Monday, November 13, 2006


When I was a student in Italy in 1996, my American friend and I used to say that in Italy, it was 1993. They had all mod cons, there, sure, but in certain ways, in trends, and technology, there were ever so slightly behind. Except for cell phones. In Italy, everyone there was yakking away all over town on their telefonini before they really caught on in America.

Nowadays, I've found their behind in the way of blogs, and perhaps this a good thing, but it is really beginning to affect my life in a negative way. Because I have an unsatiable desire to read about Ballando con le stelle, and I have no outlet for it. So I guess I'll start blogging about it here. I don't know where to begin. It's so good. I think about it all day long.

This is the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars. Since I've started watching it, I have forsaken the American version. Sure, the American stars are much better dancers, but the Italian version is superior in every other conceivable way.

First of all, Ballando, as it shall henceforth be called, is three and a half hours long. At least. Not because they have that much hoofing to do, but because they have to devote so much time to arguing about it that they can barely squeeze the dancing in.

What's their to argue about? Everything. Starting with the judging. The Italian judges, of which there are five, all disagree and none are afraid to call a stinker a stinker. Grades of 3 and 4 are commonplace, when on the American version an 8 is a practically a bad score.

Two of the judges are "technical" judges, one is a celebrity "president of the jury" and then there are the two best judges, who judge on style: the famous Italian director Lina Wertmuller, and I can't for the life of me figure out why she is there but she hates everyone and can hardly give a reason why, and then there this fantastic catty gay Gugliermo Mariotto, who just likes the mess with the dancers and give them horrible scores based on what he feels in his heart is wrong with their dancing. And the dancers have, from week to week, gone after him, at length, because of their scores. Which is awesome.

But there is one dancer that Mariotto always sides with, and always understand, even when her dancing is not great and her behavior off the floor, or "pista" is atrocious. She is a total trainwreck - Eva Grimaldi. I don't even know where to start with her. She is some sort of sexy actress who is past her prime and clearly insecure about it, with her plump, fish-like lips and tightly stretched eyes. She clearly thinks her legs are her best asset because she never wears a long dress, even when the dance calls for it. She does have the best outfits out of all the women though, even if they hint slightly of desperation.

So one week, the producers decide to try to incite her and the other dancers by requiring them to switch partners - and each was assigned the instructor of another. No one was happy about it, and they all carried on to a certain extent. But La Grimaldi went nuts. The producers lied to the dancers and told them this twist would last for the rest of the competition, but it was only really for one episode. Under this mistaken impression, Eva takes herself out of the competition. She quits on the spot and she runs off in tears. The drama!

One of the dancers who had already been eliminated (and that is another good thing about this show, the people who are eliminated stay in the audience and comment, and sometimes go after the dancers that are still in it) goes off after her. But she won't dance. Everyone else manages to do it, although they aren't happy about it, but she doesn't do it. And it turns out she would have been paired with Umberto Gaudino, who is 15 and the weirdest looking kid I have ever seen. He is bright orange with fake tan, and dances like a couple of rubber bands. He's very creepy. So she is clearly trying to avoid embarassment by dancing with this kid who is a third her age.

But guess what? When she finds out that this switch was just a conceit for one episode, she's back in the competition! She'll just take a zero, thanks. Welcome back, Eva. So glad that you have decided to join us. Feel free to sit out of whatever in future. It was a dirty trick on the producers' part, sure, but if you're going to go out on a ledge like that, you have to stick with your decision. And her defender in the audience even says so, and calls her on it. She shrugs. But Mariotto thinks she's fabulous. And Eva says that only women can understand her decision. Whatever that means. What does that mean? That she is faithful to her partner? She might think this Simone character with the gel-frozen curls is her boyfriend, but that ain't the case. Once in rehearsals he called her spoiled and she was so pissed that she stomped off crying, saying "uffa." So.

More later.