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Dancing with the Stars...TV gold...


Emmitt Smith has the ‘Dancing’ spirit

He surprises with fleet feet, and Tucker Carlson is the new Master P

By Linda Holmes
MSNBC contributor

Updated: 1:24 p.m. CT Sept 13, 2006
There are a lot of confused people when it comes to “Dancing With The Stars” (ABC, Tuesdays/Wednesdays, 8 p.m. ET). They wonder why anyone would watch a bunch of mid-level “famous” figures waltzing with a blur of professionals you’re unlikely to have heard of unless you travel in the ballroom-acquainted circles where “American Smooth” refers to something other than Velveeta. Tuesday’s third-season premiere offered an answer in two words: Emmitt Smith.

Both of the first two seasons featured a large and apparently unlikely athlete of the “neck like a tree trunk” variety. In the first, it was Evander Holyfield. In the second, it was Jerry Rice. Evander was terrible, and Jerry went all the way to the finale, but neither of them was blessed with natural ability, though Jerry improved enormously after a lot of hard work. So what became of this season’s giant-necked athlete, Emmitt Smith? He can dance, and you’d never have guessed unless you saw him do it. That’s why people watch the show — because you never know until you see it for yourself.

Not so hidden talents
Of course, sometimes, you have a hint. To start with the celebrities who acquitted themselves the best, Mario Lopez did enough athletic and gymnastic-looking things on “Saved By The Bell” that he seemed like a likely contender. Indeed, he was probably the best technical dancer in the group. He got the highest scores by a good margin, and it doesn’t hurt that he appears to have gotten about 50 percent better-looking in the last 10 years. Shaking off the eternal mullet of his youth hasn’t hurt, but those dimples have aged delightfully.