Who knew America was so crazy in love with ballroom dancing?
The biggest and most unexpected hit of the summer TV season, ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars," (search) will end on Wednesday night (9 p.m. EDT) with a showdown between soap star Kelly Monaco (search) and John O’Hurley (search), that debonair ham from "Seinfeld."
The finale is certain to top the Nielsens and be the subject of office betting pools everywhere. But that’s not the only sure thing: "Dancing with the Stars" will be back, probably as soon as the fall.
"We’re talking to ABC right now," says the show’s executive producer Conrad Green, who is already fielding calls from stars dying to be in the next installment. "The ballroom enthusiasts are coming out of the closet and there are some quite interesting names," Green teases. "We might have more stars next time and we may change the rules."
But the basic recipe for "Dancing" will stay the same. So, most likely, will the show’s unpredictability. Because the public vote is equal to the voting power of the show’s three professional judges, anything can happen — and does.
The best dancer by far (ex-supermodel Rachel Hunter (search)) was bounced midway through the competition while the clumsy ones with spunk (former New Kids on the Block member Joey McIntyre and Monaco) have endured.
And even though "Dancing" is a throwback to the breezy variety programs of yore — think "The Lawrence Welk Show" — it packs unexpected emotion and dysfunction galore.
The first to be ousted was Trista Sutter (search) ("The Bachelorette"), who fretted that her husband, Ryan, would get jealous over her steamy moves with dance partner Louis van Amstel, only to discover that Ryan didn’t give a hoot).
And you just had to love boxer Evander Holyfield (search), he of the two left feet. When KO’d in week three, he complained that he’d been misled — he thought the contest was based on popularity, not on skill.
"The public roots for the underdogs," says Green. Case in point: Monaco was berated early on but worked hard to win the judges’ favor.
But, ultimately, the public can be as tough as the judges, and that’s good news for those betting on O’Hurley.
"In the end," says Green, "they almost always vote for the better dancer."