Dog Days: Laila Ali has been dancing with Maksim Chmerkovskiy for two months, but she still has trouble pronouncing his name. And that's okay with him. "I tell everybody, as long as you know what I'm about, you don't have to say my [last] name. I'll just be Maks, the most popular pet name in the country," Chmerkovskiy said with a shrug. "Seriously, there are more dogs and cats and parrots with the name Max than any other name." Ali feels her partner's pain. "So many people come up to me and say 'I named my dog after you,' " Ali she said. "They're like, 'I have a boxer dog and I named it Laila after you.' I was like 'cool.' "
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Super Mario: He was a fan favorite last season, but on Monday night Mario Lopez's return to the dance floor was more subdued. Lopez and his mother Elvia came out to support his love Karina Smirnoff. So what was it like for last season's runner-up to not participate? "It was hard! It's uncomfortable sitting in that chair," he said. "It's much more fun when you're out there dancing. I feel sorry for my mom having to sit in those chairs last year." Lopez said he's not jealous that Smirnoff has partnered with another fan favorite, Billy Ray Cyrus. "She's definitely got her hands full! I think we're a little different, but he's hanging in there."
Wardrobe Malfunction? Carrie Ann Inaba may not wear a satin dress to the show again any time soon. Just as she was getting ready to score Apolo Ohno and Julianne Hough's fox trot, she dropped her paddle. "My dress is so slippery. My paddle just slipped down my dress and then it went under Len," said Inaba, who dove under the table, retrieved the No. 9 paddle and regained composure before the cameras focused on her. "It wasn't my most glamorous moment," she said.
Excuse Me? Learning two dances was taxing on the competing couples this week. To combat the stress, Ian Ziering and Cheryl Burke had a belching contest. "We drank too much Diet Coke one day and we burped it all up," Burke confessed. "We rated each other," said Ziering. "I got a 10," Burke said proudly. Said Ziering: "Let me tell you, the girl's got skills. We were rolling on the floor laughing. Who knew we would have so much fun burping?"
Ouch: Sure, Joey Fatone made his fox trot and jive routines look effortless. But in reality, he says, "I'm hurting. My back, the feet are sore. I think a beverage or two might help numb the pain." Fatone was quick to note that when he zinged Ian Ziering during the show (he'd quipped: "If you become too serious, you become Ian Ziering"), "It was all in fun. Seriously. He could probably kick my butt. He's pretty strong." There were no hard feelings by show's end. Ziering and Fatone man-hugged it out, loudly slapping each other's backs and smiles from ear to ear.
Hard Hitting? Did Len Goodman steep his tea a bit too long this afternoon? He inexplicably criticized Apolo Ohno's and Joey Fatone's respective fox trots, provoking outrage from the audience and fellow judges. Did the two celebrity dancers hold grudges? Nope, not at all. "We strive for perfection. That's my business," Ohno said. As for Fatone, no 'tude in a top hat. As he walked off stage he tapped his cap with his cane, smiled at Goodman and turned on his heels dramatically. Judge Bruno Tonioli was not as nice about their disagreement over Fatone's score. "Do you have a hammer?" he asked the audience as Fatone walked off.
Snack Attack: The one-hour, 45-minute telecast was a bit taxing on the dancers. To keep their energy up, Apolo Ohno and Julianne Hough needed a sugar fix. "I had some Hot Tamales and sour gummy worms," Hough confessed. "Oh man, candy is so bad for you. But it's so good," Ohno said, admitting that even though they're not part of his speed-skating training regimen, "peanut M&Ms do the trick for me. I can kill a three-pound bag in 20 minutes."
Underdressed: In a special segment, judges Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman were introduced to the audience at the beginning of the show in boxer shorts with their regular formal looks on the top. They gamely took their seats with no explanation. They then disappeared, and when they came back, we can confirm that they were indeed wearing pants. A producer explained to the audience that it was a segment for a later episode.
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