Tom had to step between the "DWTS" judges and mad Maks (ABC/Adam Taylor)
(Wetpaint Entertainment) — It takes two to tango... and just as many to tussle. "Dancing With the Stars" is usually one big happy family, but, like all families, the judges, stars, and pro dancers occasionally butt heads. In the case of the "DWTS" clan, quarrels can be caused by jealousy, favoritism, teaching methods, hurt feelings and, of course, heel leads in a rumba! Which means that every season, at least one in-house spat seems to end up being aired at the judges' table, in rehearsals or after the show.
Most recently, on Season 13's Broadway Week, pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy gave fans not one but two headline-making fights for the ages. Upset by judge Len Goodman's comment that he and partner Hope Solo's rumba was their worst dance so far, Maks dealt the ballroom veteran a low blow, saying that, after 50 years, maybe it was time Len got out of the business.
Later, on "Good Morning America," Maks not only said he had "nothing to apologize for," but he took a jab at fellow pro Derek Hough, hinting that Derek is always given an unfair advantage by being paired with the best partners. But Maks's fighting words were hardly the show's first. Here are five more ballroom brawls worth noting.
(1) Maksim Chmerkovskiy vs. Len Goodman and Carrie Ann Inaba, Season 11
Maks has always been known for his "tough love" teaching style. It was really put under the microscope on Season 11 with his celeb partner, Brandy Norwood.
During samba rehearsals, Maks pushed Brandy hard (to the point of bullying, in the estimation of some) going so far as to give her a little smack on the tush to get her going. The theme of their dance was "The Bodyguard," but, after the routine, Len said he was confused: "I thought, Maks, that a bodyguard would be protective and I didn't feel in that [video] or in that dance that you were protective toward your partner." The audience appeared shocked, and Maks said he didn't know what that meant. "Well, I'll tell you what that means," Len said, raising his voice. "Slapping her on the a--, giving it all this, it's not the way to train, in my opinion."
When it was her turn to speak, Carrie Ann Inaba asked Maks to walk over to her, and then she tried to spank him, saying, "You're a naughty boy with your partner!" She said she couldn't condone his behavior with Brandy, but it worked for their dance.
After the show, Maks told E! that Carrie Ann's spank move was "an absurdly disrespectful thing for her to even think of doing." Asked about the judges challenging his style, Maks said, "There's no reason to comment on my teaching methods. Their job is to assess a celebrity's dancing at that moment. I just feel the judges take it upon themselves to judge way more than they are supposed to -- and it's a shame. But it is what it is. I feel like it takes away from what the show is and [from] Brandy's experience."
(2) Michael Bolton vs. Bruno Tonioli, Season 11
Michael Bolton was literally in the doghouse during Week 2 when he and pro partner Chelsie Hightower did a jive to Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog." Michael took a risk by crawling out of a doghouse at the start of their routine -- and the judges used the move to make jokes at his expense. Len said the dance "probably needed a pooper scooper as well just to finish it off," but it was Bruno's comments that really upset Michael. "It was a doggie mess of a jive," Bruno said. "You did it all very, very, very badly. I think this is probably the worst jive in 11 seasons." The audience booed, and Len jumped in to say that was unfair and maybe Bruno should keep some comments to himself. To add further insult, Bruno gave Michael a score of 3 out of 10, an almost unheard-of low mark.
After being eliminated that week, Michael told "Good Morning America," "I was disappointed with Bruno -- to me, he let everybody down. My mom was there, she's 90, she flew down to see the show... and I just didn't expect that level of disrespect from him. I think he should apologize publicly and he should be reprimanded for it." That didn't happen. The producers defended Bruno in a statement to the press: "Bruno's role as a judge is to give his honest opinions on the quality of the dances he's judging, which is what he did in this case."
(3) David Alan Grier vs. Carrie Ann Inaba, Season 8
David Alan Grier and Carrie Ann were colleagues on "In Living Color" -- he was one of the stars; she was an original Fly Girl -- but that connection didn't help him on the show. Usually known as a fun and funny guy, David on "DWTS" showed his competitive side -- not to mention supreme disappointment in the judges' reaction to his Week 5 Viennese waltz with pro partner Kym Johnson. Bruno compared one of his mid-dance leg lifts to "a dog at a lamppost." Carrie Ann said she knew this was frustrating for David, but she figured out the problem: To her, David and Kym weren't connected in their dance and that's what made it hard for the audience to connect with them. Len had kind things to say, but the angry look on David's face showed that he hadn't moved past Bruno and Carrie Ann's comments.
After David and Kym were eliminated that week, David really let loose -- especially at Carrie Ann. "There's several people that can kiss my a--, but she's definitely the first in line," David told "Access Hollywood." "To stand up week after week and be humiliated by people who have no right to talk to me [like that]… I am proudest that I didn't climb across that table and slap the sh-- out of every one of those judges and that's my proudest accomplishment." The next day, Carrie Ann told "Access" she was shocked by David's rant. "People in the media have a responsibility to sort of set a path for the people that are watching, and I think he set a poor example for people," she said, adding that David did send her an email apology.
(4) Shannon Elizabeth & Derek Hough vs. Judges, Season 6
"DWTS's" original rumba rumble happened on Season 6 when on- and off-screen couple Shannon and Derek vented their frustrations at the judges during the Week 6 results show. Despite receiving 8s from all three judges, Shannon and Derek were confounded by the comments about Shannon's lack of hip action in her rumba. In the confessional, a tearful Shannon cried, "I did the hips! When I did the fan moves, I did the hips..." Derek was upset that the judges were commenting on their hip action when, in his opinion, the other dancers were doing much worse. "What about the heel leads happening out there? What about the heel leads, the feet coming off the floor, the horrific, demented lines people are making out there -- and you're giving them 9s and 10s? Are you kidding me?"
Derek publicly apologized afterward, saying he got caught up in the moment. The very next week, he and Shannon were eliminated, and Derek said he'd learned his lesson about lashing out.
(5) Kate Gosselin vs. Tony Dovolani, Season 10
Tony and Kate walked out on each other on the second week of Season 10 in one of the most memorable feuds in "DWTS" history. While rehearsing a jive to Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," Tony and Kate experienced (to put it mildly) communication difficulties around Tony's teaching style. Kate told the camera that Tony had said she was undermining his teaching methods, but, she commented, that's not what she was trying to do. She simply felt as though he wasn't comprehending the method by which she was most comfortable learning.
"I'm a little baffled right now," Tony said. "I've become a world champion myself. I've taught world champions. I teach teachers how to teach. I've never been questioned on my teaching ever before." Kate responded, "I apologize for that, and none of that was to be taken offensively. All it was, was the fact that I just wanted to see..." Tony broke in with "So this is my fault, right? This whole thing?" Kate continued, "You're not hearing what I'm saying, and what I'm saying is..." Tony jumped in again, "I've heard you all day."
Well, Kate reached her breaking point, telling Tony, "I'm done, I'm done today." As she started walking to another part of the studio, Tony tried to get in the last word. "I've tried everything," he said. "I've been Mr. Nice Guy. I'm done." Kate then turned around, saying, "Please don't make arguments where there's none." With that, Tony said "I quit."
Tony walked out of the studio as Kate put her head in her hands, repeating "I don't get it." A short time later, an apologetic Tony returned, telling the camera that he had overreacted and felt terrible about it: "I had a weak moment where I let it get to me. I normally don't let it get to me." By the time they were eliminated in Week 5, Kate and Tony's strained relationship had been (somewhat) healed by negative critiques and low scores: In the end, nothing bonds a "DWTS" couple quite like shared frustration with the judges.
"Dancing With the Stars" airs Mondays at 8pm ET and Tuesdays at 9pm ET on ABC.
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