By People Staff
Updated October 01, 2008 12:00 AM
Kelsey McNeal/ABC; Michael Desmond/ABC

No Longer a Boy, Not Quite a Man: Julianne Hough praised her Hannah Montana partner Cody Linley for his “sexy, little rumba”, but she couldn’t help poking fun at the 18 year old and his tiny tuft of of chest hair. “Look at that little crop of hair in there!” Hough said, pointing at the open front of Linley’s shirt, “I could probably tweeze them out one by one, and it wouldn’t take as long as somebody getting waxed!”

Hough could probably pluck out Linley’s hair in no time–if she can actually hold him still. “It’s like that in rehearsals.” Julianne said of Linley’s now-famous disappearing acts, “I’m like, ‘Cody, where are you going?’ And it’s always something, he needs to blow his nose, he needs to get water, he needs to get food, he needs to stop at the gas station to get something else to drink.” What Rivalry?: The show’s producers did their best to tout Corky Ballas joining the show as having all the makings of a heated father-son rivalry. And after two weeks of competition, the Corky and son Mark Ballas found themselves in the one situation that they dreaded the most: up against each other during elimination. Mark, the show’s reigning champion, was the first one to make his move. “He came up to me before the break, and he gave me a kiss and a hug, and he said, ‘I hope it’s me, Dad, and not you.'” Corky said.

In the end, it was a bittersweet victory for the elder Ballas, as he later described hearing his son’s name called as “horrible,” likening it to, “someone running a knife right through me.” “My dad’s been a hero to me all my life,” an admittedly dejected, but still proud Mark said, “and he’s always been a great role model, and he’s taught me everything that I know. I love him more than anything.” And as Mark and his celeb partner Kim Kardashian finished their final dance, the first set of open arms to greet Mark were his father’s. “I just wanted to hug him,” Corky later said, “and I said to him, ‘I love you, I’m proud of you and I’m sorry.’

The “Clori-ography” Dance Craze: Cloris Leachman‘s moves on the dance floor have failed to excite the judges’ paddles, but as the couples were pared down to the final foursome, the 82-year-old broke the tension by showing Kardashian a few dance moves, even spinning the young brunette around in a pirouette that ended in a curtsy. When asked about the impromptu lesson, Leachman let out her trademark cackle and said, “She wanted to know a couple of moves, so I showed her a couple of my moves. There may be a dance studio in my future, you never know.”

Even pro partner Corky Ballas, who has managed the wild card Leachman through three nerve-wracking eliminations had to admit, that at this point, nothing would surprise him. “It’s called, “Clori-ography”! That’s what we do! She has her own way of doing things, and her own ideas of what she wants everyone to do, so why not?”

But it’s the mouth–and not the moves–Leachman that bear watching. “After seven seasons,” Samantha Harris admitted. “It is so great to have something fresh and unpredictable like that. Cloris is, hands down, the most unexpected, uncontrollable, and most exciting contestant we’ve ever had on the show.” But Harris, who often has a look of fear on her face whenever Leachman heads backstage, admits that she approached the casting of Leachman with more than a little trepidation. “I was a little concerned about what would happen with Cloris.” Harris said, “Prior to the show starting, I had interviewed her costars Meg Ryan and Annette Bening, and when I told them that the show was live, they both gasped, and said, ‘Oh my God! Good luck to you!'”

Dancing, Hazardous to Your Health?: After getting beaten up by the judges in back-to-back weeks, Rocco DiSpirito and partner Karina Smirnoff admitted to being the most surprised when they heard their names called as Smirnoff let out a squeal of delight that may be still ringing in host Tom Bergeron‘s ears. “For I second, ” Smirnoff said after the show, “I didn’t believe that they called our names. They said, ‘Rocco, and Karina,’ and I was like, ‘Wait, Rocco, and Karina! That’s us!’

After being saved to dance another week, DiSpirito admitted that the show is already starting to take its toll, both mentally, and physically. “It’s crazy, the range of emotions that you feel.” he said, “This show makes you feel old when you’re rehearsing, because everything hurts. And then it makes you feel like a 15 year old on Tuesday, when you get through for another week.” Smirnoff couldn’t help being a little more melodramatic, adding, “I think that if they had kept us around until the end of the show, we would have developed a heart condition, and I would have gone into cardiac arrest.”

Next week’s game plan? If he doesn’t deliver a dance that doubles his score of 16, DiSpirito said, “I’m going to have to cook for the judges.”

More from Inside the Ballroom: •Jessica Simpson‘s pre-taped two-song performance had a surprise guest: little sis Ashlee Simpson Wentz snuck in just before Jessica started her first song. Wearing jeans and a black flowing shirt, the mom-to-be sat with three female friends and joined in on both of her sister’s well-earned standing ovations. She slipped out the side door as soon as taping finished.

Tom Bergeron being lauded by the crowd warmer for his job hosting the Emmys. “Please!”, Bergeron said, laughing, “For God’s sake, don’t bring that up!” –Reagan Alexander

Kelsey McNeal/ABC; Michael Desmond/ABC