"Dancing with the Stars": Gladys Knight pipped in dance duel

Gladys Knight Eliminated on April 24, 2012. Occupation: Singer Partner: Tristan MacManus AP Photo/ABC

Gladys Knight and Tristan MacManus perform on "Dancing with the Stars" in Los Angeles on April 23, 2012.
AP/ABC

(CBS News) Perhaps the midnight train had already been at the station for a while. The tracks of her tears had been laid and were waiting for the train to move. Yet it was still sad to say goodbye to Gladys Knight, as she was pipped in the dreaded dance duel on "Dancing with the Stars."

First, though, we had the intimate post mortems from the night before.

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We learned that William Levy had no idea that the word "raunchy" meant too sexy. Yes, the most heart-throbbingly hunky individual left on the show had no idea that judge Len Goodman had accused him of excessive sexiness the night before. This is surely an affront worthy of a pistol duel for a proud Cuban man.

Maksim Chemerkovskiy was merely relieved that Melissa Gilbert hadn't sustained a concussion. He was slightly less relieved when he discovered that she might not have the chance to sustain any more concussions. While Jaleel White and Levy were told they were safe, Gilbert and, oddly, Maria Menounos were told they were in jeopardy. The crowd had assumed that Menounos would be safe, so everyone began to cheer.

"I don't think you heard the 'in jeopardy' part before you were cheering," said host Tom Bergeron, the show's Socrates. When Gilbert was also told she might be in trouble, and the crows booed, Bergeron mused: "Now THAT's an appropriate in jeopardy response."

For those who were born within the last seven days or had just arrived from Pluto, the jeopardy thing meant absolutely nothing at this stage. This was mere, um, showbusinessship on the part of the producers. Would they be in the dance duel? Or wouldn't they? You just had to watch.

Natasha Bedingfield and Boys II Men (who have quite definitely now reached the "Men" phase) tried to add some mellifluousness to the proceedings. We soon returned to friction, though, when we were shown the remaining stars and professionals offering their spontaneous and bemused comments with respect to the judges' asinine criticism of Roshon Fegan. "Bizarre," offered the insistently polite Kym Johnson. The translation from the Australian might have been: "Vindictive old morons."

And so the remaining four stood to hear their verdicts. Katherine Jenkins was told she was safe, while Knight was jeopardy-bound. Donald Driver was also returning. Fegan, though, was again told he was in trouble.

After a few more commercials and more moody portentous music, Gilbert was told she was fine, while Knight was to duel. Menounos was also told that a broken heart would not be added to her already broken bones. So it was Fegan who would have to dance off to survive.

His continued denigration comes less from any perceived dance inability, but from no perceived fan following. It seems that none who might adore him on Disney dare to tune into this older person's entertainment show.

Fegan had done very well the previous night. He had even tried to keep his teeny ego in check. His partner, Chelsie Hightower, was clearly miffed that she would again have to bare her midriff in the quest for survival. Actually, she was more than clearly miffed. She was openly annoyed, a little scowly and looked like she was ready for a dust-up. Still, the chances for her and Fegan were good, because the dance duel would be a jive.

Knight's clever partner Tristan McManus had been careful always to slow the pace of dances for her. He would not have chosen the jive as her life-saver.

The judges had large notebooks open, as if they needed at least two pages to write down their feelings. Perhaps they have very large writing.

You'd think that - given that this was Motown week and so many old songs had been turned into waltzes, foxtrots and sambas - the producers would have managed to find one more Motown hit. Instead, Knight, Fegan and their partners were forced to jive to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now."

In truth, neither performed too well. Knight was clearly tired. Fegan, on the other hand, was so desperate to expunge energy that the music seemed to bear little relevance to the timing of his movements.

Carrie Ann Inaba declared it was tough. Len Goodman thought they handled the pressure. Bruno Tonioli claimed Knight had made it look easy. However, he thought Fegan had sold it. He dared to mention "Sophie's Choice." Somehow, I think that Sophie would have dealt just fine with this one.

Inaba, tears welling deep in her expressive eyeballs, said she would save Knight. Goodman and Tonioli were more sanguine.

"I am just so amazed at this journey," said Knight.

"I will probably miss Gladys as much as I miss Ireland when I'm here," mused McManus. "And I really, really miss Ireland."

Though she was entirely classy, Knight did offer, not sour grapes, but a little bitter pip after the show.

"We are not naive, we know the game and we know what kind of ballpark we are operating in and all those things," she told Entertainment Weekly.

Yes, on "Dancing with the Stars," it's all in the game. And next week, the game is classical music. Which should mean that everyone will be jiving, right?

  • Chris Matyszczyk

    Chris has been a multi award-winning executive creative director with some of the most celebrated advertising agencies in the world. His creative work has been recognized at the Cannes Advertising Festival, the New York Festivals, Clio, the One Show, as well as many other festivals around the world. His writing has appeared in such publications as the Financial Times, the European, the Sacramento Bee and The Singapore Press Holdings Group.

    He currently advises major global companies about content creation and marketing, through his company Howard Raucous LLC.

    He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world.

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