Adam Taylor / ABC
Wednesday, May 21, 2014 | 12:57 p.m.
America on Tuesday night clearly wanted courageous Amy Purdy to win the disco ball trophy on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and heavily voted in favor of tattoo artist Walter Frank to grab the $100,000 prize on Spike’s “Ink Master.”
However, both Las Vegas reality TV stars were narrowly beaten in the final seconds and concluded their attempts for victories as the runners-up.
On “DWTS,” Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who choreographed new routines for Steve Wynn’s “Le Reve — The Dream” at the Wynn, won his first-ever trophy in 14 seasons with Olympic ice-dancing partner Meryl Davis.
“This is a dream come true. It might be plastic, but it means so much,” said Maks. “There’s a reason it didn’t happen before. It’s because I was meant to do it with her.”
Meryl will probably put it right alongside all the medals she’s won at the Olympics (including the gold this year in Sochi, Russia, with Charlie White), the World Championships, the Four Continents Championships, the Grand Prix Finals and the U.S. National Championships.
Ever gracious in her one-point defeat, our Cimarron-Memorial High School graduate Amy said: “What an amazing experience this entire journey was. I couldn’t be more grateful to have been given the opportunity to discover my abilities and share them with the world. I was beyond honored to be the final two alongside Meryl and Max. What an amazing journey.”
Five-time champion pro partner Derek Hough and Amy, who dazzled and wowed America with her passionate determination in overcoming all odds in Season 18, immediately flew overnight to New York along with other cast members. They appeared on “Good Morning America.”
Amy, now 34, had just started work celebrating her 19th birthday as a trainee massage therapist at the Venetian’s Canyon Ranch Spa when she was felled by bacterial meningitis. Her legs were amputated below her knees, and to save her from death’s door her father donated his kidney when hers had to be removed desperate last-minute, life-saving surgery.
Incredibly, she followed her love of snowboarding and joined the U.S. Paralympics team winning gold and bronze in New Zealand and at the recent Sochi games, respectively. Amy also appeared on Season 21 of CBS’ “The Amazing Race.”
On Monday and Tuesday, on prosthetics, she amazed the judges with two final routines, including an acknowledgement to Cirque du Soleil shows here in her hometown Las Vegas with a silks number on a 15-foot-high twirling rope. Amy also had to perform an extra routine: the team dance to Ricky Martin’s “Living La Vida Loca” from Week 7’s Latin Night that she’d missed when a rib and shoulder injury sent her off to a hospital with back-muscle spasms. She was still icing down for these finals three weeks later.
Her final dance was a cha cha/Argentine tango fusion, which she learned in less than 24 hours. Amy sobbed: “Even though this journey is ending, I’m choosing to look at it like it’s just beginning for me because I’ve learned so much.” The dance scored 30 out of 30 from the three judges, Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli.
“Your unbreakable spirit has been a lesson in life for all of us,” raved Bruno, summing up the feelings of TV viewers coast-to-coast.
Amy and Derek’s scoring total with viewer voting added from last week notched 89 out of 90, and Meryl and Maks hit 90 out of 90, giving them the one-point win with their foxtrot/cha cha fusion.
The judges even noted their “special chemistry,” which has had viewers wondering if they’d hit it off in the romance department. Carrie Ann gushed, “I think you should get married.” Maks seemed to confirm it on the behind-the-scenes video outtakes: “I want to have big ice-dancing babies with her. We are going to call them Boris and Oleg but nickname them both Bear.”
Len said that he was thrilled it was the last dance he got to see, hinting the big news that even with next season of “DWTS” already being renewed, he may not be returning to the judge’s desk. Actress Candace Cameron Bure and partner Mark Ballas placed third in the final leaderboard with 78.
The Season 18 celebrity dancers all returned to the ballroom Tuesday night, including “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” star NeNe Leakes, who showed the audience how to boogie and gave us a taste of what to expect when she returns to the Strip at the end of next month for her guest run as the sensual Mistress of Ceremonies in Cirque du Soleil’s “Zumanity” at New York-New York.
Meryl and Maks won for their dancing, yet Amy with Derek won for her courage, bravery and tenacity. She achieved her own win, her own No. 1 position and top score. She stirred America and restored faith that even when everything is stacked against you, faith and determination can make every dream come true, and the farthest of targets can be reached. What an inspiration, what a hero, what a winner.
As the judges said: “You will never be forgotten.” And I’m certain that we have not heard the last from this brave, bold and valiant young woman.
‘Ink Master’ finale
Our Club Tattoo at Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood artist Walter “Sausage” Frank “won” “Ink Master” as far as America was concerned with 77 percent of viewer voting. However, his chief competitor Scott Marshall, who drew 16 percent of viewer votes on the finale Tuesday night, received the judges’ victory decision.
It resulted in loud boos from the studio audience on the live broadcast. The finale began with a third tattoo artist, Matti Hixson. As I reported Tuesday in a Q+A with Sausage, all three had been assigned an extraordinary task of tattooing a full back piece on a human canvas in 35 hours.
His Club Tattoo boss at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile, Joey “Hollywood” Hamilton, who won last season’s “Ink Master,” was there to root him on, and he also tattooed a design during the show.
Matti, who tattooed an angel, was critiqued by judges Dave Navarro, Oliver Peck and Chris Nunez for rushing his snake curves and was eliminated. That left a showdown between Sausage and Scott.
Scott’s tattoo was of a woman holding a heart with dynamic colors. Sausage’s image by total coincidence also was of a woman — but with smeared makeup — holding her heart. The judges went looking for comparisons of flow, color and saturation.
There’s no question that it was a thrilling finale, although a disappointing result for Sausage and thousands of his fans and supporters here in Las Vegas and across America. He deserved to win; he was the gentleman of the 17 contestants. But I predict that locals and tourists will be booking him for months to come.
Spike has committed to Season 5 of “Ink Master” starting Sept. 2.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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