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The stunned look on the faces of Jennifer Grey and her partner Derek Hough at the end of Tuesday’s telecast of Dancing with the Stars said it all: The week nine elimination was a total shocker. To find out who was the latest contestant to leave the ABC show, head to the jump.

Brandy and Maksim Chmerkovskiy earned 57 out of a possible 60 points on Monday but their paso doble and Argentine tango just weren’t good enough to keep them on the dance floor (at least, as far as the voting viewers were concerned). After receiving the most viewers votes ever for this stage of the competition, Stars tallied the results and revealed that it was Brandy’s turn to head home. That also meant that Chmerkovskiy missed the chance (yet again) to win the mirrored ball trophy.

“I’m numb,” Brandy told reporters afterwards. ” Its going to hit me tomorrow. I gave it everything I have and I don’t have any regrets. I’m so proud of me and I say that humbly. I’m very proud of Maks as well. He’s been very calm tonight!”

“I’m absolutely fine,” Chmerkovskiy added.

Maybe, maybe not. The press bombarded the duo with questions about whether Brandy really deserved to leave when teen activist Bristol Palin had been earning lower scores since week one (though on Monday, Palin’s paso earned the same score as Brandy’s). But Chmerkovskiy wasn’t looking to criticize Palin. “I agree that it’s up to the people. Tony’s elimination with Audrina was shocking just as Rick Fox’s elimination was shocking. Every season there has been a couple of shocking eliminations. I let the people decide.

“Most recently Bristol said I don’t like her,” Chmerkovskiy continued. “I never said it. I want to make sure that people understand that I’m a dancer. That’s all I am. I don’t aspire to be a politician. I express my opinion when it only comes to dancing. This season I’ve been so focused on Brandy that I really didn’t look at anybody else. It’s probably been the most rewarding season for me because I didn’t only do my job as a dance professional but I was helping a friend.”

The show is well aware that many people believe Palin should have been sent packing weeks ago. But Executive Producer Conrad Green, who’s been on Stars since the beginning, hopes that fans step back and look at the bigger picture.

“A little bit of a deep breath needs to be taken,” Green told EW. “If you look at the judges scores alone, undoubtedly, Brandy has been a better dancer throughout the competition. But the gap between her and Bristol has closed. One thing that people aren’t really taking into account [when it comes to Palin] is that a lot of viewers vote for improvement. Bristol has made a huge improvement. While she is obviously behind still in terms of technical ability, she’s that much closer than she ever was before.

“There is a popularity contest element to it, but really we let the audience vote so they can put their spin on the results,” Green continued. “Their spin could come from any number of sources. We don’t do research into how and why people vote. It might be because they like their teeth, they might come from the same state, it might be because they have always been a fan of their mother, it might be because they always liked their music. There are a million reasons people can vote. But we think its an important correction within the system. We get celebrities from all kinds of backgrounds and some people have got a lot more dance experience than others.”

Green insists that the audience is the great equalizer to the competition. “It’s not uncommon in the history of this show to have people with less dance experience lasting longer than people who do,” he said. “It’s quite rare that the person who got the highest average scores from the judges in the competition is the one who wins it. If you look at someone like Marie Osmond, who got to the finals, she wasn’t technically that great a dancer. She was a really great performer. She was almost the opposite of who Bristol is, who is technically a strong dancer but as a performer she is a bit weak. But when Marie got all the way to the finals, people weren’t screaming blue murder then.”

Brandi, who was invited back to dance next week on the show, said she at least hopes that viewers connected with her. “I just wanted people to be inspired every time we danced. I know a lot of people tweet me and say things on Facebook and all the fans, they seem to be inspired and moved by what we did on the dance floor. That’s the most important thing. I can walk away knowing that I gave this competition everything I had in me to give.”

Hell to the No!
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