The Oprah Winfrey Show: Oprah Presents Dancing With The Stars! (c)2008 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photographer: George Burns
When you watch Indiana housewife Deneen Carmichael doing the mambo on
, know this: It was almost too much. "My knees were shaking so badly that I thought I was going to fall," says Carmichael, 33, who, along with the new cast and former champs such as Helio Castroneves and Emmitt Smith, is part of Oprah's Thursday celebration of
Dancing with the Stars
"The only other time I've felt adrenaline take over my body like that was when I had to have an emergency C-section," says Carmichael, who gave birth to her first child 15 months ago.
Carmichael had written in to
, saying that she had been inspired by
- particularly actress Jennie Garth's struggle - to take introductory ballroom classes "as a great way to lose that extra baby weight."
producers responded last week by sending to her dance studio a camera crew... as well as a surprise teacher, Garth's
partner, Derek Hough. "I said, 'You've got to be kidding,'" recalls Carmichael, who was stunned into silence after Hough told her that he would spend the whole next day with her, teaching her the same mambo routine he had taught Garth. Two days later, he and Carmichael would strut their stuff for national television.
At first, Carmichael panicked. "I thought, 'Shut the blinds, hide me in the basement, tell Oprah that I've vanished.'" Hough says the look on Carmichael's face "was priceless. But she did great." And consider this: Not only did Carmichael have to face the cameras, she had to pile on the glitter and shimmy into a barely there
costume. How did Hough manage to get her out onto the
stage in one piece? "I did the same thing that I did with Jennie," he says. "I just kept her moving, kept her laughing." -
Deborah Starr Seibel