Erin Andrews' team isn't overconfident
Even after earning the third-highest score Monday night, professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy doesn't want to predict how the season will fare for him and ESPN personality Erin Andrews in the 10th season of "Dancing with the Stars."
"I don't want to jinx us. We still have a long way to go," said Chmerkovskiy, who has had seven previous partners in the show but never has won. "Erin and I are starting to click. We're having an amazing time."
Andrews and Chmerkovskiy were tied for third with a score of 21 points in the judges' voting behind singer Nicole Scherzinger and dancer Derek Hough (25) and figure skater Evan Lysacek and Anna Trebunskaya (23). Pamela Anderson and Damian Whitewood also scored 21 points.
Andrews was unavailable for an interview Tuesday because she was heading to rehearsal. She did tweet Monday night, "My feet are killing me!! But I had blast!! Yes, I need to improve on a lot of areas, but..."
The first week, the 11 couples had to dance either the Viennese Waltz for the ballroom category or the cha-cha for the Latin dance. Whoever dances Latin dance this week will dance the ballroom next week. The judges' scores, combined with public voting, will determine who gets kicked off each week, starting next Tuesday. Monday's premiere was its highest ever, with 23.9 million viewers.
"This might be our best season yet. There are no bad seeds in the group," said Chmerkovskiy, nicknamed the "Bad Boy of the Ballroom." "There is a lot of camaraderie. Everybody is friendly and supportive."
We'll see how long that lasts as the season continues.
On Monday night, the celebrities with previous dance experience (Lysacek, Andrews, Scherzinger) all fared better than those who didn't (Buzz Aldrin, Niecy Nash and Kate Gosselin). Expect Aldrin likely to be given the boot next week unless he turns it around.
But you can't say he isn't trying, for an 80-year-old former astronaut.
"In the past, you'd have the celebrity just standing there and the pro dancer would be running around. Not anymore," he said. "Everyone is getting into it."
For Andrews, she started slowly in the cha-cha and then came alive, showing some of the skills she had as a former dancer for the University of Florida basketball team. The 5-foot-10 ESPN reporter accentuated her moves by making long kicks in the air, reminding audiences of Season 2 competitor and 5-11 model Stacy Keibler.
Now it's back to training for Andrews and Chmerkovskiy.
And the playful bickering between the two.
"Our drama is kind of funny. We try to outscream each other. The producers in the back are laughing," Chmerkoskiy said. "But we did have a breakthrough recently. She actually said, 'Maksim, you know what you're doing.' I said, 'Thank you. You're right.'''
Lynn Hoppes is Senior Director for Page 2 and Commentary for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.