On the 'DWTS' Scene: Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough Celebrate Their Victory
by Michael Maloney, posted Nov 24th 2010 10:00AM
Nobody -- not even the legion of fans who were keeping Bristol Palin in the competition -- puts Baby in the corner!
Jennifer Grey, who became America's sweetheart back in 1987 as teenager Baby in the film 'Dirty Dancing,' was crowned the season 11 champion of 'Dancing With the Stars' last night.
After the finale, TV Squad spoke to the winner and runners-up Kyle Massey and Bristol Palin; their respective pro partners, Derek Hough, Lacey Schwimmer and Mark Ballas; as well as returning contestants about the rollercoaster that was season 11.
"I was blank," Grey told reporters after the live program. "I was in a 'surrender moment.' Whatever happens will be great, I thought. The absolute destination for me was the journey. That was the gift. Saying yes to doing the show was the gift. Getting Derek as a partner was the gift. My family standing by me and letting me go away for three months was [another] gift."
Ironically, Grey almost couldn't perform in Tuesday's finale after injuring her back during Monday's performance show. "I think Jennifer did it [to herself] when she got into her car," joked Hough.
Grey credited Hough for her success. "He's the real deal," she praised. "Derek gets the big picture."
Where will Grey keep her coveted mirrorball trophy? "My daughter's room! She earned it by standing by me."
Massey and Schwimmer were thrilled to take the runner-up position. "It felt awesome to be in the top two," Massey said. "Jennifer worked extremely hard. She's been through the most on this show."
"We all made it to the finals," Schwimmer said of the last three couples. "That's something to be celebrated. It's such a cool thing to make it to this point in the competition. We're so proud."
The actor said he plans to keep off the near 20 lbs. that he lost while competing in the show. "I'm going to buy an Ab Lounge," he quipped.
There were reports of voters having trouble getting through on the show's phone lines, but Schwimmer didn't believe that affected the program's outcome. "The show has everything under control," she said. "We all got here under fair terms."
Palin and Ballas preferred to focus on their victory, not the controversy that her continued presence on the program generated. "Jennifer and Derek won, that's to be celebrated," Ballas said. "Let's focus on the good. I'm happy for Derek. He's my foster brother."
"We all have smiles on our faces," Palin noted. "I feel great."
Palin had said earlier in the finale episode that winning would "mean a lot; it'd be like a big middle finger to all the people out there that hate my mom and who hate me."
Did Palin regret coming out with guns blazing and with that middle finger reference? "My plan was just to go out there and just have fun and that's what I did," she said. "I've learned a lot the last few months. I'm grateful and blessed to have support from Mark and my family. The show has been amazing."
"I'm extremely proud of both of my boys," said Corky Ballas, Mark's dad (who also mentored Derek.) "Mark took someone who'd never done anything, no acting, no sports, no dancing ... he did an amazing job in that freestyle. I thought it was pretty darn good!"
The finale also saw the return of the rest of season 11's contestants. David Hasselhoff, who was voted off first, spoofed himself by singing the theme to 'Baywatch' and also made fun of his early dismissal from the show. (Michael Bolton was giving a concert abroad; Audrina Patridge had to bow out due to illness.) Former pro athletes Rick Fox and Kurt Warner danced to 'Eye of the Tiger,' while comedienne Margaret Cho recreated her 'Copacabana' routine, joined by Corky's partner Florence Henderson as the tune's older version of "Lola."
"It was great to be back," Henderson raved. "Being on the show was just a great experience from beginning to end. I wasn't surprised Jennifer won. I was rooting for Kyle, as well. He epitomizes what the show is about. He started out not knowing anything and he grew into a dancer."
Which pro dancers will be back for season 12 when 'DWTS' returns in March? "We don't know," said Louis van Amstel, Cho's pro partner. "The dancers find out about six to eight days before the show starts [pre-production.]"
The last two seasons of 'DWTS' have featured increasing levels of conflict. Kate Gosselin, who appeared difficult in her video packages with partner Tony Dovolani, brought ratings and controversy to the show's 10th season. Palin surviving all the way to the finals (despite receiving low scores from the judges) also created headlines. There were reports of death threats and a suspicious white substance was mailed to the show (which turned out to be harmless powder.)
"Actually, that was my coke," joked Cho. "Oops!"
What could producers do to make season 12 even more provocative?
"The show might be ready for a same-sex couple," Van Amstel mused. "I think the more controversy there is the more people will watch."