Some stars can cause a commotion just by walking into the room. And that was certainly the case with country legend Dolly Parton, who brought the crowd to its feet without any prompting from Dancing with the Stars' warm-up Cory Almeida. Rarely has the ballroom seen this kind of over-the-top reception for a guest performer. The only question was whether the 500 members of the studio audience would settle down long enough to let her sing. "I didn't have to say a word," says Almeida. "Come on, it's Dolly Parton."
Like most television shows that go out live to the satellite, Dancing with the Stars pretapes special segments that require too much extra setup to be done on the fly. There might be special staging, as there was for the exceptional performance by tap dancer Savion Glover. Or, in Dolly's case, a fantastic backup band that needed to be plugged in. So an hour before the results show hit the airwaves, Parton owned the room. Luckily for the studio audience, there was a technical snafu and she had to perform "9 to 5" twice. "That's OK, I need the practice," she says. "I've only been singing it for 25 years."
But the crowd, in a happy-feet mood, wanted to see her dance. "You don't want to see me do that, trust me," she says. "When I think about dancing, I have visions of Billy Ray." Country star Billy Ray Cyrus, you will recall, had his own style of movement that had little to do with classical ballroom technique. "I love you, Dolly," called a fan from the balcony. But Dolly knows how to handle the lovesick: "I told you to wait in the truck!"
You have to wonder whether the 12 new dancing celebrities got to enjoy her performance. Because there was a look of real dread on a number of faces when they finally came out to face the music: Josie Maran, who eventually got the boot. Jennie Garth, who looked like she was attending a funeral. And Mark Cuban, who landed in the bottom two and looked like he'd had the wind knocked out of him. When they didn't call his name to go home, Cuban's whole body sagged in relief. His pro partner, Kym Johnson, turned to him with words of encouragement, and you could see that he needed them. He danced remarkably well for a man with no dance experience and who's still in rehab for a hip replacement that took place just three short months ago. But he keeps reminding the voting public how much money he's worth and, perhaps, giving people a reason to want to kick his butt to the curb.
Judge Carrie Ann Inaba isn't willing to write off any of the men just yet. Based on the first week's performance, everyone is saying that it might finally be the season where women rule. Kelly Monaco won the first time out, of course, but she had a very rough ride. This time, the women seem more confident right out of the gate. "It's refreshing to see the women do so well," says Inaba. "We've been waiting."
But Inaba also said that you can't really put your money on the women until after Week 2. Why? "Because Sabrina [Bryan] and Mel B. came out with their Latin numbers, which they were suited for. And Jane Seymour did her fox-trot, which she is suited for. Let's see what happens when Sabrina and Mel do ballroom and Jane does Latin. Let's see what they do next week."
Get more Dancing with the Stars moments with our Online Video Guide.
The Oct. 1 issue of TV Guide features an in-depth preview of Heroes, featuring Hayden Panettiere, Ali Larter and the newest hero, Kristen Bell. Plus: Inside Jerry Seinfeld's return to television on 30 Rock. Try four risk-free issues now!
Send your comments on this feature to firstname.lastname@example.org.