"Dancing With the Stars" crowned its newest — and youngest — champ last night when Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, 17, edged out "Sex and the City" stud Gilles Marini to win Season 8. Last-minute addition "The Bachelor"-jilted Melissa Rycroft came in third place. All three scored top marks for their routines from the panel of judges with the viewer vote making the difference. With such strong performances this year, perhaps this show can finally win the Emmy Award for choreography.
After all, the two women in the final three both came to the dancefest with a talent for toe-tapping. Shawn Johnson won gold at the 2008 Olympics and was the 2007 world champion gymnast. And before we got to know Melissa Rycroft as one of the women vying for Jason Mesnick's attentions on "The Bachelor," she performed with the renowned Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. As for Gilles Marini, he certainly made all the right moves on Kim Cattrall in the big-screen version of "Sex and the City."
Surprising as it seems, this celebrity dance-off has lost the choreography Emmy for three years running. In 2006, "Dancing With the Stars" had three noms in the category but lost to "High School Musical." In 2007, there was a three-way tie as "So You Think You Can Dance" took two Emmys and "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" also won, leaving "Dancing With the Stars" the sole loser. Last year, "So You Think You Can Dance" repeated, albeit with just one win.
Over those first three years of Emmy eligibility, "Dancing With the Stars" managed only four technical wins from its 23 nominations. Besides that embarrassing shutout in the choreography category, the show has lost the reality competition title three years running to "The Amazing Race." And last September, "Dancing with the Stars" emcee Tom Bergeron lost the first Emmy race for reality show host to Jeff Probst of "Survivor."
At one point, it was thought that the judges on these reality competition shows would be getting their own category at the next Emmy Awards. When we polled you in September about which of the panel on "Dancing With the Stars" deserved to claim this new prize, you overwhelmingly went with Bruno Tonioli. He reaped slightly more than half of the 1,348 votes cast in our "Dancing With the Stars" poll, followed by 29% for Len Goodman and 20% for Carrie Ann Inaba. While the Emmys have decided against adding that category this year, the continued success of such shows as "Stars" and "American Idol" bodes well for it being added in the future.