THE CHAMPION WILL BE CROWNED ON THE TWO-HOUR LIVE FINALE
OF ABC�S �DANCING WITH THE STARS,� SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26
Last Chance to Vote During Special Two-Hour Live
Performance Show on Thursday, February 23
Host Samantha Harris Makes Her Ballroom Dancing Debut
Eliminated Stars Return to Dance in Sunday�s Finale
Grammy Award Winner Mary J. Blige Performs in Finale
The best of the best have tangoed, jived and cha cha�d their way into the live two-hour finale of �Dancing with the Stars,� airing SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Through the guidance of their professional dance partners, former 98 Degrees popstar Drew Lachey, WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) wrestler Stacy Keibler, and Super Bowl legend Jerry Rice have outlasted the competition and remain the final three celebrities standing -- but only one will be crowned champion of �Dancing with the Stars.�
Prior to Sunday�s finale, a special two-hour live voting and performance show will air THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23 (8:00-10:00 p.m., ET). The three finalists will each perform two dances -- their favorite dance routine from the series and a no-holds-barred freestyle routine, void of rules, allowing for some daring moves and lifts. Encompassing fifty percent of the overall score, this will be the last opportunity for viewers to cast their votes for their favorites. Viewers may vote via phone or online at www.abc.com during and up to thirty minutes after the show.
Thursday�s show also features a look back at the finalists� past performances with a unique commentary from the stars themselves describing the secrets behind the dances. The judges will choose the most memorable guest appearances of the series as well as the very best routines showcased by the professional dancers. Host Samantha Harris will also make her ballroom dancing debut as she dances the jive, led by professional dancer Jonathan Roberts.
Finally, ABC has pulled out all the stops for Sunday�s live finale. Not only will the final three couples showcase a new routine in the dance style of their choice to be scored by the judges, all seven of the previously eliminated celebrities � ESPN sportscaster Kenny Mayne, Academy Award winner Tatum O�Neal, news personality Giselle Fernandez, rap mogul Master P, actress Tia Carrere, Hollywood legend George Hamilton and actress/talk-show host Lisa Rinna -- will return with their professional dance partners to perform a dance set to some of the most memorable songs. To add to the excitement, Grammy Award-winning R&B music artist Mary J. Blige takes the stage to perform two songs, including her hit single, �Family Affair,� off her critically acclaimed album �No More Drama.� Last but not least, the winning couple will be revealed and the coveted Mirrorball trophy presented.
Scoring: The champions will be determined by a combined total of the judges� scores from Thursday and Sunday night, and the viewers� total votes from Thursday night. As always, the judges� scores make up only half of each couple�s total score. The all-important viewer votes make up the other half.
Dance experts and judges -- renowned ballroom judge Len Goodman, and dancer/choreographers Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba � will score Thursday and Sunday�s dances out of a possible total score of ninety points. The teams will be ranked from top to bottom in the order of the judges� total scores, and separately in the order of total viewers� votes. Each team will then receive ranking points for their positions on the judges� leadearboard and viewers� leaderboard, respectively. The couple finishing at the top of the FINAL judges� leaderboard on Sunday receives three ranking points, the couple in second two, and the couple in third one. The same ranking system applies to the viewers� votes. The couple with the most viewer votes receives three ranking points, the couple with the second-highest total votes two, and the couple with the least votes one. These ranking points will then be added together and the couple with the highest combined total is crowned �Dancing with the Stars� champions. In the event of a tie, the viewers� favorite couple as determined by their votes will be declared the winners.
Hosted by Tom Bergeron and Samantha Harris, �Dancing with the Stars� features celebrities paired with professional dancers performing choreographed routines and competing for a chance to be crowned champion of �Dancing with the Stars.� For the past seven weeks, teams have undergone intensive training in ballroom and Latin dance in an effort to impress a national television audience and a panel of dance experts every Thursday night.
Viewers have been voting via phone or online at www.abc.com for their favorite performers each Thursday. The judges� scores and viewers� scores are combined, and the couple garnering the lowest score has been revealed and eliminated from the competition during the �Dancing with the Stars� results show on Friday nights.
Tune in Thursday, February 23 and Sunday, February 26 to find out who among the following contestants will be crowned champion of �Dancing with the Stars�:
STACY KEIBLER � WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) wrestler, and partner/professional dancer Tony Dovolani.
DREW LACHEY � Recording artist and former member of the pop group 98 Degrees, and partner/professional dancer Cheryl Burke.
JERRY RICE � Three-time Super Bowl champ and considered by many to be the greatest wide receiver to play in the NFL, and partner/professional dancer Anna Trebunskaya.
�Dancing with the Stars� was last summer�s most successful series, averaging 16.8 million viewers weekly. This season in its Thursday time period, the popularity of �Dancing with the Stars� has grown, now attracting an average audience of 18.6 million viewers. The ABC unscripted program has emerged as one of the Top 10 most-watched shows on television this season (No. 8). �Dancing with the Stars� has improved the time period for ABC by more than 12 million viewers, qualifying as ABC�s strongest Thursday night series in the last 6 seasons � since the 1999-00 season.
�Dancing with the Stars� is the U.S. version of the international smash hit series, �Strictly Come Dancing.� This version is produced in America by BBC Worldwide. Richard Hopkins (UK) and Conrad Green (USA) are executive producers. Izzie Pick is co-executive producer. Alex Rudzinski directs. The program airs with Spanish audio via SAP. A TV parental guideline will be assigned closer to airdate.