ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
Election day is over, and voters have spoken: Hines Ward and Kym Johnson will compete next week’s one-hour finale of “Dancing With The Stars.”
The Super Bowl MVP and his partner, Kym Johnson, capped a difficult week on a high note — she suffered a strained neck last Friday during rehearsal when she landed head-first on the floor while attempting a slip through Mr. Ward’s legs.
Nonetheless, they had scored perfect judges’ scores of 30 on Monday night’s show. The suspense ended early for Mr. Ward and Ms. Johnson, who were told they’d be putting on the glitz for one more week about 10 minutes into Tuesday night’s show.
“Did the viewers reward your perfection with a place in the finals? They certainly did,” host Tom Bergeron said.
Also advancing to the May 23 finale were actress Kirstie Alley and Maksim Chmerkovskiy, plus Disney star Chelsea Kane and Mark Ballas. Ms. Kane’s team was boosted by a victory in the inaugural bonus dance Monday night, good for 15 judges’ points.
Eliminated were eternally young actor Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff, which means there will be no Karate Kid “crane” move in the finale.
Viewers could vote up to four times via telephone, text or online, making this as much a popularity contest as a dance competition. But then, that’s the essence of DWTS.
“The competition went to a whole new level,” judge Len Goodman said of the semifinals. “Everybody upped their game.”
When Season 12’s cast was first announced more than three months ago, some longtime fans groused that there were no polarizing characters, no “bad guys” to root against. But “nice” has been good; ABC productions notes this is the second-most watched season in the show’s history.
For the ninth consecutive week, WTAE audiences has made DWTS the most-watched program in the United States Monday night. It had the highest ratings among all ABC stations in Local People Meter (LPM) in key demos (households, plus adults, women and men ages 18-49 and 25-54).
Tuesday night’s two-hour extravaganza was kicked off by a “freestyle” special, as past winners and favorites were shown performing no-holds-barred dances from previous finales. Each of the current teams was asked to reveal a bit of what they’d be planning for the freestyle, should they make it to the finale.
Mr. Ward said that after years of playing football and never getting to watch the halftime show, “I AM going to be the halftime show.”
He and Ms. Johnson hinted that they’d be dancing to the Jackson 5. They’ll also repeat their quickstep routine from earlier in the season, to Stevie Wonder’s “Part-time Lover.”
Ms. Johnson also said that as choreographer for next week’s freestyle dance, she would be going long on creativity and “I’ll play it more on the safe side.”
Given the frightening nature of her injury last week, that’s understandable.
Wilkinsburg High School graduate Angela Teek, a singer and dancer, became good friends with Ms. Johnson when they were on the world tour of “Burn The Floor” several years ago. She was in the audience Monday night as Ms. Johnson’s guest.
When video of the accident was shown, “for us in the audience, it was shocking. We actually gasped,” said Ms. Teek, who said she was uncomfortable that the incident was shown again, this time in slow motion.
Injuries played a part in two of the other semifinalists’ seasons. Mr. Macchio was felled two weeks ago by a burst Baker’s cyst behind his right knee and Ms. Alley has danced through hip and leg problems.
Once their spots in the finale were secured, Ward/Johnson and Kane/Ballas talked about head-to-head competition in the “Celebriquarium” with co-host Brooke Burke.
“No more Mr. Nice Guy,” Ms. Burke said to Mr. Ward, who then looked at Mr. Ballas and said, “You’re going down.”
The Block News Alliance is composed of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Maria Sciullo is a staff writer for the Post-Gazette.: