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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, INTERVIEWS & FEATURES

Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: Premiere Night!

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

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Sabrina Bryan, Dancing with the Stars

The buzzing started in the outer hallways. At CBS Television City, home to ABC's Dancing with the Stars, 12 new celebrities were about to make their grand entrances. So what if two of them are exceptional athletes (Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Helio Castroneves), four of them are as much at home on a concert stage as they are in their own living rooms (Wayne Newton, Marie Osmond, Melanie Brown, Sabrina Bryan). And one of them could buy and sell most of us without moving a muscle (Mark Cuban). The only question tonight was: Who can move?

You started hearing names. Jane Seymour. Helio. Mel B. And that little blond from Disney's Cheetah Girls, Sabrina Bryan. "I'm afraid of the men," says Bryan, moments after the show. OK, whatever. Because from the moment Bryan attacked the dance floor, the ballroom was electrified. It was as if you were watching a performance at the semi-finals, not opening night. Jennie Garth surprised with her fluidity in the cha-cha. Model Josie Maran overcame opening night jitters to dance a perfectly acceptable fox trot. But when Bryan arrived, third up, her fierce performance was nothing short of astonishing. And the crowd? On their feet. A standing ovation.

"I was just freaking out," says Bryan, who worked the press line with her exceptional pro partner, newcomer Mark Ballas (former competitive partner of fourth season champ Julianne Hough), and two of her Cheetah Girls comrades, Adrienne Bailon and Kiely Williams. Bryan says she was a wreck. "I said to Mark right before we started,

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Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: What Happens When the Cameras Stop Rolling?

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

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Jennie Garth, Dancing with the Stars

When the cameras stop rolling, the brave smiles disappear. Want to know how the dancers are really feeling about their performances on Dancing with the Stars? Watch closely for the first five minutes after the audience files out

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Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: Feeling Jane Seymour's Absence

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

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Tony Dovolani and Jane Seymour, Dancing with the Stars

Tonight it was all about the dancer who wasn't in the room. Yes, Queen Latifah dazzled the Dancing with the Stars studio audience by performing live with her killer pipes and her no-fuss, no-muss approach. There was also one big moment of surprised silence after billionaire Mark Cuban and Las Vegas showman Wayne Newton escaped the hangman's gallows while host Tom Bergeron sent the sexy and intriguing cover boy, Albert Reed, packing.

But underscoring all of that was the announcement that actress Jane Seymour was absent because her mother had passed away. Mieke Frankenberg, 92, died Monday of complications from a stroke suffered earlier this year. Seymour had been commuting back and forth from Los Angeles to England to spend time with Frankenberg, who was left without the power of speech.

Nevertheless, it was Frankenberg's influence that led Seymour to sign on Dancing's dotted line. Frankenberg loved the English version of the show, Strictly Come Dancing. In fact, she loved all kinds of dancing. When Seymour was a child, her mother enrolled her in ballet classes to help improve Seymour's fallen arches. From the age of 5 until 16, Seymour studied hard and dreamed of joining London's Royal Ballet. Injuries to her knees put a stop to that.

But 40 years later, when Seymour

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Dancing with the Stars Backstage Report: No Pain, No Gain

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

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Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani, Dancing with the Stars

Every Monday and Tuesday night, Dancing with the Stars' head costume designer stands at the back of the studio audience waiting for the show to begin. It's his reward to himself for making it through another grueling week. He needs to see his staff's original creations come to life as the stars and pros enter the ballroom down the twin twinkling staircases. Conception, design, manufacture and fitting of these highly technical dance garments all happen in the space of five short days. Major adjustments happen within hours of the show. The colors, fabrics, feathers and Swarovski crystals all have to be just right. "I have to be here," says Randall Christensen. "It's like watching my babies being born."

But on this Monday night, he's already seen something that took his breath away: Jane Seymour, in dress rehearsal, performing the tango. "She is a phenomenal professional," says Christensen, who designed her dress working in concert with Seymour's assistant. Seymour, who just lost her mother a week ago, has been away in England attending the funeral and, at the same time, somehow preparing to dance again. "She's exhausted, jet lagged and emotionally tired," says Christensen. "But when you saw that dress rehearsal? You would never know. She looked great when she was out there performing."

There was a lot of pain

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Dancing with the Stars Backstage Report: Samantha's Coming Back!

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

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Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris, Dancing with the Stars

Results night at Dancing with the Stars was chock full of comings and goings. First came word that cohost Samantha Harris would return from maternity leave next week. "She'll be here for our script meeting on Saturday," says host Tom Bergeron, who has kept in close contact with Harris. "And then she'll be back on the air Monday night."

Bergeron had predicted that Harris would be back within a month. She gave birth to a baby girl, Josselyn, on Sept. 23, the day before Dancing's fifth-season premiere. "When she starts talking about Josselyn, she gets all gushy," says Bergeron. "My girls are 19 and 17 now and I'm having a lot of 'sense' memory just talking to Samantha. I said, 'Doesn't baby head smell great?' And she said, 'You're right. Baby head is wonderful.'"

Bergeron, known for his wicked sense of humor, says he suggested to the stars backstage that it would be interesting "if they all started to cry like a baby when she's interviewing them

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, INTERVIEWS & FEATURES

Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: Curing Injuries One Step at a Time

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

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Kym Johnson and Mark Cuban, Dancing with the Stars

Everyone talks about weight loss on Dancing with the Stars (tonight at 9 pm/ET, ABC), and for good reason. If you stay in the game long enough, the long hours of practice

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Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: What Really Happened to Marie

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It was frightening to be in the Dancing with the Stars audience last night. We've seen celebrities push their way through pain and fatigue. We've seen Jennie Garth crash and burn when she landed in a heap at the end of her second-week routine. But we've never seen a star pass out and lie motionless on the ballroom floor.

Here's what you didn't see following Marie Osmond's collapse: After host Tom Bergeron cut to commercial, Osmond's brother Jimmy and her children rushed to her side. Her manager ran onto the floor, as did the paramedics. She was lying on her side, knees bent, not moving. Her partner, Jonathan Roberts, was holding her head in his hands. "Marie has so much fun all the time that I didn't know if she was pretending to fall down," he said. "But all of a sudden, I felt her whole weight going into my hands and I just freaked out. Things happened so fast. I felt her going and I thought she was goofing off. But when her head was in my hands and she was lying on the floor, I realized that her eyes were shut and she wasn't moving. There was not a muscle moving in her body. And her son and her two daughters were saying, 'Mom, Mom, wake up!' And they were taking her pulse and everyone was just freaking out because she wasn't moving."

There is no way you could know this sitting at home, but here's what had everyone scared: Osmond was down for a good 30 seconds. It seemed like 30 years. Executive producer Conrad Green was there in an instant, running into the ballroom. "When you've got a live show and one of your contestants collapses, you tend to run pretty fast," says Green. "I was obviously very concerned."

"The air just went out of the room," said cohost Samantha Harris. And, of course, the room in question was a ballroom full of 500 people, and it was deathly quiet. As you watched this circle of people around Marie, her manager fanned her with a wad of papers. You could see her knee move, slightly. And then both knees. "And then she started moving and her eyes opened," says Roberts. "And she looked around and I saw that she realized where she was and she said, 'Oh, crap. I fainted on live TV.'"

Roberts said that a million things were running through his mind. "This competition is so tough this season with these celebrities working so hard. And we had flown to Canada this week on the red-eye, and she performed two different concerts with her brothers. She'd already gone through a rough week. And she has a little bit of asthma and all the fires in Malibu affected her. She told me earlier today that she was feeling a little light-headed. And I could tell about halfway through the dance because some steps went wrong and her breathing was getting really bad."

In fact, Osmond had been experiencing breathing difficulties throughout the day. "She said she had been inhaling some of this bad, smoky air [from the wildfires]," said Harris. "And then you have a hot room, hot lights, a sexy dance and bam."

Osmond has such a goofy sense of humor that it wasn't clear at first that her collapse wasn't a pratfall. "Half of the ballroom thought she was kidding," said Harris. "And the other half didn't know what to do."

But as the seconds dragged on and Osmond didn't move, it became clear that this was no joke. Head judge Len Goodman and judge Carrie Ann Inaba looked sick. Bruno Tonioli put his face in his hands, as though he couldn't bear to think of what might be happening right in front of him. The judges stayed seated because there was already a small crowd of people around Osmond. Everyone was frightened. "I don't think it's the first time she's ever passed out," said Green. "The heat, she said, and the smoke from the fires, a lot of these things had affected her, and obviously she's just done this huge, strenuous dance. I'm not sure what her breathing issues are, but we're going to find out. We'll be talking to her doctors tomorrow. I think it was more a case of [her forgetting] to bring an inhaler with her

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Courtesy of; TV GUIDE, INTERVIEWS & FEATURES

Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: Is Jane on Her Way Out?

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

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Jane Seymour and Tony Dovolani, Dancing with the Stars

Jane Seymour's crestfallen face says it all. "Do you think they want to get rid of the old one?" she asks quietly after getting panned for her jive by the Dancing with the Stars judges. "Is that what they want to do?" She and her pro partner, Tony Dovolani, had just given the lively dance their all, hoping that high scores from the judges would protect them from landing in the bottom two again. Or worse, getting voted off the show. "We're a little bit down," says Dovolani. "We thought we did such a great dance."

This is the point in the competition

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Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: A "Recount" Is Demanded!

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

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Mark Ballas and Sabrina Bryan, Dancing with the Stars

"I think there should be a recount," says Mel B., who, like everyone else, was shocked that the Cheetah Girls' Sabrina Bryan was knocked out of the competition. Says Mel's pro partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, "It's crazy."

It was, in fact, the first time in five seasons that the audience erupted in anger over an elimination. There was loud and prolonged booing after Bryan's name was announced. "I couldn't believe it," says Helio Castroneves, who got down on the dance floor on hands and knees along with Cameron Mathison to do the "we're not worthy" bow to Bryan after the cameras stopped rolling. Everyone, it seemed, wanted to envelop Bryan in their arms to either break down in tears or tell her she was robbed: friends, stars, pros, wardrobers. "It wasn't right," says season two's Lisa Rinna, who was in the audience with her hubby, Season 3's Harry Hamlin. "It wasn't the right time for her to go. This season's all messed up."

The ballroom, still full of people, was unnaturally quiet. Bryan's parents, who've attended every performance, stood on the sidelines, seemingly in shock. Her mother held both hands up to her mouth as if she wanted to stop herself from sobbing. Bryan's splendid pro partner, Mark Ballas, looked stricken. Ballas and Bryan have become dear friends, and Ballas says he felt like he let his partner down. The two were slammed by the judges for having too hard an edge to their fox trot. "There's not one time when she didn't focus," says Ballas. "It's my job to make her the best she can be. And maybe this week I didn't do my job the best that I could...."

Bryan interrupts him. "Yes, he did. Don't even [go there]. Stop it." Ballas keeps his arms around her for every interview, protective and sweet.

"I think that putting yourself out there in front of millions of people takes a lot of guts," says Bryan, 23, a highly driven and amazingly self-possessed young woman. "And there were times when I didn't want to do it, but I did it and I feel like we had some great performances. I wouldn't change it for anything."

Does she have a message for her fans? "That it's OK," says Bryan. "And this is not the last of me. You don't win everything, but you work hard. This is just TV, it's not my life. My life now involves Mark and all the amazing people I've been around. And I've got a good family to go home to. I'm going to be Cheetahlicious."

Which was more than you could say about Jane Seymour tonight. In another Dancing with the Stars first, a celebrity was missing in action for the glamour shot of all the celebrities and their partners at the beginning of the show. Seymour's pro partner, Tony Dovolani, stood alone. Then, when the show got rolling, host Tom Bergeron announced that Seymour was suffering from food poisoning and would be out for the evening. That was on top of already feeling miserable for getting the lowest scores the previous night for their jive.

"We felt like we had failed the fans," says Dovolani, who was convinced that they would be the couple eliminated. "So then we came here today and we felt like, OK, let's go pack our bags. And then she ended up feeling a little bit ill. And safety first. Her health first. So I'm out there dancing by myself [in the group dance]. And then when I stood onstage [for the elimination announcements] and they announced our names, at first I didn't know why. I looked up and it was a white light

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Dancing with the Stars' Host Tom Bergeron Dishes Backstage Secrets!

by Michael Maloney

Monday, November 5, 2007

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Tom Bergeron and Melanie Brown, Dancing with the Stars

We haven't seen him do the rumba or the paso doble, but Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron is faster on his feet than any of the celebrity contestants on the ABC hit competition/reality program. Whether he's trading barbs with judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, chatting with cohost Samantha Harris (and her fill-in Drew Lachey), consoling a celebrity who maybe missed a step (or, heaven forbid, did a lift!), or helping a fainting Marie Osmond up to her feet, Bergeron's comedic quips and cool style earn him a perfect "30" every time. TV Guide chatted with the host about his demanding Dancing duties.

TVGuide.com: How close were you to the recent fires that plagued Los Angeles?

Bergeron: I was close enough to see fire engines, smoke, flying planes and all that. Also, I put all the [important] papers together in one place to make a fast exit if needed. Happily, it didn't come close to that.

TVGuide.com: That's about the only drama that hasn't hit Dancing this season.

Bergeron: Yeah, no kidding!

TVGuide.com: This season seems to have more energy to it. Those Tuesday-night results shows are tough because everyone remaining is vulnerable. [This interview took place before last week's shocker of Sabrina Ryan being voted off.]

Bergeron: You're right. We [the hosts, producers and judges] have all talked about that. We're all so connected to the show now. We've got the rhythm down. You can have all of that, but you need the celebrities and a level of talent. Eliminations that happen from here on in are really going to hurt.

TVGuide.com: Have you seen the show evolve from trying to get celebrities to appear to now, where they're banging the door down to be cast?

Bergeron: You're not trying to get the biggest names necessarily. It's the mix of personalities more than the marquee value that makes the show work. This season has the most diverse group yet, with a sports-team owner/billionaire/entrepreneur [Mark Cuban] to an Indy 500 race-car driver [Helio Castroneves] to staples of the show from years past

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, INTERVIEWS & FEATURES

Backstage at Dancing with the Stars: The X-Factor

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Cheryl Burke, two-time Dancing with the Stars champ, has some advice for any star who wants to take on this dance marathon: "Give up your day job!"

Her point is well taken, given the exhaustion level in evidence on Monday night. All the couples seemed frayed around the edges

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Dancing with the Stars Backstage Report: Marie's Struggle

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

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Marie Osmond and Jonathan Roberts, Dancing with the Stars

Her smile is famous the world over. And no one is quicker to laugh. But on Monday night, Marie Osmond's physical and emotional exhaustion after Dancing with the Stars finally got the better of her. The judges' tough comments seemed to take the last bit of fight out of her. "I'm whipped," she says quietly after the show.

Nevertheless, after the show Osmond and her pro partner, Jonathan Roberts, headed to a rehearsal studio to begin work on next week's two new dances. It seemed impossible

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Dancing with the Stars Backstage Report: The 10s Pour In

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

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Julianne Hough and Helio Castroneves, Dancing with the Stars

One of the greatest singers in the world says she wants to dance. On the show. As a contestant. C

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Dancing with the Stars Backstage Report: A Frustrating Finale

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

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Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough, Dancing with the Stars

It was the Dancing with the Stars night we've all been waiting for, but everything was just a little off kilter. The hallways were packed with VIPs: friends, family and stars like All My Children's Cameron Mathison, exiled weeks before he was ready to go home. "I think it's going to be Helio," says Mathison. "I've been a fan of his forever."

But like any great marathon, you could feel the strain, see the warning flags. "Julianne [Hough] has strep throat," says her mom, Marriann Nelson, outside the soundstage. "She's been feeling awful all week, but she's still dancing." Is she feeling well enough to perform tumbles and lifts for the freestyle? Her mom nods her head yes. "She just keeps going. One time, for a [ballroom] championship, she danced with shingles."

Inside, Mathison was tucked away in the audience with Jane Seymour, her husband, director James Keach, and Seymour's pro partner, Tony Dovolani. Seymour and Keach had just been through a second round of California wildfires that threatened their Malibu home on Friday and Saturday. "Only this time, I was out there with the hoses, too," says Seymour, who says they could clearly see the flames from where they were standing.

Mathison and Seymour have been practicing for Tuesday night's finale, where all the stars (except Wayne Newton, who is recovering from cardiomyopathy, a viral heart infection) will dance again. They were curious to see what Mel B., Helio Castroneves and Marie Osmond could deliver on the night they were all gunning for. "I should have become a Mormon," jokes Seymour, referring to Osmond's fan base. "It's a very big religion."

But the bad news started almost immediately. The judges weren't overly impressed with Mel B. "I was expecting a hair more excitement," says Carrie Ann Inaba about her cha-cha. And her freestyle, says Len Goodman, "didn't flow." The comments didn't get any better for Osmond. "Technically, not your best dance," says Bruno Tonioli about her samba. The explosive, joyous dancing everyone was waiting for wasn't happening. Backstage, Helio and Julianne picked up on the strange vibe and for the first time, says Hough, got really nervous. "I was so upset, because the audience was so awesome in the beginning of the show, and then the judges had such harsh criticism that it made the whole room just die. It sucked the energy out of it. And that's what screwed both of us up in the jive. Because we heard so much negative criticism that the whole energy went down and we got nervous."

But surely they've been nervous before? "I'm a professional and I got nervous," says Hough. "So I can only imagine how Helio was feeling. This is supposed to be fun, but there was so much pressure to be perfect, perfect, perfect that it was just a downer."

Donny Osmond was struck by the strange atmospherics, too. "Mel B. blew me away tonight," he says, in a surprising admission that did not single out his sister. "But she blew me away more last week. The judges put a dark cloud over this whole show. The dancers and the celebrities were all nervous. Come on, this is the finale. Give them some encouragement."

But Donny admits that the dancing didn't match the breathtaking semifinals. "Last week was better, as far as the dancing was concerned," he says. "Tonight, everybody was nervous. Everybody was tired. Just talking to Marie before the show, she said, 'I am worn out.' When Jennie [Garth] left last week, she turned to me and said, 'I want to go home. The fun has been taken out because I hurt.'"

His overall assessment? "This reality show has gone a little too far," says Osmond. "It's beyond reality and the judges are beating them up."

Which becomes clear when you see pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy struggle to get up off the floor after his freestyle with partner Mel B. "He hurt his back," says his friend Dovolani. "He's jacked up on about 50 Advil."

"I don't believe in pills," says Maks after the show. But you can see the worry in his face. "I hurt my back on Friday night when we were doing the lifts, pulling out all the stops, trying to do as much as we could do. This week, we didn't have Wednesday or Thursday night to practice because of the Spice Girls' rehearsals, so we did freestyle on Friday night and the cha-cha-cha on Saturday at, like, 11 at night. There was no warm-up. And I didn't have time to teach her how to be lifted properly, so she was kind of like a dead weight."

And the result? "On Sunday," says Maks, "I couldn't get out of bed. We had camera blocking in the morning, so I crawled over here. But we didn't do the lifts. Today, in dress rehearsals, we didn't do the lifts." They didn't practice the death-defying lift that had him swinging her around his head and then upside down, with her head nearly smashing the floor? "No," says Chmerkovskiy. "I've got to give it to Mel, this is a very risky and very difficult thing to do. And for her to trust me without going over it was great. But then on the floor, I went like this [tries to arch his back] and I got stuck. I couldn't get up. I felt really bad about that because I couldn't get up and I didn't want to take away from what Mel had done."

In fact, Chmerkovskiy has been so distracted by his injury that he didn't even realize that he and Mel got the highest score of the night. "They just told me," he says. "I wasn't paying attention." Then the emotional side of this grueling journey comes into play. "We enjoy each other's company so much," he says. "And I'm sad because it's our last Monday night together. I told her, with no cameras around, that this has been the most amazing three months of my life. And then she cried."

There was no crying for Castroneves. He was swearing a blue streak

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Courtesy of: TV GUIDE, INTERVIEWS & FEATURES

Backstage at Dancing with the Stars' Emotional Finale

by Deborah Starr Seibel

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

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Julianne Hough and Helio Castroneves, Dancing with the Stars

The finale was everything Monday night wasn't: Supercharged and electrifying, the dancers returned to dazzling form. And the fatigue, illness and injuries were forgotten.

Well, almost forgotten. Pro dancer Mark Ballas, who wowed the crowd again doing his show-stopping cha-cha-cha with the much-missed Cheetah Girl Sabrina Bryan, was whisked off to the hospital immediately after their performance. He had been in some distress for two days with a sore shoulder. "Something kind of funky was happening," says Bryan, who was anxious to join Ballas at the hospital after the show. "But he's a true competitor. And even though we weren't competing tonight, he wanted to have our last performance. He was not going to let anyone know."

But Jane Seymour knew. "He shouldn't have been dancing," she said after the show. "He's hurt himself." Mark Cuban knew, too. "His father told me that he's got a torn muscle in his shoulder, and it's really, really painful," says Cuban. "It happens to basketball players all the time and it takes a while to heal."

The worry now is that Ballas

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