Date: June 18 2012
AT FIRST glance it was the clash of the titans: Seven's celebrity-powered Dancing with the Stars finale against the first of a two-night finish for Nine's ratings juggernaut The Voice. But upon closer examination it was more like David and Goliath.
The Voice has commanded a weekly audience of 2 million viewers. Dancing with the Stars, its wattage dimmed by the elimination of Kerri-Anne Kennerley four weeks ago, has been getting only a little more than half that.
Left in competition on The Voice are Karise Eden, 19, Sarah De Bono, 19, Rachael Leahcar, 17, and, in a demographics-defying twist, 40-year-old Darren Percival.
If social media become the deciding factor for tonight's conclusion to The Voice, then De Bono holds all the aces, with ''vote for Sarah'' hashtags trending on Twitter last night.
Melburnian De Bono's campaign to take out the first Australian The Voice was bolstered by her coach, rock star Joel Madden when he sang a duet with his father-in-law, Lionel Richie. The pair sang Richie's own hit, the Commodores' Easy, which hit the mark with the studio audience.
Richie said the performance had been ''the best family reunion'', the singer enjoying time in Australia with Madden and daughter Nicole Richie.
But bookmakers are still giving Eden the best odds and most industry observers are tipping Percival as the race's dark horse.
Either way, none of the four will walk away empty-handed. Nine's director of development, Adrian Swift, confirmed the three runners-up would get, in order, a $30,000, $20,000 and $10,000 prize. The winner receives a recording contract with Universal Music.
Nine has also confirmed a second series of The Voice, for early 2013.
Among the shows that have taken collateral damage are Australia's Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars, both of which have drawn smaller than usual audiences against The Voice. In the Dancing with the Stars final last night 24-year-old X Factor contestant Johnny Ruffo defeated 43-year-old Danielle Spencer, the singer/actress wife of Russell Crowe.
Ruffo was partnered with Luda Kroitor, a five-time world champion salsa dancer. Kroitor has previously won Dancing with the Stars, when she partnered actor Luke Jacobz in 2008.
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