'Hurricane Bristol' kicks up a storm on 'Dancing With the Stars'

This season's competition and finale.
By Lisa de Moraes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 17, 2010; 8:18 PM

Judging from the final moments of this week's elimination episode, things could get tense next week when the winner is named for this edition of the ABC dance competition series "Dancing With the Stars."

Some studio audience members booed on Tuesday's results show when host Tom Bergeron announced that pop singer Brandy was out and that Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol had made it through to next week's final round. (Actress Jennifer Grey and Disney star Kyle Massey had already gotten word they'd made it through.)

The tenseness in the studio during the live results show came just hours after a SWAT team had to talk a 67-year-old Wisconsin man out of his home after he blasted his TV with a shotgun in response to Bristol's dance routines on Monday night's performance show.

The overnight standoff began, a Dane County sheriff's detective said in court documents, when Steven Cowan decided he'd had enough of Bristol, who is one of this edition's "Stars" because she's the child of a famous mom. Cowan thinks Bristol is not a good dancer, the Associated Press reported with its typical understatement, noting that he has bipolar disorder. Cowan loaded a shotgun and blasted the TV before turning the gun on his wife, who suffered a better fate than her TV set. She escaped to safety, AP said.

Word of the TV-set massacre had not reached Grey's dance partner, Derek Hough, by the time the live results show started at 9 p.m. the next night. Otherwise, Hough might not have looked so stunned as Bergeron announced that Bristol had survived but Brandy was out. Also looking pretty gobsmacked were the show's three professional judges.

"This is such a shock!" co-host Brooke Burke said, throwing it to judge Bruno Tonioli.

"I'm shocked," Bruno said. "I want to stress it's very important for everybody to vote. It's so close, every vote counts. I'm so disappointed!" Bruno emoted, asking Brandy whether she'd come back and dance on Monday's performance show anyway. "Will you come and do it for me, for us? Come on!"

Asked by Burke how she felt, Brandy responded: "I don't know how to feel right now. This hasn't processed right now for me." Bergeron stepped up and hugged Brandy as she began to tear up.

Once again this week, Bristol, who went into this competition with no dance or performance experience, had been at the bottom of the heap when it comes to scoring points from the three judges. But once again, people casting their votes kept her in the competition. Who survives each week is determined by a formula of judges' points and public votes.

After Tuesday's announcement, Bergeron asked Brandy's dance partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy: "This season struck me as the most surprising, in that couples who would get their highest score on Monday night were often the ones who left on Tuesday night. What do you think has been different this season?" Maks, with uncharacteristic restraint, said that one thing he loves about his parents' having come to this country is "the fact that people vote, and their voices count, and I love the fact that the show represents that. And it represents the people's choice."

Earlier in the day, on conservative Web site HillBuzz, people discussed having figured out a way to game ABC's e-mail-voting feature, thanks to what they called a technical glitch:

"Here's a hint: They don't have to be VALID email addresses to register them with ABC.com, there is apparently no validation process," one commenter said. "They just have to be formatted like a valid email address, and you must use a valid zip code and a birthdate that makes you old enough to vote. No, it doesn't have to be a valid email address - I had one of my anonymous ones XXX@yahoo.com that I used, and then just did the sign-up process all over again with XXX1@yahoo.com and it worked."

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