Uh, oh. By putting up this headline yours truly will be accused of making a political statement. Actually: no. We’ve run two links to stories dealing with the controversy over speculation on the Internet by websites, blogs and stories by some news organizations that Sarah Palin’s supporters were trying to flood “Dancing with the Stars” to help her daughter Bristol win the contest. One link we ran went to an excellent roundup suggesting that if she won, as many predicted she would, and if it turned out she won for political reasons, the franchise could be damaged as a show business property, showcase for dancing competition, and money-earner for its producers and its network.
In both cases because we dared doing something as reckless as posting a link we got angry emails (and even comments in comments) suggesting that yours truly and the site were attacking Bristol Palin or making a political statement. This may sound like a Saturday Night Live sketch…but it’s true.
Putting up links to a story that’s all over the Internet, mentioned on left and right wing radio talk shows, and even on cable news shows was just that: putting up links to a popular story people are talking about. Still, this is the way politics works these days: if someone sees something they disagree with, or assume it’s up there for a reason, the response is to go into attack mode not about the content of a post but about its supposed intent.
For the first and FINAL time in the five year history of this website..
To fully claryify this in advance…
To make it 100 percent abundantly clear:
WHAT FOLLOWS is a follow up post since we ran two links on a story that was a combination show biz news story and political story:
Those who believed the cyberspace grassy knoll theory of Dancing with the Stars voting were proven incorrect: Bristol Palin did not win the contest. The winner was actress (“Dirty Dancing”) Jennifer Grey, daughter of actor Joel Grey.
There were several components in the controversy involving Bristol Palin’s time on Dancing With the Stars: (1)Those who wanted her to win because she was her mother’s daughter and (2) Those who wanted her to lose because she was her mother’s daughter and (3)Those who view the show as a contest to see who gives the TV audience the best dance on the show. If it was giving a song and dance to voters, then members of Congress from both parties would win.
So here is a roundup with links and quotes (not posted as political statements but just what they are):
Len Goodman: “Don’t listen to me Bristol. I told you last week to take a chance, and this week you did, and I didn’t like it that much.”
Bruno Tonioli: “You have to express. You’ve got to feel it, and we have to see that you feel it. It is very frustrating because I know that there is something in there but show it to me baby.”
Bruno Tonioli: “She’s no Catherine Zeta Jones but she’s a nice girl who tries her best, that’s why the public is engaged by her. They feel like she’s the girl next door doing her best. She’s a very, very nice person and people love that.”
Maybe there’s hope for America yet. After weeks of speculation, conjecture, conspiracy and all-out panic, the blue portion of the nation breathed a big sigh of relief last night when Bristol Palin lost Dancing with the Stars. Next stop, the White House, amirite?! Oh, wait: Barack Obama is still president, Dancing with the Stars is just a television show, and liberal bête noire Sarah Palin wasn’t even competing. So, why was everyone so outraged at the idea of a 20-year-old girl winning?
Maybe because she’s just like her mother, in the best and worst ways possible. Like Mama Grizzly, Bristol had determination about her that probably did endear her to some non-Tea Party members of the viewing audience. She wasn’t a good dancer, she didn’t even look interested in being on the show, but gosh; she was plucky and resourceful!
But then there’s the other side to Bristol — the side that appeared last night on Dancing with the Stars, and the side that was eerily reminiscent of a certain former Alaskan governor. She’s entitled, arrogant and obscenely self-serving. “Going out there and winning this would mean a lot,” Bristol told the Dancing with the Stars audience during a clip package on the finale. “It would be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and hate me.”
Graciousness shouldn’t have a political party, but apparently for the Palins it does. They don’t just want to defeat you; they want to crush anyone who opposes them, even in the most stake-free venues. Like Dancing with the Stars. Or Facebook.
—Pop Eater says the show’s are “thrilled” Bristol Palin did not win:
Dancing With The Stars’ producers are thrilled Bristol Palin didn’t win in last night’s finale, fearing her triumph would have made it next to impossible to get celebrities to sign up for next season’s competition.
“Hollywood is famously liberal, and to have the daughter of a Tea Party candidate win would have meant that booking the show would have been impossible,” a casting director tells me. “Now that Jennifer Grey has won, so many other stars will want to be part of the show and try to get their hands on the mirror ball trophy. If Bristol had won, the show would have been dead.”
It’s true the ‘Dancing’ winners are all proud to be part of an elite club, which includes Kelly Monaco, Drew Lachey, Emmitt Smith, Apolo Anton Ohno, Helio Castroneves, Kristi Yamaguchi, Brooke Burke, Shawn Johnson and Donny Osmond — all of whom are much happier to welcome Jennifer into the club than Bristol. (As if Bristol winning would take away from their previous achievements!)
Does Bristol Palin have congrats for Dancing with the Stars champ Jennifer Grey?
“Oh of course!” Palin, 20, told UsMagazine.com after Tuesday’s finale. “Jennifer did awesome!”
Although some predicted that the low-rated but buzzed-about Palin would sneak away with the mirrorball trophy, the young mom and political daughter placed third in the final tally of viewer votes and judges’ scores. (Disney star Kyle Massey, 19, nabbed second place.)
“I feel like I accomplished a lot,” the inexperienced dancer told Us, crediting her pro partner Mark Ballas. “He started from scratch on this whole thing, and I’m thankful that he took on this challenge.”
Added the Alaskan: “I’ve just had the time of my life,” she said, unintentionally referencing the theme song to Dirty Dancing, Grey’s most famous film role.
Palin’s most surprising part of the journey, she told Us: “I didn’t expect to be so consumed by this and so into learning dances… in a good way!”
Jennifer Grey is not just happy she won “Dancing with the Stars,” she’s also happy she wasn’t ripped apart by Mama Grizzly.
In a post-show interview with Jimmy Kimmel, the “Dirty Dancing” star said she was relieved she didn’t experience a fall-out from second runner-up Bristol Palin’s famous mother.
“Congratulations for winning ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and for not being shot by Sarah Palin,” the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” host said.
“So happy about both,” Grey replied with a laugh.
The 50-year-old actress sat poised next to her pro partner, Derek Hough — the first pro dancer to win the Mirror Ball trophy three times — despite being rushed to the hospital after suffering a slipped a disc Tuesday morning.
“There’s a gurney waiting for me taking me to the airport,” Grey joked, before hopping on a plane to New York to appear on “Good Morning America” and “The View.”
The night may have belonged to Dancing’s newly-crowned champion, Jennifer Grey, but the conversation in the ballroom after the finale was all about the woman who came in third, Bristol Palin. There was relief in many quarters that she hadn’t won, and wide admiration for the way she’d handled the firestorm of criticism about her inclusion in the final three.
“I really respect the way Bristol handled all that controversy,” says contestant Florence Henderson. “She’s a tough kid. I remember being 20 and having to stand up against a lot of obstacles. And you either overcome them, or you retreat. And I don’t think she’ll retreat. I think she’s a lot like her mother.”
“She works hard and doesn’t deserve any of that,” says Disney star Kyle Massey, who came in second. “She’s really innocent and sweet and we love her to death,” says Massey’s pro partner, Lacey Schwimmer.
“I can’t believe people hate a young girl because they don’t like her mother,” says pro Corky Ballas. “That little girl has nerves of steel.”
She’d have to, because as the season drew to a close, there was an undercurrent of anger — and possible danger — that was all but impossible to ignore. On this night, aside from a heavy contingent of security officers, a bomb-sniffing dog made a loop of the ballroom in the last half-hour before the show went live. “That’s a little unnerving, isn’t it?” said one staffer. Added another, “Our chief of security is pretty much following Bristol around morning and night.”
When all the votes were counted, Bristol Palin failed to dance past Jennifer Grey for the Mirror Ball trophy on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”
Marc Malkin, senior editor of E!, told CBS News, “Was it an upset? No, technically the best dancer won — but the Tea Party, the GOP — they’re upset.”
What began as a simple dance competition became a battle between old Hollywood — and new politics, observes CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy.
So after all the controversy, conspiracy talk and jawboning, Jennifer Grey, whom seemingly everyone pegged from the beginning to win Dancing with the Stars, won Dancing with the Stars. Why, after all the talk that some online Tea Party juggernaut was going to carry Bristol Palin across the finish line? Was it political backlash? Overexposure? A failed coup? Or was it—as I’m guessing—that DWTS fans recognized that Grey was the better dancer all along, and Palin was another reality contestant in the grand tradition of Jasmine Trias: a dark-horse contestant with a fan base big enough to carry her longer than the evidence of our senses would have suggested, but not big enough to win.
In any case, I would hope that the end of this season of DWTS would put an end to the overinterpreting of the political importance of Bristol Palin’s performance. Though she herself encouraged just that last night when she said that winning would be “a big middle finger to all the people out there who hate my mom and hate me.
Grey and professional partner Derek Hough consistently topped the judges’ leader board, but Palin’s loyal fan base led to her surprisingly reaching the final.
Palin’s improbable run for the finals had been championed by some conservative bloggers, who led get-out-the-vote campaigns on behalf of the 20-year-old single mother. Palin’s fan support was evident when she was voted in last week over singer Brandy — who had received a perfect score for her one dance — on last week’s show, prompting some viewers to question the veracity of the “Dancing” voting system.
Palin, an unwed mother and abstinence advocate, was boosted into the finals by her mother Sarah Palin’s political supporters, whose votes offset the low scores she routinely received from the judges.
A military jacket-clad Palin let loose for a few seconds with an air guitar riff during her first dance of the finals evening, the tango with partner Mark Ballas, and the judges commended her on her fighting spirit.
“He’s got the wow, and you’ve got the how,” judge Len Goodman put it succinctly about Ballas and Palin’s complementing styles.
Agreed fellow judge Carrie Ann Inaba: “This is by far my favorite. There’s something about it that showcases your core strength.”
But looks as though sheer strength wasn’t enough to push the controversial competitor forward to a win in the end. The show’s resident girl-next-door shimmied frantically and gyrated in a red dress with layered fringes for the final number of the night, an “instant” Cha Cha set to Pink’s “Raise Your Glass.”
At the end of the day, Bristol may have been the best thing to ever happen to “Dancing with the Stars.” It provided a huge jump in the show’s ratings, and the best performer ultimately still ended up winning the competition. How can that be anything but a win-win?
—MSNSC.COM’s Andy Dennart looks at the impact of Bristol Palin on the show and its intent:
Before “Dancing with the Stars” crowned Jennifer Grey its champion Tuesday night, there was all kinds of discussion about how the ABC competition series could lose its credibility if Bristol Palin won.
What credibility? A show that has featured Jerry Springer, Kate Gosselin, The Hoff, Tom DeLay, and Cloris Leachman has no credibility, at least not as some kind of serious dance competition. While the judges may deduct a point for an errant step, it is ridiculous to imagine that all viewers make decisions based upon those kinds of technical determinations.
Yet the aggrieved fans and critics of the show acted as if a series that mangles pop songs, has a set decorated with dangling strings of Christmas lights, and gives out only a crappy mirror ball trophy as its prize was somehow a serious competition, not a complete joke from day one.
What “Dancing with the Stars” actually has is popularity, and what it will have in the future is more Bristol Palins. Call it The Bristol Effect, and expect to see it a lot more in future seasons, perhaps as early as this spring.
“Dancing with the Stars” is immensely popular, even beating “American Idol” for a moment last spring. Its viewers are much older, which is something most people don’t take into account, since the age of viewers probably correlates to the age of voters.
–And in the end the controversy was GREAT for ABC, given the ratings:
More than 24.1 million people tuned in to Dancing with the Stars to see if Bristol Palin would win (she didn’t), which helped ABC to achieve its most-watched Tuesday in three years. The two-hour finale won its time period in viewers and adults 18-49 (5.3 rating/15 share) and finished as the night’s No. 1 show by wide margins over CBS’ NCIS and Fox’s Glee, according to preliminary results.
The show even gained viewers and young adults throughout the broadcast: In the final half hour, the show lured 26.4 million viewers and posted a 6.0/17 in 18-49. Each 18-49 ratings point represents 1.3 million. The results show brought another 4.8 million viewers to ABC compared to last year and posted a 23% gain in the key demo. That was also the finale’s biggest audience in six seasons and its best demo rating in five seasons.
UPDATE: Sarah Palin responds to her daughter’s loss (where else but on FACEBOOK).
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.