He may not have topped the leaderboard on Monday night, but military veteran and former “All My Children” actor J.R. Martinez was the celebrity of the night on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Performing last — with professional partner Karina Smirnoff — the army vet was a hit with the crowd as he produced a paperboy-themed jive, showing that — just two weeks in, J.R. can really, really dance.
J.R. admitted in taped footage before he hit the ballroom that he had to put in additional effort because he felt like he wasn’t the most famous on the show, and he wanted to prove he was worthy of staying in the game.
“I’m the guy that’s least known, and I don’t have that many fans, so I feel like I have to work even harder so that I can stick around in this competition,” he said.
Whether it was the extra work, his charisma, Karina’s training, J.R.‘s natural talent, or a combination of it all, the actor brought the house to its feet with his energetic performance with Karina, which netted the pair the second spot on the leaderboard, only because two of the judges deducted points for technical reasons.
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba withheld a point for a lift, but she called their number, “fun and fabulous.” As for British judge Len Goodman, he also cut back on the points he awarded, branding Karina’s choreography more lindy hop than jive. Both gave J.R. and Karina 7 points each, while Bruno opted for an 8.
The pair’s overall score was just one point behind the top duo on the leaderboard – Ricki Lake and Derek Hough — who earned 23 points for their whimsical and thrilling jive.
Beyond Ricki and Derek, there was plenty of switching up in the rankings on Monday’s show from one week ago.
Kristin Cavallari’s Marilyn Monroe-inspired quickstep, with partner Mark Ballas, took them into second, tying J.R. and Karina’s score of 22 out of 30.
Meanwhile, Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani went from last week’s tied top spot to a four-way tie for fourth after they earned just 21 points on Monday for a jive that Carrie Ann said seemed reserved.
Also in fourth was a newly-improved Nancy Grace, with her partner, Irishman Tristan MacManus. The two earned their 21 points after letting loose on their quickstep as the talk show host’s twins cheered them on from the audience. (The television host also suffered a wardrobe malfunction, according to MSNBC, as she approached the judges’ table.)
The other two couples to earn 21 points and a tied-fourth spot on the leaderboard were model Elisabetta Canalis, with Val Chmerkovskiy, who performed the quickstep, and Rob Kardashian who tackled the jive with Cheryl Burke.
Rob admitted in a taped interview, played before he took the stage, that he was suffering from body image issues.
“To be in front of a bunch of people, knowing like, ‘Ok, I’m insecure with my weight and I say I have man-boobs jokingly, but it’s true and… With all these dancers who are in great shape, it’s just hard to be around and kind of put yourself out there like that,” he said.
On the dance floor, however, he seemed to let go, hitting the beat perfectly and throwing out some polished moves.
“It’s official: Rob Kardashian is a better dancer than Kim Kardashian,” Carrie Ann said.
And later, on Twitter, sister Kim Kardashian took notice of the compliment for her brother.
“she’s sooo right,” Kim Tweeted. “I’m so proud of you.”
Things didn’t go as well for Chaz Bono, whose knee and ankle injury cut back on some of the embellishments and speed in his quickstep with partner Lacey Schwimmer.
“There is a likeability about you, Chaz,” Bruno said as the pair earned the lowest score of the night – 17/30. “It was like watching a little Ewok dance with Princess Leia. It’s cute and it’s lovely, the problem is the quickstep has to be fast.”
Still, the activist impressed his mom, who Tweeted, “YEAH !!!! CHAZ !!!! YOU ACED IT AGAIN !!! I LOVE… MOM.”
The Leaderboard standings on Monday, September 26, were:
Ricki Lake and Derek Hough took their jive to 23/30
J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff performed the jive and earned 22/30
Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas danced the quickstep and earned 22/30
Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus performed a quickstep and earned 21/30
Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani performed the jive and earned 21/30
Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy took their quickstep to a score of 21/30
Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke performed a jive and earned 21/30
Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy performed a jive and earned 19/30
David Arquette and Kym Johnson tackled the jive and earned 18/30
Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskya performed a quickstep and earned 18/30
Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer performed a quickstep and took home 17/30