Mario Comes Out on Top after 'Dancing’ Premiere
September 13, 2006

"Dancing with the Stars" raised the curtain on season three Tuesday night with a cha-chaing, hip-shaking Mario Lopez shaking up the crowd.

"You know, I didn’t feel anything out there," Lopez admitted. "I was kind of numb. It was all sort of surreal for me."

Lopez impressed the judges with more than his dancing Tuesday night. Judge Bruno Tonioli called Mario "the hottest Latino in town. Do you have extra batteries in your pants?" he asked.

"I was like, 'I beg your pardon,’" Mario admitted.

We, of course, knew all about our very own "Super Mario" brother, who is a frequent "Extra" guest host and correspondent. Lopez recently stopped by to introduce us to his sexy dance partner Karina Smirnoff.

"He has potential," Smirnoff told us. "I mean he's very athletic, he boxes a lot, so there are a couple of things in his posture that need a little work. But we're working so hard, it's going to be great."

But before Mario, there was Joey Lawrence, who got season three of "Dancing with the Stars" off to a killer start.

"I'm feeling good," Joey said moments after stepping off the stage. "We were first up, first show, brand new season. It’s tough."

When it comes to the ladies, Vivica A. Fox trotted her way to the top Tuesday. "You know, the grown and sexy have to represent," she said. "We’ve got to show America you can keep on dancing over 40."

Even football great Emmitt Smith was on his game, scoring the night's first standing ovation. While Emmitt has performed on the biggest stage of all the competitors, playing football in front of billions of people across the world, he admitted that Tuesday was "nerve wracking."

So who's likely to be the first to go? CNN newsman Tucker Carlson may be tuckered out.

As for Jerry Springer, his haters may now be his biggest fans. "The longer I stay on the show, they figure they’ll keep me off my other show," Springer laughed.

Judge Carrie Ann Inaba stopped by "Extra’s" set, and she told us the competition is only going to heat up. "We’re in season three and the stakes are higher," she insisted.

See which stars dance their way to victory, Tuesday and Wednesday nights on ABC.


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