Tuesday’s Dancing Finale: What You Didn’t See
05/20/2009 AT 12:00 AM EDT
Proud Parents: While gold confetti fell from above the ballroom floor, Shirley Ballas and Teri Johnson looked on, their eyes brimming with tears as their babies -- Mark Ballas and Shawn Johnson -- were crowned season 8 champs. “Oh my gosh! I’m so thrilled and surprised,” Johnson’s mom told PEOPLE, adding, “She does well under pressure.” Though this was the second DWTS trophy for Ballas, his mom Shirley, a ballroom pro herself, was also in shock. “I thought Gilles (Marini) and Cheryl (Burke) had it in the bag," she said. "The difference I saw in Shawn was a shy 17-year-old girl who turned into a woman. She gained momentum, she knew it was close and she knew what she had to do. She peaked at the right moment, didn’t she?”
The Agony of Defeat: Mere steps away from the mini huddle gathered around Johnson and Ballas was runner-up Gilles Marini consoling his son, Georges. The 10-year-old, who watched his father perform on Monday and Tuesday, sobbed as Marini held him in his arms and told him over and over “it’s alright, it’s alright.” Marini said his son’s disappointment was “pretty intense. He’s taking it badly. He’s a 10-year-old, and he wanted to put the trophy on the shelf in (his sister) Juliana’s room.” Despite not winning, Marini says the evening’s outcome was “a win-win situation.” The show introduced him to the American public, and even better, “I got to meet Cheryl,” Marini said. “If not for her, I would have been gone the first week.” Broadway Bound: Tom Bergeron proudly announced another big news Tuesday's night: his co-host Samantha Harris will be starring as Roxie Hart in Chicago on Broadway this summer. “I’m so beyond ecstatic, over-the-moon for getting my first Broadway role,” said an exuberant Harris. Looking elegant in a vintage gown and an array of Kwiat jewels, Harris couldn’t help but gush about her summer gig, which kicks off in July. “This is a dream come true. Being on the stage in front of thousands of with the lights hitting you, that is where I come alive,” said Harris, who’s known more for her Dancing and Insider hosting duties than performing. But Harris is no stranger to the stage. “I grew up in a musical family," she revealed. "My parents were in West Side Story when they were in high school in Minneapolis.”
Gimme a Break: With no summer Dancing tour this season, the stars and pros are planning a variety of other gigs. Cheryl Burke plans to vacation, while fellow pro Edyta Sliwinska will hit the books in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in journalism at UCLA. After back-to-back reality show stints, Melissa Rycroft tells PEOPLE she only has one thing on her mind for the immediate future: “I'm excited to go back home." As for her partner Tony Dovolani, he'll be hitting the gym hard. Dovolani has signed on to appear as a bodybuilder in an independent movie, Pumping Up, and has his work cut out: "I have to gain 15 pounds of muscle," he said. Lil’ Kim will also be hard at work. Her plans include writing a book, working on a new album and a Las Vegas show, which will feature singing and dancing with some Cirque du Soleil-style artistry. And it's back to the Texas ranch for Ty Murray, who has "500 head of cattle. We have a lot of work to do.” While Murray has hung up his dancing shoes for good, wife Jewel, who withdrew before the season began due to injury, is (half-heartedly) thinking about putting hers back on. When the injury first occurred, Jewel vowed to return to Dancing once healed, but now says: “I’ve seen how tired Ty is after rehearsing. He comes home and he is beat. I’m not sure I want to work that hard."
You Bet: There was more than bragging rights and a mirror-ball trophy at stake Tuesday night. Murray and his former dance partner Chelsie Hightower had a little wager riding on the night's winner. Hightower’s money was on Gilles Marini, while Murray’s pick was Shawn Johnson. "It didn't have anything to do with their dancing, but how was America going to vote," explained Murray, who became a fan favorite due to his determination and sense of humor. "I can't make a living from my dancing so I have to make my money elsewhere." Speaking of wagers, Mark Ballas will soon be collecting a $100 from Bachelor host Chris Harrison, who bet Ballas that Melissa Rycroft would finish ahead of Shawn Johnson this season. Doesn’t Harrison know that Olympic athletes have a proven track record on DWTS? Johnson is the third Olympian to win Dancing, following in the fancy footsteps of speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and ice skater Kristi Yamaguchi. -- By Monica Rizzo and Elaine Aradillas
MORE: •Shawn Johnson Upsets Gilles Marini for Dancing Title!•Shawn Johnson's Dancing Victory: How She Did It•Relive Gilles's Sexiest Dancing Routines•Look Back at Melissa's Ab-Fab Dancing RunABC; INF