Actor Gary Busey, whose dance execution has been panned even as fans have cheered his determination and quirky post-dance comments, was tonight voted off ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
After an obvious struggle with his debut routine, judges said the Oscar-nominated actor had shown improvement and diligence in learning his material. Even though he had remained at or near the bottom of the leaderboard in the four weeks of the Season 21 competition, the ballroom audience appeared to appreciate his performances and his unpredictable, humorous and deeply contemplative answers to questions posed by show co-host Erin Andrews.
Based on their performances from the previous two weeks, Busey and Carlos PenaVega were both in jeopardy of going home tonight, but Busey had the lowest combined total of viewers’ votes and judges’ scores.
He had more of his trademark comments when Andrews asked for his reaction upon being eliminated. He called his participation a beautiful experience, saying that with pro partner, Anna Trebunskaya, he had learned “things I had in myself that I could emphasize on and better with and from and in and this has been a beautiful experience.”
He added: “The fact that I’ve been eliminated is false because my spirt with Anna’s partnership will remain in this room throughout the show, so you won’t see us dancing but we’ll be there.”
His comment drew laughter from his fellow competitors and their partners.
Reality TV star Kim Zolciak-Biermann was forced to withdraw from the competition last week after suffering a mini-stroke that put her in the hospital for three days. Doctors advised her not to fly to Los Angeles for the Sept. 28 show. The show’s rules state that in the event of a health-related matter affecting a participant’s ability to participate, the contestant must withdraw.
The 37-year-old “Don’t Be Tardy” star has since said she feels better. She started a petition asking that she and pro partner Tony Dovolani be allowed to return to the competition.
Singer Chaka Khan and Triple Crown champion jockey Victor Espinoza have previously been eliminated.
Ten competitors and their pro partners tonight each had to perform one routine commemorating their most memorable year.
Alfonso Ribeiro, the show’s season 19 mirror ball champion and the new host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” filled in as guest host tonight alongside Andrews. Regular co-host Tom Bergeron was absent to be with his ailing father.
Tonight’s top scorer: Bindi Irwin earned 28 points for her heartfelt contemporary routine to commemorate her late father, Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin, who died in a freak accident in 2006. Hough said the routine took her breath away. Tonioli told Irwin that her father was dancing with her every step of the way tonight. Inaba said the routine was well done. “Every time I watch you dance I feel like I’m watching the way you live your life,” she said. Irwin’s routine earned the highest score of the night.
Tonight’s standout moment: Singer Nick Carter brought a thrilling throwback moment to the show tonight when he performed a crowd-pleasing jazz routine to “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” one of the hits from his iconic boy band The Backstreet Boys, and the judges were all for it. “That is what I call a mega sexy, mega hit,” Tonioli said. Hough said she would keep her critique really short, dubbing the performance “hot, hot, hot.” Inaba was equally impressed. “Nick, you know, you were really good when you were with the Backstreet Boys but you are far superior now,” she said. Carter earned three 9s for a total of 27 out of a possible 30 points. His score landed him in a three-way tie for second place alongside Hayes Grier and Tamar Braxton.
Bindi Irwin and Derek Hough: 28
Tamar Braxton and Val Chmerkovskiy: 27
Hayes Grier and Emma Slater: 27
Nick Carter and Sharna Burgess: 27
Carlos PenaVega and Witney Carson: 25
Alek Skarlatos and Lindsay Arnold: 24
Andy Grammer and Allison Holker: 23
Alexa PenaVega and Mark Ballas: 21
Paula Deen and Louis Van Amstel: 18
Gary Busey and Anna Trebunskaya: 16 (They were voted off tonight).