“Not at all because we don’t know either,” the judge told “Extra” when asked (watch above). “There is this moment of, ‘OK, what’s going on?’ Ultimately, we make our decision based on who the bottom two are. We were waiting as well as anyone else. ‘Hold on, there’s three people here. What is going on?'”
Tyra Banks had incorrectly declared Monica Aldama and Val Chmerkovskiy as safe when they were in fact in the bottom two along with Anne Heche and Keo Motsepe. The error was realized when she announced the wrong bottom two from the cards she was given while three couples were still on the stage. “Dancing” executive producer and showrunner Andrew Llinares has said the mishap was due to a “technical issue” as votes were being calculated.
The judges unanimously voted to eliminate Heche — Tonioli did not have to vote since it was already 2-0 but said he would’ve saved Aldama — but some fans have felt that the “Cheer” coach garnered extra sympathy for being put through that uncomfortable situation. Tonioli says he only considered their season-long performances so far. Aldama had scored higher than Heche for three of the four weeks, including Monday night, when Heche posted her highest score, a 21, after opening up about getting blackballed in the industry after she went public with her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres.
“[Heche] did better than she had ever done, but I think at the end of the day, Monica, based on the season so far, has been better,” Tonioli explained. “For us, that is the hardest moment, and it’s going to get more and more difficult. But at the end of the day, it’s a competition. I admire Anne enormously and I’ve said it live. I’ve said, ‘Everyone should have the courage to do what you did.'”
Tonioli also defended Banks again, attributing the flub to the hazards of live television. “The votes come in at the last minute and there is such a small difference within the numbers. And that’s why they say, ‘People, vote!’ But it happens. It does happen,” he said “Tyra handled it beautifully.”
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