June 20, 2005 -- VIEWERS of ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" help determine which couple gets booted each week by voting for their favorites — both by phone and on the Internet.
But unlike "Ameri can Idol," which proudly reveals the number of phone-in votes each week, "Dancing" producers refuse to reveal just how many viewer votes they've been logging since the show's premiere.
"Dancing" executive producer Conrad Green, who worked on "Idol," says there are good reasons for that.
"The viewer votes aren't revealed for two reasons. One, we don't want to lose the tension in the show regarding who's going to be eliminated," Green says.
"And two, we want the bigger-picture story to be a bit of a mystery," he says. "We don't want to publish exactly how the public is thinking in order to keep the mystery of the show.
"We want viewers to vote based on the performances they see — and not based on how they think other viewers are voting."
Unlike the "Idol" judges, who only give their opinions on the contestants, the "Dancing" judges actually vote, with their votes factored into the viewer tallies.
"It's one thing to vote based on how you think the judges are scoring . . . but if viewers are voting based on how they see each other vote, I think it becomes a popularity contest," Green says.
"We just don't think [the voting] is a big story," he says. "We think the show tells its own story and we don't think the [number of votes] really interests people all that much."
What has interested people is the show, in which celebrities like Joey McIntyre and John O'Hurley are teamed with professional dancers — and have one week to learn a ballroom-dancing routine. Each week, one "couple" is voted off.
"Dancing" has become a bona fide summer hit, reaching a high of 15.7 million viewers last Wednesday and continuing to grow each week.
Green and his "Dancing" colleagues are well aware of the voting controversies that have hounded "Idol" since its debut — particularly with some fans using computer technology to vote thousands of times for their favorites while tying up the phone lines (referred to as "phone-jamming").
It's something "Dancing" producers wanted to avoid.
"We didn't want lunatic fans skewing the results so it becomes a pure popularity contest," he says. "We limit our phone-in votes to five votes per person to give us a more representative sample."
Green did say the show gets more phone-in votes than Internet votes, probably because people can only cast one vote per Internet address.
"We still get an enormous Internet vote, but if someone wanted to vote 20 times [on the Web] they'd have to set up 20 different e-mail accounts," he says.
"With 'Idol,' the fans can vote endlessly . . . and they've got a really young audience of lunatic fans often phone-jamming.
"We felt we could be a bit more sedate with our show, which skews older.
"But maybe if we go to another season we'll have a look and perhaps change the [voting] system."