Mel B, Helio & Marie Head For The ‘Dancing’ Finals
First Published: November 25, 2007 6:31 PM EST Credit: ABC
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Brassy Marie Osmond, sultry Melanie Brown and revved-up Helio Castroneves will face the music once more Monday as “Dancing with the Stars” wraps another winning season.
How hot is the contest that sends grade-B celebrities whirling across the floor into the arms of patient dance pros? So scorching that A-lister Celine Dion, who performs on Tuesday’s results show, longs to do more than sing for it.
“I hope they invite me to dance. I’d love to,” Dion said last week after taping her appearance, which includes a production number built around her signature song, “My Heart Will Go On.” She’s a “tremendous fan” of the show, she said.
“They have the body, and they dance like all of us would like,” she said, her eyes wide with enthusiasm for the hoofers, who include Jonathan Roberts, paired with Osmond; Brown’s partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy; and Julianne Hough, dancing with Indy 500 champion Castroneves.
Whether the finale can top last May’s matchup remains to be seen: Nearly 23 million viewers saw Olympic speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno best ‘N Sync crooner Joey Fatone and boxer Laila Ali, who was voted off midway through the final episode.
This time, the third-place contestant will be announced at the start of Tuesday’s show, and the remaining pairs will perform two last dances, which will help determine the winner.
The ABC show averaged about 20 million weekly viewers for each of its twice-weekly episodes in the 2006-07 season, eclipsed only by Fox powerhouse “American Idol.” “Dancing” is still on its toes, with nearly 22 million viewers making it last week’s No. 1 show.
Judge Bruno Tonioli, whose ebullience is a “Dancing” highlight, said he sees the contest’s appeal as more than muscled-and-faux-tanned-skin deep.
“It’s a very honest show,” he said in an interview. Contestants “really have to put their heart and soul in it. They can’t get away with publicity and spin. The public will see something very, very real.”
Host Tom Bergeron agreed. “It’s a feel-good show unfolding in real time in front of you,” as well as a throwback to the popular variety shows of the past, he said.
“Dancing with the Stars” ups the kitsch factor for the finale, with a slew of glittering disco balls and gold-tinged decor that’s a match for the wonderfully cheesy mirrored-ball trophy awarded to the winner.
Viewers got an extra splash of sexiness in this edition of “Dancing,” courtesy of Brown, a.k.a. Scary Spice, and partner Chmerkovskiy. Last week, she took to the dance floor with her voluptuous figure clad in a skintight costume and whip in hand.
The prop “came from my personal stash,” she joked during rehearsal. “I’m a complete dominatrix in my spare time.”
Chmerkovskiy made no apologies for their bold style.
“Yeah, we took out a whip — so what?” he said after last Monday’s show. “We just bring energy; maybe it’s a different kind of energy. If I were Marie’s partner, I would never make her do the same thing I did with Mel. I’m playing to her personality.”
But even family-friendly Osmond got mildly risque in a mambo last week. Part of her skirt was playfully ripped off by partner Roberts, exposing more than a bit of Osmond’s leg, and she returned the favor by grabbing at his tear-away sleeves.
The skimpy costumes, a staple of the show, give pause to 93-year-old fan Julia Boes, who attended last week’s performance.
The Pasadena resident said that when her sister toured in the 1930s with the “Pretty Babies Revue,” dancers “couldn’t go out on the stage like they do now, with just a little bra.”
As for the dancing itself, “we didn’t do like they do today, wiggle around and all that stuff,” said Boes, who recalled foxtrotting in dance marathons.
But the naughtiness hasn’t deterred her from watching, she said.
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