LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Wisconsin man angry at the success of Bristol Palin on “Dancing with the Stars” blasted his TV with a shotgun as she waltzed her way into the program’s finals.
Steven Cowan’s violent outburst came amid a heated debate over Palin’s survival on the TV dance competition show despite weeks of low scores.
Critics say the 20 year-old is benefiting from the popularity of her politician mother, Sarah Palin, with the largely older, female viewers of the program. Each week the dancers are judged by a panel of experts and then voted upon by viewers, and based on a combination of scores and ballots, one contestant is voted off.
According to a criminal complaint obtained by The Smoking Gun website on Wednesday, Cowan’s wife Janice told police her husband was watching Bristol Palin dancing Monday night when he “jumped up and swore...Steven was upset that a political figure’s daughter was on this show when Steven did not think that she was a good dancer.”
Cowan, 67, then took his shotgun and fired a round into the TV screen, triggering a 15-hour stand-off with police in the small town of Vermont, Wisconsin. He surrendered and was charged with reckless endangerment and use of a dangerous weapon, according to the complaint.
Bristol Palin, whose mother Sarah is a conservative Tea Party favorite and one of the most polarizing politicians in the U.S., was voted through to next week’s “Dancing” finals on a record number of public votes, ousting the more confident and composed dancer and singer Brandy.
More than 17 million Americans watched Tuesday’s results show in what broadcaster ABC said was the biggest audience for “Dancing” since late September.
Brandy said on Wednesday she was shocked at losing out Palin for a spot in the finals.
Her professional dance partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, showed even greater disappointment. “In this case you cross the finish line first, and somebody (Palin) barely finishes, and you get a tie because they showed heart. It’s kind of difficult for me to deal with,” Chmerkovskiy told morning news show “Good Morning America”.
Bristol Palin this week hit back at her critics, attributing her success to hard work and saying that her mother’s high profile has its disadvantages.
“I’ve gotten so many people who just attack me every day because of who my mother is,” she told Access Hollywood on Monday.
Palin will compete in next week’s “Dancing with the Stars” final against “Dirty Dancing” actress Jennifer Grey and former “That’s So Raven” Disney child star Kyle Massey.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte