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'Dancing With the Stars': Brooke Burke voted Season 7 champion

November 25, 2008 | 11:52 pm

Dwts_7_10_2_p2In contrast to Season 6, it really seemed to me that any of the Season 7 finalists could win, depending on how the audience voted and how the mysterious “Dancing With the Stars” vote weighting worked.

Each finalist brought specific strengths to the competition. Brooke Burke was technically strong and very consistent, and her and Derek’s routines were often more ambitious than those of the other contestants.  Lance Bass and Lacey exhibited a great deal of stage presence and solid technical skills; over time, too, their choreography managed to hit the right balance of personality and adherence to the rules. Warren Sapp and Kym consistently wowed the live audience with their exuberance, and Warren got high marks for degree of personal difficulty, given that he’s a 300-pound ex-NFL player.   

In the end, though, Brooke’s skills won out, with Warren coming in second, and Lance –- surprisingly (to me, at least ) –- landing in third. 

Tonight, all of the stars from Season 7 were back ...

... in the ballroom, and Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus were the musical guests. 

I’m always struck by how beautiful Alicia Keys is, but the dancing in her number looked to be out of a workout video, and not a particularly vigorous one at that. It would be a workout video with a marketing slogan like: “Lose weight just by walking with a bit of a shimmy!” 

And, hey, Miley Cyrus sure is young.  Didn’t she promise to be in the audience to watch her “Hannah Montana” colleague Cody Linley perform? I guess that promise was conditional: Only if he made it to the finals would she watch him perform. Anyway, I’ll admit that her song was catchy.

I’d forgotten that we got to see all of the stars perform again –- in order of elimination –- and although this seems like fairly flagrant filler, it was interesting to watch the contestants improve as the weeks wore on. 

Jeffrey Ross and Edyta performed the quickstep; if memory serves, this version was more nimble. Ted McGinley and Inna were back with the foxtrot, and it was nice to see Ted’s deep tan, crisp part and sparkling white grin again. Next up were Kim Kardashian and Mark with a mambo, and I’m sorry to report that Kim still hasn’t learned how to move her hips. The footwork was also shoddy. You really get spoiled by the quality of the dances later in the season, don’t you? 

The returning stars and pros must also feel so out of shape compared with those who remained until the end. Even though they couldn’t dance, Misty May-Treanor and Maks were back. Misty got cleared to walk a few days ago, and she expressed eagerness to get back on the dance floor after her injury.  Rocco DiSpirito and Karina danced their best number by far, the mambo, but it wasn’t quite as sharp this time around. Toni Braxton and Alec couldn’t dance tonight because of some “recent, minor, successful surgery” that Toni had, but she will be on the upcoming “DWTS” tour.   

Cloris Leachman and Corky danced their tango, which was as dramatic as I remembered it being the first time. And you can bet that Cloris was excited to be back on stage, reveling in another standing ovation from the audience. Our co-hosts asked about Cloris’s rumored Broadway plans, but, whoops, it turns out that 75% (according to Cloris) of Broadway is closing in early January because, you know, people don’t go to shows during the economic apocalypse. Don’t they realize that Barack Obama is going to solve everything? You mark my words: Those shows will be back on as of Jan. 21, the day after Inauguration Day, which also happens to be the date that “Lost” returns and the day I am supposed to have my second child. An auspicious date indeed. 

Susan_2 Susan Lucci and Tony reprised their paso doble, and something seemed terribly off about Susan’s hair.  But the dance itself was well-executed. Maurice Greene and Cheryl danced the salsa, which had received accolades from the judges, including a hug from Carrie Ann. Maurice seemed to be having a great time, even more so than when they performed the dance for scores. There must be something so liberating about being eliminated. Just look at Al Gore. Cody and Julianne returned with their slap-sticky jitterbug, though they retained their blond hair for this version. And with that, Julianne left to focus on her music career, which, if the comments on this blog are any indication, may not be the best idea. I’m sure “DWTS” would have her back, however, if things don’t work out in Nashville; her energy and choreography add a great deal to the show.   

You knew they’d get a lot of mileage out of Cloris in this finale, right? In filler, one bit found her looking disheveled in her last cha-cha costume, living in a box beside the others’ trailers. She then took to the streets to ask people whom they would be voting for. In another bit, a fake movie promo for “Dirty Dancing: The Senior Years,” we saw what was essentially a highlight reel of Cloris’ most outrageous moments. 

Having been eliminated before he could further his career, comedian Jeffrey Ross was on hand to deliver a roast of the other competitors. The format of “DWTS” doesn’t really lend itself to roasting –- for instance, there doesn’t seem to be any drinking allowed in the ballroom -- so I’ll just report a couple of Jeff’s good lines. “What can you say about Lance Bass that hasn’t already been said about Clay Aiken?” and “Warren, you’re an inspiration.  How can you dance eight hours a day every day for three months and stay so out of shape?”

Finally, we were on to our finalists’ last competitive dances.  First on the dance floor were Warren and Kym, reprising their super-fun hustle, which was a best-of amalgamation of disco moves. Len said that Warren might not be the judges’ champion, but he is the people’s champion. Bruno, wearing a jacket that was even whiter than Ted McGinley’s teeth, said something about Warren’s craftiness, which seemed to be a compliment. Carrie Ann said that Warren makes everyone want to dance, which is actually kind of true. Score: 27/30, for a total of 80/90 from the three dances over two nights.

Next up were Lance and Lacey, who wisely did their nifty jitterbug from last week again. Although I wouldn’t have thought it possible, the dance actually seemed to have more energy than it did the first time. No shoes were shed this time, however. Bruno said Lance has become a great showman. Carrie Ann cited them for struggling with one lift, which even I noticed. She applauded them for never taking the safe road, however. Len expressed surprise that Lance had made it all the way to the finals but said he deserved it and had “sparkled” in the last few weeks. Score: 28/30, for a total of 81/90 for the three dances over two nights.

Dancing last were Brooke and Derek, who chose to do their Viennese waltz again. I felt this was a questionable decision, since the Viennese waltz is so blah compared to the alternatives. It did, however, showcase Brooke’s excellent form, fluidity and grace, and the classicism of the dance seemed to please the judges. There was one obvious little stumble, I thought, but the judges didn’t mention it. Carrie Ann, seemingly on the verge of tears, called Brooke a true star. Len said it was still the dance of the season. And Bruno called it –- or Brooke -– “bellissima.”  Score: 30/30, for a remarkable total of 88/90 for the three dances over two nights.

After these final dances, we found out who landed in third place: Lance and Lacey. I found this shocking –- I’d have thought it would be Warren and Kym. And Joey Fatone –- who finished second in Season 4 -– will have something to lord over Lance forever. The 'N Sync dynamics may never fade, it seems, despite Lance’s progress in getting over the “worst dancer in the group” scarlet letter he was fated to wear.   

And then it was on to the big reveal: the champions were Brooke and Derek, and Warren and Kym the runners-up. Brooke’s fiancé -- who has a very broad forehead and gives off the impression of wearing an ascot, even when he isn't -- beamed with pride. 

So, fans, now that Season 7 has wrapped up, what do you think of the results?  Of the show?  Were you heartened? Disillusioned? Where should “DWTS” go next, directionally? If you could pick any lineup of stars to compete, who would they be?  Which Season 7 star most successfully furthered his or her own career and why? As always, I very much look forward to hearing your comments, corrections and insights.

-- Sarah Rogers