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'Dancing With the Stars': A salute to Mark Cuban

October 24, 2007 |  8:35 am

If there was any surprise last night when Mark Cuban was voted off “Dancing With the Stars,” it was that it happened this late in the game. He was one of the weakest dancers in the group, yet he managed to make it nearly halfway through the season.

There are two possible explanations why, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. No. 1 is that he used his zillions of dollars to pay people to vote for him to stay on the show. No. 2 is that he simply charmed the audience. Cuban, despite his wealth and sometimes outspoken nature, proved to be classier, more determined and tough on himself than so many other famously wealthy people (which may be why he and Donald Trump don’t seem to get along).

He didn’t have to, but he really wanted to do well on DWTS, and his hard work obviously paid off, especially since his natural ability and experience were nil compared with the remaining contestants. His physical dedication was evident in the 30 pounds he took off in the experience, but his mental commitment was evident as well, as he beat himself up during every rehearsal and discussed with his partner, Kym Johnson, what would best show off their strengths.

So it seemed fitting that he got a standing ovation from the judges and audience last night when he left. DWTS has been spicing up its results show lately, but as the season progresses, the predictable formula has been in effect. Now that Cuban has been eliminated, the more middling dancers like Jennie Garth will be dropped, until we’ll mostly likely see Spice Girl Mel B and Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan in the finals. The dancing will probably intensify, but it will be missing a little something without the wild card Cuban keeping the results shows unpredictable.

-- Claire Zulkey