a Dancing with the Stars wrap each week. He is super nice and even had a few fun surprises for Brett and James up his sleeve.  He's been covering DWTS since the very first episode, but confessed to me that he can't dance.  At all.  I danced with him.  It's true.  Love him, though!

From there my photographer and I were taken backstage to a "media watching area" where we could view the show on two closed-circuit tv's.  It was also catered, which made photographer Joe a happy man.

It was pretty cool to watch the show with members of the national media who cover DWTS on a weekly basis.  Their reactions to things that happened on the show were priceless.  You can tell who they appreciate and who they do not.  I will save that list for another time.
Charlie and Sharna danced first.  Their quickstep seemed to underwhelm some of the judges, so many of us were very surprised when they received a perfect score of 40/40.  And we learned they're safe for next week!

Danica and Val were next on the floor.  Their tango ended with her donning a huge crown.  It was a nice effect!  The judges liked it, too!  They earned a 38/40.

Meryl and Maks were up next.  Wow.  Where to start.  I really liked their rhumba, which depicted a couple fighting and making up.  And Meryl slapped Maks in the beginning of the dance.  Hard.  People backstage actually gasped!  But what really stole our breath was when guest judge Abby Lee Miller of Dance Moms told Meryl that she needed to watch her feet.  Maks responded, "I really don't care for anything she has to say."

You could hear a pin drop backstage. Yikes.  I am suddenly very interested to find out if Abby talks to us after the show.  She seemed infuriated by the remark.  Meryl and Maks got a 36/40, receiving an 8 from Abby; the lowest score of the night so far. 

Candace and Mark danced a solid foxtrot that had the judges declaring that she has found her stride.  I I like her because this doesn't come easy to her but she gives her all every week. Candace also got a 36/40.

James and Peta did a lovely waltz that received a 10 from Abby Lee.  What?  The other judges seemed very lukewarm toward the routine. They got a 36/40. Abby Lee likes her some James Maslow. Just saying.

Wow.  Amazing Amy.  I am so impressed by her right now.  Her daring tango received a loud round of applause from the media watching backstage -- and that's a tough crowd!  No surprise Amazing Amy got a perfect 40/40.  I am starting to think this might be hers to lose!

Meryl and Maks and Danica and Val started the first-ever "dance duel" with an Egyptian-inspired samba.  Not a lot of reaction backstage, except for when Maks and Val's grandma appeared.  Maks' reaction was fantastic.

Wow. Val shot right back at Abby, too.  The brothers are not a fan of the Dance Moms star.   You can tell they don't give any credence to her input.  Several of the pros have critiqued her in the past, saying she's too mean to her students.  I wonder if that is where the animosity is stemming from?  There's definitely a backstory there. Maybe I can get it later?

Their samba got a 34/40.

Charlie and Sharna and Candace and Mark danced a contemporary routine.  More cheers from backstage when Charlie and Candace did their solo routine and her feet never touched the floor.  That was incredible.  And hot.  The judges kept pointing out a mistake that Sharna made but I missed it.  They got a 38/40. 

Amy and Derek and James and Peta finished out the night.  Their fast-paced routine was so fun and I continue to be in awe of Amy.  Oh my gosh. Tony Dovolani is standing next to me as I'm writing this backstage.  I can't be THAT person and ask for a picture.  I am suddenly shy. What the heck?!?  Anyway.. they got a 39/40 and they won the "dance duel."  I must say I do think Candace and Charlie were better.  Should I tell Abby that if she comes backstage???  Just kidding!

Yep.  Not only got a pic with Tony but chatted with him for a few minutes. He was very nice.

So at the end of the night, it was down to James and Peta and Danica and Val to go home.  When Danica's name was called as the eliminated celebrity, there was complete and total shock backstage.  No one expected it to be her last dance. 

After the show, each of the teams came out to do what's called a "press line."  WHTM was situated next to GMA -- not too shabby!  As you can imagine, most of the questions centered around Maks and Val and Abby Lee Miller.    Even other professional dancers like Derek Hough had harsh words for Abby.  They are absolutely not a fan of her teaching style.  No one made any apologies for the night.  It certainly made for interesting television.

My favorite couple to interview was Charlie and Sharna.  They not only remembered me from an interview we did a few weeks ago in Hershey, but they even remembered that James Crummel and I tried to ice dance!  I'm surprised Charlie didn't try to wipe that from his brain immediately. 

Abby Lee Miller was pretty much like I expected.  She wasn't thrilled about the negative reaction to her comments.  I asked her who she thought would win the whole thing and her answer was "The Abby Lee Dance Studio."  What?  After my glazed look she relented and said either Meryl or Amy.

I got a selfie with Derek and Amy. They seemed genuinely touched when I told them how fantastic I thought they were.
I told Candace that in a Facebook "which celebrity do you look like" app -- she was my answer.  She loved it and posed for a picture with me. Mark admitted that he did the same test and got Robert DeNiro.

We're now back at the hotel and putting all of the stories together for Daybreak viewers.  Such an incredibly fun experience!  I can't wait to see what the semi-finals will bring next week. The theme is American Icons!

I think it's pretty clear that just about everyone left has a great shot at the mirror ball trophy!
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