News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Liz Ciancone

November 23, 2010

MS. TAKES: 'Dancing' producers have gone too far

TERRE HAUTE — Over the past few seasons, I have become addicted to a bit of television schlock called “Dancing With the Stars.” I have always enjoyed ballroom dancing. I can’t DO it, but I like to watch.

The concept is simple. A dozen or so “stars” — some of them a bit past the sell-by date — are selected and each is assigned to a professional dancer/choreographer who is to teach them the basics of a variety of dances. On show night, their performances are judged by a panel of three professional dance judges and the public is urged to phone in to support the star they most want to see continue in the competition. The prize, incidentally, is a rather garish mirrored ball trophy.

The next night the votes of the public and those of the judges are tallied and one of the dancing couples is “voted off” the show. It is usually not difficult to see rather early in the process who the best dancers are.

Last week the process was narrowed to three couples, one of which has been at the absolute bottom of the judges’ list for the past seven weeks. When the four couples were cut to three for the finals, the bottom dwellers were in the finals and one of the two couples who have consistently been at or near the top were eliminated.

The surprise finalist is none other than Bristol Palin, the teenage daughter of political aspirant Sarah Palin. I think even Bristol was surprised, although she was quoted as saying, “I’ve worked awfully hard!” They all have.

The show almost lost me a couple of seasons ago when they departed from the usual parade of music stars, athletic stars, film and televisions stars, to invite politician Tom DeLay to compete. He was, at the time, under indictment in Texas for alleged chicanery at the ballot box. For a few weeks, DeLay capered about in red, white and blue satin costumes, sometimes with stars and stripes, but he was clearly out of his element and probably should have been voted off long before a doctor’s report urged him to bow out to avoid further injury.

So, this season they gave us Bristol Palin, who began her first performance by saying she hoped she would not embarrass her mother. And, as any good mother would, Sarah was frequently on camera in the front row cheering for Bristol.

But Bristol was outclassed and should have been gone long before it became a choice between her and the star she replaced in the finalist circle.

If I want to watch politics, I’ll turn on the news. I expected to be entertained by “Dancing With the Stars.”

Shame on the producers for introducing politics into entertainment and shame on Sarah Palin for using her daughter to further her own political agenda.

This time I’m gone!

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Her column has appeared on this page for more than 20 years. Send e-mail to

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