Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cheryl Burke's return to 'Dancing with the Stars' marred by anti-Ryan Lochte protestors

Host Tom Bergeron turned to the judges after the performance by Cheryl Burke and Ryan Lochte and just before the protestors rushed across the dance floor. The protest was not shown to the television audience.

GOOD NEWS: Cheryl Burke, the Filipina/America professional dancer, is back with Dancing With The Stars.

Bad News: She's paired with Ryan Lochte.

The bad boy of the Rio Olympics, swimmer Ryan Lochte, is Burke's partner in the popular reality show dancing competition. Lochte is trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the American public (and his sponsors) after losing millions in endorsement dollars and staining his reputation when he was found to be lying about an incident that occurred during the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

After he was done competing in his swimming events, he and a few friends went partying and apparently had a few too much to drink. When their cab stopped at a gas station, the American swimmers bashed the gas station's bathroom and were confronted by security personnel.

To cover up the incident, they concocted a story about policemen who pulled their guns as they tried to coerce money from the athletes. 

Unfortunately for the swimmers, there was a security camera that taped the entire incident. The station owner wanted the athletes to reimburse him for the vandalism they had done.

The story made headlines in the U.S. and Brazil and embarassed U.S. Olympic officials. For his lies and behavior, Lochte was barred from swimming competition for 10 months by USA Swimming. And it apparently angered a lot of people who haven't forgotten or forgiven  Lochte for his inappropriate behavior.

As Burke and Lochte completed their performance on this season's premiere, a pair of protestors rushed the judges' table. They wore anti-Lochte T-shirts.

The protestors were quickly tackled by the show's security personnel and escorted off the dance floor and arrested. Several women in the audience wearing the same anti-Lochte T-shirts were also escorted out of the studio.

"Our purpose is to get the message out that Lochte is a coward, a liar and under Brazilian law, a criminal," Sam Satoodeh told ABC News after being released from jail on Tuesday, September 13.

The second man, Barzeen Soroudi, added: “[Lochte] embarrassed Americans on the world's stage, and this was our form of protesting against that."

Burke, 32, released a statement afterwards.

"Thank you to everyone for your concern. I'm still trying to process everything that happened last night. My heart is aching for Ryan and his family. No one deserves that sort of behavior directed at them."

She continued, "We all need to love each other and not be bullies or cowards. Let's all just be positive for each other. My heartfelt thanks goes out to the security team at Dancing with the Stars. Love you all, Xoxo Cheryl."

Lochte also spoke to E! News about the frightening moment. "It's hard. I'm getting over it though," he said, adding, "It honestly feels like someone reached inside, took out my heart out and just stepped on it."

"Before everything happened last night, Ryan and I were on such a high from our foxtrot," added Burke. "He nailed it and I was proud of him. I could tell he was proud as well." 

Lochte continued, "It was really hard, but I turned to Cheryl and she looked at me and smiled and said, 'You just danced in front of millions!' So I'm going to move forward and keep dancing."

Lochte released this statement yesterday (Sept. 14):

Burke's return to the show that made her famous came after being a mainstay for 18 seasons. She took a year off.

"I felt a bit like a robot just repeating the same task with a different partner every six months. So when season 19 ended, I was turning 30 and ready to see what else was out there for me," Burke explained on her blog.

"I got the opportunity to do I Can Do That! on NBC and was fortunate enough create and direct my own live stage show, Love on the Floor, which opened in Japan. I had such an amazing time learning new skills and dances and really thinking outside the box, said Burke, whose mother is a Filipina."

"So, now I'm so excited to bring back all that new life experience to DWTS. In a way, it feels like I'm doing the show for the first time. I'm excited again – and I'm ready to go out there and give it my best shot."

Whether or not the pair can win over America's fickle television audience remains to be seen. The PR-savvy Burke, who has won the coveted Mirror Ball twice before, may milk the protest for sympathy. She told People magazine, that Lochte "did injure his ankle a little when the protester got tackled, so we'll have to see how our first rehearsal goes."

The California-raised Burke also stuck up for her partner to DWTS host Tom Bergeron."He’s an amazing guy. He’s great, he’s kind and he’s just here working his butt off and trying to do what he’s supposed to be doing, which is dancing," she said. "So I hope people give him a chance."

A humbled and penitent Lochte said DWTS was "my second chance and I don't want to blow it."

Lochte's biggest competition will most likely come from another Olympian, gold-medal winning gymnast Laurie Hernandez.

Here's Burke's and Lochte's segment from Dancing With The Stars, Monday (Sept. 12):

Viewers can watch Dancing With The Stars on ABC Monday, 8 p.m. EST/7 p.m. central. Viewers can vote by phone or vote online, either at or on the Facebook Canvas Page. You have to be 18-years old and in the U.S. or Puerto Rico to vote online … sorry, tweens and international fans!