NBC's "Celebrity Circus" is winding down to the finale after the news this last week that supermodel and mother of two, Rachel Hunter, was to leave the NBC reality series.
Her elimination was on the heels of the week previous news of the good-natured contestant Christopher Knight bowing out over doctor’s orders due to a broken arm.
Hunter displayed her sense of humor in the act where she “tamed” a wild bull, only to be charged by a fierce little Chihuahua mix with horns attached to its head. The judges were lukewarm. "It was cute and... entertaining?" lamented judge Aurelia Cats. "I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say... It was entertaining. That was all I have to say."
Judge Louie Spence always has a great summation: "It was car crash, but I loved it."
Actor Antonio Sabato Jr., actress Stacey Dash and actor and skateboarding impresario Jason "Wee Man" Acuña are now in the race to win the competition, and each one has their core fans voting and pulling for them.
Antonio did an amazing perfect “10” performance in the flying silks; watching it during rehearsals on that Tuesday (show day for taping) I knew he was going to make a stellar comeback; his performance was mesmerizing.
Antonio has consistently attempted the most physically challenging circus apparatus, and has not always had an easy time with judge Aurelia’s comments and withering remarks.
Jason has a much more pragmatic “live and let live” approach to the circus: “I’m not worried, my life is a big goof, I didn’t come here just to compete. Everyone here is super close, and our trainers, like Vlad, he’s my brother from a different mother…when we did our hand balancing act, he was like ‘okay you are gonna shave your head too…”
Acuña continued. “Fatone and I have after parties with everyone in my dressing room, it’s cool, and we are all having a blast, along with working really hard too.”
Another fit mother of two, Stacey Dash in rehearsal is intensity times 100. She wants to win this thing badly. “I am staying focused, I am exhausted but I came here to win this, I have put so much effort and energy into this, at the expense of my family time, I just want to win it,” Dash shared.
“I’ve been honored and blessed forever to be part of this, and I am a different woman because of this experience. “
Circus’ costume designer Grainne O’Sullivan walked by us, and I asked her what the biggest challenge was in dressing Stacey for the show.
“Keeping them in (Stacey’s breasts),” she didn't miss a beat in her perfect Irish brogue.
Being on set with everyone week after week also revealed the intensely hard work of the hair and makeup department that creates the glamour for the contestants and pro trainers to dazzle on stage.
Local 706 makeup artist Melanie Mills, an Emmy nominee for her amazing work on “Dancing with the Stars,” sat down and told me all the product details she used to make the performers pop on camera.
Mills is a pretty woman herself, and a hardworking department head artist who oversees a group of talented artists, with her "second" Angela Moos, and six other professionals who prep the contestants by tanning, applying free hand body paint of their own designs, application of full face makeup and the ever-important false lashes as they coordinate with the six-member team hair department to complete the final picture for each performer. They work a long day and define the feel of the show.
I asked Melanie about the week before when Dash had a sexy aqua-colored mural painted across her eyes to complement her costuming.
“Stacey’s eye makeup was all free-hand, which is so much fun to get to be able to create this larger-than-life makeup,” Mills shared. “I’m fortunate to have Makeup Forever taking care of us for this show, their product line can handle the artistic needs for us, and the wearability is dependable, the color stays true.”
I detoured into Mills' makeup room – a veritable treasure trove of product with a shelf devoted to lashes alone, a blend of industry standard Ardell lashes and Makeup Forever’s.
A girlie-girl "candy land", I did not want to leave.
Not one square inch of free space anywhere as the artist worked at breakneck pace and intensity to get everyone camera ready.
Melanie shared some opinions when I asked about the specifics of her trade. “I usually don’t airbrush, I like to feel the makeup, use a brush and working it into the skin,” Mills revealed. "Air-brushing works for some people really well, but I prefer the old school way. For me it wears better, looks better on the skin.
“Stacey can wear any color; we did her in a Blue Peacock wood fairy mask-look the week before, and for Rachel’s look we went for a forties glamour-feel with her makeup and hair styling, the week she did the ‘bull’ taming act.
Artist Tyson Fontaine has been instrumental in helping paint the freehand murals and body art on all our celebrities and trainers, and Angela (Moos) is my right hand, she also works with me on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and I really depend on her too.”
“On this show we can pull out all the stops and work the bling fantasy factor into makeup; Swarovski crystals application and big lashes, thanks to Pros-Aide glue and Duo,” quipped Mills. “I’m in love with this show, it’s all about gorgeous colorful fantasy. I really hope the audience feels the work and dedication we all have to make some great TV moments.”
Celebrity Circus' finale broadcast will air Wednesday, July 16 at 10PM ET/PT on NBC, with the winner being crowned based on viewer votes cast.