One judge, the always flamboyant Bruno Tonioli, described former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s debut performance on Monday night’s “Dancing with the Stars” as “bold, brash, not exactly subtle.”
That’s an apt description for the two-time presidential candidate who still isn’t done with politics, and who is determined to do his best despite long odds to help raise money for veterans and to become a better dancer in time for his daughter’s wedding in October.
The odds may have gotten even longer for Perry when each of the four judges gave him a score of 5, for a total of 20, the low score of the night. Perry sported a bolo and a sequined western-themed outfit as he did the cha-cha to “God Blessed Texas” by the band Little Texas.
The high score of the night went to Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and Indy race car driver James Hinchcliffe, who each carded a 31. Others doing well on the first night of competition included actress Marilu Henner and country singer Jana Kramer each with a 27, former NFL star Calvin Johnson and singer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds each with a 26 and rapper Vanilla Ice with a 25.
Former Olympic star Ryan Lochte, who has made as many headlines for his non-athletic escapades as he has as a swimmer, got a 24. He also was rushed on stage by a protester after his performance.
“That was fun,” Perry tweeted shortly after his performance, urging people to vote for him by calling 1-800-868-3410 or by going online at dwtsvote.abc.go.com.
Can’t wait to see how Perry does with the popular vote from viewers nationwide? Sorry — you’ll have to wait until next Monday’s show to see who gets the boot.
Until then, Perry has some high-powered help as well-known politicians from former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich to former presidential campaign foe Carly Fiorina are taking to social media to urge people to vote for him. “Did you know @GovernorPerry’s dancing to raise money for veterans?” Fiorina asked in one tweet, telling voters that a ballot for Perry means a bigger contribution to military-related charities.
Perry, who is paired with professional dancer Emma Slater, makes it clear he’s going to enjoy his experience on the high-rated program even if it doesn’t last long.
“I’ve fallen in front of 4 million people before,” he said in a video in advance of the opening performance, perhaps a nod to his “Oops” moment in the 2012 presidential campaign. “This gives me the opportunity to fall in front of 10 million people.”
Monday’s program was the debut of Season 23 of the series.
“Dancing With the Stars” premiered in June 2005 as a quick, six-week series — who knew it would become a phenomenon? Certainly not host Tom Bergeron.
“I thought it would be fun, but I didn't think it would be anything more than a summer show,” Bergeron said during an interview in Washington earlier this summer. “So I've been happy to be wrong about this one.”
Although it airs only once a week now, instead of twice, and although about 13 million people watched per week last season, instead of its heyday of 20 million in 2011, the show is an undeniable pop culture force. So it's surprising to Bergeron that even though celebrities must know the deal by now (the show is a great-but-physically-grueling career move), some participants are still naive about the process.
“It's interesting to me, given all the years we've been on, how many of them are still stunned a few weeks in about how much is required to be really competitive in terms of learning the dance steps,” said Bergeron, who co-hosts with sportscaster Erin Andrews. “And the deeper you are into the run, the more likely that you have to learn multiple dances for the competition as it gets into the quarters, semis and finals. But a lot of them are like, [high pitched voice] ‘Whaaaaat?’”
This report contains material from The Washington Post and The Dallas Morning News.
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