Shenanigans! Scoring Scandal Strikes “Dancing”

Dance-floor legends joined the mix for what was supposed to be Ballroom Greats night on “Dancing With the Stars,” but by the end of the evening a new theme stole the spotlight.

Sure, Scoring Scandal night doesn’t have the same ring to it, but catchy or not, the numbers don’t lie — except when they do. It’s confusing.

The trouble started just as the show was about end. Romeo and pro partner Chelsie Hightower had just finished an oddly mismatched samba. As judge Carrie Ann Inaba would later point out, the rapper-actor bounced throughout the dance, but his bounces weren’t particularly ... well, samba-like. The set and costumes only made matters more confusing. How the fire, tiki décor, GI fatigues and pink jive-appropriate dress were meant to work together was anyone’s guess.

Despite all of the at-odds elements, the judges, including guest judge World Dance Council head Donnie Burns, seemed to agree about the routine: It just wasn’t very good.

Then it happened. The camera cut to the panel for the display of the all-important paddles, but before Burns could raise his, Inaba whispered in his ear ... while her mic was on. Whether Inaba said, “Give him an 8” or “You gave him an 8” may be up for debate, but either way, Burns held up an 8.

The vote tally on the screen, however, showed the score that Burns originally submitted when he turned in his score card before the paddle action — a 7.


No sooner had co-host Brooke Burke stumbled over the math concerning what the score was versus what it should have been than a sheepish Burns held up an amended 7, now known as the official score.

While Inaba appeared to be responsible for the wonky scoreboard action, it’s unlikely it made much of a difference overall. At best Romeo would have landed in second-to-last place rather than last place. Besides, scandal aside, Inaba can’t be blamed for all of Burns’ flubs Monday night.

Romeo’s number may have been the only one to suggest foul play, but Burns dished out a series of suspiciously out-there digits.

Kirstie Alley performed a seriously flawed jive, and the 16-time World Professional Latin champ gave her a 9.

Ralph Macchio had some slight upper-body woes in an otherwise great quickstep. According to Burns, that was good enough for a 10.

Then again, Burns wasn’t the only one with weird numbers. Bruno Tonioli was so impressed by Hines Ward’s tango that no amount of frame problems would hold back his 10 paddle.

Unfortunately for should-be front-runner Chelsea Kane, the random 10s didn’t come her way for her modern twist on the paso doble. (No worries. She landed her what-the-10 last week.) And thankfully for fans of dance, the 10s didn’t come out for Kendra Wilkinson’s take on the tango.

In the end, the scores were all over the place — except for the group cha-cha-cha scores; they were dead even — and the standings underwent another yet another shakeup. Macchio and Ward are back at the top of the leaderboard, Romeo and Alley are at the bottom (with stiff competition from Wilkinson) and Kane seems safe in the middle.

As for Tuesday night’s ballroom boot, Wilkinson’s earned her exit several times over, but somehow she remains in the game. If luck is on her side once more, Romeo can expect to waltz right out of the competition. But if he does, expect some backlash. A ballroom boot for Romeo wouldn’t look good on the heels of a scoring scandal.

Ree Hines wonders why Carrie Ann didn’t suggest tweaks to the rest of Donnie’s scores. Yowza! Follow @ReeHines on Twitter and tell her what you thought of Monday night’s Paddlegate.

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