Only five minutes into Party Anthem Week Monday night and Atlanta’s NeNe Leakes was grinding out a steamy salsa on the sixth episode of ABC’s ballroom reality competition “Dancing With The Stars.”
Right off the bat, Leakes and professional partner Tony Dovolani learned that they were safe from elimination tonight and first to take the floor as the show enters the season midpoint. Last week’s Cruella DeVil-themed foxtrot was praised as Leakes’ best dance to date, and earned her 36 points out of 40. But a teary NeNe couldn’t speak after the high-scoring dance, capping a week of tension with Dovolani.
Tonight’s salsa was more relaxed, and footage showed that practice was much more harmonious than the previous week. “It feels great for Tony and I to have reconciled, to have moved on,” Leakes said at rehearsal.
So she took to the ballroom Monday in a yellow fringe dress, smooched her hubby along the way down to the dance floor and put some groove and funk in her step. During a section when she was alone on the floor, Leakes sashayed with confidence as Dovolani stripped off his shirt.
“We had a little tiff, but Tony and I are very much in love,” she told co-host Erin Andrews with a smile after tonight’s salsa to Nelly’s “It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here.”
Head Judge Len Goodman said: “You cornered the market in fun and entertainment. If you want to progress, I want you to work on your technique a bit more now.”
Judge Bruno Tonioli purred: “You’re one of a kind and you can turn the heat on. I tell you … sometimes your footing was a little bit shaky, but your hips were (moving so well) it was hard to keep up.”
And Judge Carrie Ann Inaba said: “That looked like your most comfortable dance, you were grinding. It was excellent.”
Guest Judge Redfoo raved: “NeNe you looked like an entrepreneur out there because you owned that. That was hot.”
Last week, teen singer Cody Simpson was sent home from the ballroom, sparing Leakes, who was in the bottom three of the celebrity contestants. Earlier in the quest for the glitter ball trophy, endurance swimmer Diana Nyad and former professional hockey player Sean Avery were eliminated.
Tonight’s elimination of comedian and "Price is Right" host Drew Carey was based on scores from the past two weeks combined with audience support to determine who stayed, and who went home.
Leakes’ TV Background
Leakes has branched out into acting on shows like "Glee," “The Game” and “The New Normal.” She is also the author of “Never Make the Same Mistake Twice,” discussing her fractured childhood, abusive relationship and struggles with being a single mother.
Other celebrity contestants still competing include:
· Actress and former “Full House” star Candace Cameron Bure
· Heartthrob singer with Big Time Rush James Maslow
· Author and former child star of “The Wonder Years” Danica McKellar
· Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy
· Olympic gold-medal ice dancer Meryl Davis
· Olympic gold-medal ice dancer Charlie White
Tune in to “Dancing With the Stars” Monday at 8 p.m. ET on WSB Channel 2 to see the next round of eliminations.
How to Vote for NeNe
Viewers may cast their votes for their favorite teams via phone on Monday nights during and up to 60 minutes after the end of the “Dancing with the Stars” broadcast in each time zone. Online voting at www.ABC.com and on Facebook at https://apps.facebook.com/votedwts/ is open for 24 hours, beginning from the start of each episode on the East Coast at 8 p.m., ET.
Earlier DWTS coverage on Patch: