Season 14 of Dancing with the Stars has been touted as the most competitive ever, but 41 percent of TVGuide.com readers think Katherine Jenkins will have her name engraved on the Mirrorball trophy on Tuesday. Of course, Donald Driver, who got 34 percent, and William Levy, who received 25 percent, are still very much in this: The average score difference between the three is less than one point.
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The trio will face off Monday (8/7c, ABC) and Tuesday (9/8c), but before they do, let's size them up.
For Him : Charm, Packer Nation and sympathy. Despite a handful of strong and dynamic performances, the judges have been underscoring Driver. He also arguably deserved his long-desired perfect score of 30 two weeks ago for his jive trio, but Len Goodman continues to hold back the 10 paddle while over-scoring some other pairs. The underscoring has angered a lot of fans and has not gone unnoticed by the pros.
Needs to work on: Getting out of his own way. Driver's so desperate for a 30 that he sometimes goes into overdrive (no pun intended) when he dances, which causes him to either slip up or tighten up. Forget about the triple 10s and just dance! If you perform it, they will come.
Why he might win: He's a better dancer than both Katherine and William; he's technically sharp and an electric crowd-pleaser. His own eight-pack also doesn't hurt and neither does his massive Green Bay Packers fan base. Plus: The fact that he's been a diehard Dancing fan since the first season — and is not doing this to shill something — is surely endearing to viewers. Football players have a great record on the show too, but while there have been many who have made it to the business end of the season, only two have won: Emmitt Smith and Hines Ward. Could Driver be the third?
Watch out for: His freestyle. We all know that's the make-it-or-break-it dance, and the pressure will be on his partner Peta Murgatroyd, who's untested in her first final in two seasons against two two-time winner pros, to deliver a routine worthy of Quickie's talent.
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Technical proficiency and her famed naughty bits. The Welsh singer is a natural dancer and has been the top scorer five out of the nine weeks. Her lowest score all season was a 24, which is almost unheard of. Shockingly, though, she has also yet to receive a 30.
Needs to work on: Performance factor. Ballroom is obviously her comfort zone and although her partner Mark Ballas has gotten Katherine more comfortable shaking her naughty bits — as last week's snake charmer routine showed — she still needs to own the flashier dances to fully pull out in front.
Why she might win: Katherine's got the edge skills-wise. And after coming in as a virtual unknown to U.S. audiences, save for her lone Dancing singing appearance last year, her bubbly, sweet personality, combined with her top-notch performances, has undoubtedly won over more fans. It's hard to gauge how large her fan base might be, but she did beat out a far more well-known Maria Menounos — who was the top scorer last week — for a final three spot, so perhaps her following is bigger than we think?
Watch out for: How her back holds up. Katherine's been cleared to continue after suffering a back spasm at the end of her salsa last week, but you never know when something like that can act up again.
Heartthrob looks and abs, and charisma. William is, as Maksim Chmerkovskiy would say, "sex on a stick." But his dancing (and butt-shaking) has been very impressive as well. Katherine and Donald have better technique than William, but ironically, he's the only finalist who's gotten a 30 — in fact, he's gotten two of them.
Needs to work on: Precision and consistency. William tends to get sloppy sometimes — due to fatigue? Lack of rehearsal? Lack of focus? Who knows, but he'll need to get it together because such lapses have not plagued Donald or Katherine yet.
Why he might win: Um, he's hot? Being eye candy aside, if the ear-piercing screams on the premiere are any indication, William's got a huge following from his telenovela work. He also has momentum on his side, having nabbed two 30s and finishing in first and second place, respectively, the past two weeks. Katherine, on the other hand, hasn't topped the leader board in a month.
Watch out for: Any shirtlessness, though you're probably on the lookout already. William has been adamant about not going shirtless all the time because he wants to show that he's more than a pretty face, but his partner Cheryl Burke is relentless in her pursuit to have him disrobe. It was a losing battle for him in the group dances, but taking it off could easily snare some cheap votes.
Who do you think will win?