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Can Tampa's Erin Andrews win Dancing with the Stars tonight?

Dancing_erin_andrews Fans of the show are calling her a dark horse contender, but Tampa-raised Erin Andrews goes into tonight's results episode of Dancing with the Stars with a strong headwind -- tying with Pussycat Doll singer Nicole Scherzinger for the top score among the show's judges after an evening filled with provocative numbers.

Toying with the rumors of romance between her and pro dancing partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, the ESPN star danced on a bed for one number and unleashed a steamy samba during a "redemption dance" that was selected by judge Bruno Tonioli to allow Andrews to improve on a past performance.

Dancing_scherzinger It's the kind of coy sexuality Dancing has needed this season to stay interesting, as longtime fans complain that the top three performers remaining -- former college dancer Andrews, pop star Scherzinger and Olympian ice dancer Evan Lysacek - have background which gave them an unfair advantage over novice hoofers such as Pamela Anderson and Kate Gosselin.

The controversy hasn't affected the ABC show's ratings, which have often edged out Fox's reality TV giant American Idol as network TV's top-rated show, fueled by smart casting which placed buzzed-about figures such as Andrews and Gosselin at center stage for long weeks.

Now Andrews father, WFLA-Ch. 8 investigative reporter Steve Andrews, is trying to encourage local fans to show support, interviewing his daughter for a segment on NBC station WFLA -- when's the last time a local affiliate encouraged people to watch a show on another network during May sweeps? -- and talking to area radio stations to get out the word.

The only question left, is whether Andrews, who has placed near the bottom in previous weeks, has won over the fans as well as the judges.

Check one of her "redemption dances" below:

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:08pm]

    

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