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Emmitt: Spared after a scare


Game face: A too-serious Emmitt keeps his sole mate.

Terrell Owens by day, Emmitt Smith by night. Change partners and dance with the one who brung ya to three victorious Super Bowls.

Stuck with the previous night's lowest score, Emmitt and partner Cheryl Burke seemingly teetered near the brink of elimination on Wednesday's Dancing with the Stars. But combined scores from judges and viewers instead sent a crestfallen Harry Hamlin home while his pro partner, Ashly DelGrosso, sobbed speechlessly. Boo hoo. Some in the crowd just booed while Hamlin's wife, previous competitor Lisa Rinna, looked suitably stunned by what host Tom Bergeron called "one of the most surprising eliminations ever."

Emmitt had been left dangling with Hamlin and Jerry Springer while six other celebs and their pro players were told they'd be back next week. Then again, Bergeron kept emphasizing that the eventual bottom two -- Hamlin and Springer -- were the only competitors that actually had the lowest overall scores. The other seven pairs were spared in "no particular order," which means Emmitt might have fared much better than appearances suggested. Still, he was made to sweat in the service of "good TV" after skating through the first two rounds.

Emmitt and Cheryl (shown doing the tango Tuesday in the above ABC photo), were roundly panned by the judges Tuesday night.

"You drop an egg...You gotta clean it up," he said in the very padded run-up to the actual verdict. Wonder what Emmitt thought of The Scissor Sisters' male lead singer, who wore an outfit that made him look like The Riddler channeling David Bowie. The show accommodated two performances by the group, plus a bunch of other unnecessary stuff.

Much, much later, or so it seemed, co-host Samantha Harris asked Emmitt, "Were you robbed?" with a measly 19 score for what in fact was an off-putting tango.

"At gunpoint," he said, smiling.

Now he'll have another chance to swing and sway the judges, although his rhetoric is still a bit robotic.

"I want my dancing experience in this competition to be just like my football career," he said -- again. "I'm going to compete to win."

Relax, guy. Try to be a more urbane Cowboy.

Hansen style

Channel 8's Dale Hansen devoted his entire 10 p.m. sportscast Tuesday to the death of legendary golfer Byron Nelson.

Hansen, an avid golfer himself, clearly put this heart into this extended tribute, which included interviews with golfers Ken Venturi, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Watson. It was a splendid sendoff that bears repeating. Nelson deserved it, and Hansen delivered in full measure. As sports journalism goes, it was an eagle on a par 5. Hansen captured the man, the athlete, the philanthropist. Well stroked.
Ed Bark

Emmitt watch: "Twinkletoes" stubs 'em


All smiles last week, will Emmitt now face the music?

ABC photo

Held to no gain and then piled on, Emmitt "Twinkletoes" Smith fell to the ground floor on Tuesday night's third episode of ABC's Dancing with the Stars

His stiff, stern, Frankenstein's monster rendition of the Tango had the show's judges in a tizzy, or whatever they get in.

"The tango did to you what no linebacker could, stopped you in your tracks," opined Judge Len Goodman.

How bad was it? Even Jerry Springer was judged Emmitt's superior. A measly score of 19 for Emmitt and partner Cheryl Burke put them in last place for the night. They had been among the hit show's top scorers in the previous two weeks.

"Emmitt, the rock is starting to crumble tonight...You didn't shine as you usually do," said judge Bruno Tonioli.

They danced to "Simply Irresistible," but simply weren't. Emmitt tried to flash some fire in his eyes while doing the tango, but instead came off as kinda menacing. The grinning, good time hoofer of previous shows looked like Robocop this time out.

Emmitt said he was a bit pooped from traveling. Besides the weekly commute from Dallas to L.A., he made a pit stop in Virginia, where his wife, Patricia, a former Miss Virginia, was hosting the state's beauty pageant.

"C'mon, Twinkletoes," Patricia said, introducing him to the pageant crowd in an opening taped segment. OK, let's give that one a rest, even if the headline for this dispatch still won't.

"Obviously we have to work harder, and we'll get it done," Emmitt said after the judges gang-tackled him.

Tuesday's top scorers were veteran actress Vivica A. Fox and High School Musical star Monique Coleman, each with 27 points. Emmitt's 19 points left him two shy of Springer, who said he wants to go home after learning the waltz next week in time for his daughter's wedding.

Wednesday night's results show will evict the contestant with the lowest combined score from judges and viewers, with each counting 50 percent.

For the first time, there's possible trouble afoot for the former Cowboys star. That's what he gets for having a Springer in his step.

What a cute baby

Unclebarky.com turned one-week old on Sunday afternoon. And look, it's already walking.

Your proprietor, the quintessential stranger in a strange land, is now semi-versed in RSS feeds, Rapid Weaver, links, hits, pasting, j-pegging and other Internet terms that mostly had escaped me in an earlier life as The Dallas Morning News' longtime TV critic. My Yoda is 20-year-old stepson Carl Morgan, who's been walking me through all of this with an amazing blend of patience and techno-savvy. Without him, I'm nowhere. So far it's been a head-spinning, brain-draining, bone-tiring, exhilarating experience.

The exhilaration comes from the many people who have emailed their support and hit on the site. Unclebarky.com had 31,038 page views in its first week in ether-land. People are telling me that's damned good, and who am I to argue with them. I've also learned that visitors have to click on those little google ads on the right hand side to generate a few pennies in revenue for Uncle B, alias Ed Bark. Consider yourself pitched.

I'm only one person, and I'm dancing as fast as I can to bring you a timely, readable mix of television news and commentary, both national and local. My feet still aren't quite under me, but it's getting better all the time. I hope you'll also read the music reviews from my son, Sam, and the dispatches from China via my daughter, Liz. We've had some still puzzling technical problems keeping their respective pages up, but they're back in view as of this writing.

So thank you most kindly for all the incredibly nice words, battle cries, suggestions and criticisms. I'll do my very best to keep your faith. And we'll be adding new wrinkles and pages to the site as it grows in small doses while hopefully growing on you.

The overall goal, though, is to keep the site simple and navigable. I think of it as more of a reporting site than a blog. So I'll be getting out and about more and more in the coming weeks and months. But please remember, I can't cover everything. It'd be nice to retain a semblance of a life while also giving my very best effort to make this site stick.

One more thing: You'll never have to pre-register or pay even the tiniest subscription fee. Unclebarky.com will always be free of that stuff.

Thank you again. You've been a great audience so far.
Ed Bark

Emmitt "Twinkletoes" Smith: Good to go again


No sweat. Emmitt Smith and partner Cheryl Burke learned one-third of the way through Wednesday's live Dancing with the Stars that they'd be flooring it again next week.

The former Dallas Cowboys great joined country singer Sara Evans and onetime teen heartthrob Joey Lawrence among the top three finishers in combined votes from viewers and the ABC hit's three judges. Emmitt, shown above on Tuesday night's show, now must endure being called "Twinkletoes" by smitten judge Carrie Ann Inaba. She's nowhere near as vacuous as American Idol's Paula Abdul, but does seem ready to jump in the sack with ol' No. 22.

"Twinkletoes continues to perform at a level that's pleasing," Emmitt said during pre-taped interviews in Dancing's opening minutes.

Voted off was former Miss USA Shanna Moakler, who's also in the throes of a divorce from former Blink 182 member Travis Barker after they co-starred in an MTV reality series last year.

Many of the celebrity dancers otherwise stepped up their games in Week 2 of the whirling, swirling glitz-fest. "I'm going to have to work a little bit harder," Emmitt told Dancing co-host Samantha Harris.

"A whole lot," Cheryl corrected him.

Lots of people are watching. Last week's season premiere of Dancing drew 20.2 million viewers nationally to rank as prime-time's most-watched show for that week. Tuesday's 2-hr. performance edition dipped a bit to 18.2 million against much tougher first-run competition on rival networks. It won the 7 to 9 p.m. slot in total viewers, but was beaten by Fox's House in the first hour among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

Next week's required dances are the tango and the jive. Whichever one he draws, "Twinkletoes" has already shown he's got sole.

Dancing with the Stars: Emmitt Watch


He's in a zone. Emmitt Smith gamely juked his way to another solid 24 score on Tuesday's Dancing with the Stars, which there's a MAN LAW against watching.

So I watched it in a dress, heavy makeup and high heels. In that guise, the ex-Dallas Cowboys hero looked like a brawny lad, even though judge Carrie Ann Inaba dubbed him "Twinkletoes" after first asking permission. Emmitt and partner Cheryl Burke (shown above on last week's show) danced the required Quick-Step to the tune of KT Tunstall's "Black House and the Cherry Tree." He wore a black tux and white bow tie, keeping his back rigidly and unnaturally vertical after lowering his shoulders all those years as the NFL's all-time leading ground-gainer. Judging from his expressions, he genuinely enjoyed himself.

Judge Len Goodman pronounced it good enough for government work.

"I don't think this was quite as good as your cha cha last week," he said. "But it was still a great performance. Well done."

The 24 score put Emmitt and Cheryl in a third-place tie for the night with Vivica A. Fox and pro instructor Nick Kosovich. The leader board is topped by -- Whoa! -- former kid star Joey Lawrence, who nailed a near-perfect 29 with partner Edyta Sliwinska. In second are High School Musical star Moniquue Coleman and Louis van Amstel. By the way, I need an Amstel Light.

Emmitt noted that "everyone has brought their A-game here tonight," although the comedy stylings of Jerry Springer and semi-injured partner Kym Johnson were strictly from a B-movie. Jerry has a Springer in his step, but not much of a spring. He's last with 19 points, but should be kept around a while for laughs. During their routine together, Kym feigned kicking him in the nuts, which you can say on the Internet. He then ended the dance with a fake collapse.

I'd vote out stiff Harry Hamlin, although cocksure C-list rocker Willa Ford ("I'm tough, I'm dirty, I'm raw") is getting more than a bit wearisome. Meanwhile, last week's opening night top dogs, Mario Lopez and Katrina Smirnoff, irked judges with their free-form, throw-out-the-book version of the Two-Step.

"This was the Quick Step gone berserk. Stop booing me. Shaddup!" brayed judge Bruno Tonioli.

(Uncle Barky insider note: I've been to a live Dancing with the Stars show. The warmup guy encourages the audience to automatically boo any negative comments from judges. So host Tom Bergeron was playing it more than a bit dumb when he said after the night's first dance, "The stars take the criticism better than the audience.")

Wednesday night's results show, in which viewers' and judges' votes are weighted 50-50, will send home another of the show's original couples. Emmitt and Cheryl look good to go to at least the Final Four. The winner gets a ridiculous-looking trophy and perhaps a chance to kiss one of Emmitt's three Super Bowl rings. But if the Cowboys legend goes all the way...well, he should brandish his Dancing with the Stars spoils at his future Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Prison Break, Episode 5: "Map 1213"


Somehow they're still pulling it off. Prison Break's second season, being filmed entirely in North Texas, continues to work as both drama and dreamscape. Monday's fifth episode, subtitled "Map 1213," depicted downtown Elm Street (with a very visible Majestic Theatre) as one of Chicago's main drags.

Cons on the lam later made their way through mockups of Las Vegas (with an obviously digitized Stratosphere hotel dropped in) and Cache County, Utah, where $5 million in buried booty is supposed to be waiting. Stern but shaky FBI agent Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner) also name-dropped a real-life North Texas city, Mesquite, while trying to map out the fugitives' game plan. He earlier picked up a new stash of whatever drug he's on, with the Dallas Arts District serving as an attractive drop-off point. Wiser heads reading this will nail down exactly where Mahone met his pusher man.

Last Monday's surprise gundown of mob boss John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare) shows that just about anyone is expendable, except of course heartthrob series star Wentworth Miller as "Snowflake" Michael Scofield. Maybe this is heresy, but I'm still waiting for a really good scene from either Mr. Miller or principal co-star Dominic Purcell, who plays his older brother, Lincoln Burrows.

For me, the two standout characters in the early going are despotic Theodore "T-Bag" Bagwell (Robert Knepper) and stray cat David "Tweener" Apolskis (Dallas native Lane Garrison). Both bring a jittery, offbeat intensity to their roles. They finally had their first 2nd season scene together Monday night, with T-Bag strong-arming the kid with his good arm.

"Get your grubby paws off me," said Tweener, also upset at having to part with his "St. Louis University" hitchhiking babe after cops blew his cover.

One preposterous sidetrip at last ended. Were we really supposed to believe that fugitive Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) blazed on a motorcycle from Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY to Vegas in less than two days? I guess it's possible, but not with a big price on your head. Where were the speed traps?

Fernando was bent on stopping his previous fiancee from getting married, but instead got ratted out in what amounted to The Graduate from bizarro world. So now he's back on his bike again, ready to rejoin fellow escapees in pursuit of a big chunk of change that now turns out to be buried under a new housing development.

There goes the neighborhood.