He may not be the best celebrity contestant of the bunch, but on Monday’s Dancing with the Stars, Billy Ray Cyrus was among the most talked about thanks to an unforgettable pant-splitting episode, hunky group dance moves (in ’40s army wear) and, of course, that unflappable smile (even Ian Ziering was told to try and tap into Cyrus’s impassioned effort). Knowing the end is likely near, we caught up with the country star (and dad of pre-teen TV/pop star Miley Cyrus) and his dancing partner Karina Smirnoff to see what the future holds. What we learned is that when it comes to the Cyrus clan, it’s all about synergy… and Sanjaya.
EW: So what happened out there tonight, you guys?
Karina: We were doing the jive, and Billy Ray had to do a jump and a sit, and as he did the sit, the pants split, so he freaked out and looked underneath, and there was the crotch shot.
Billy Ray: The thing is, on last week’s show, the dance of love, I tried really hard technically to do all the things right, so that the judges would love it and I would make Karina proud. I tried my head off, but [the judges said] it ended up looking like hanky-panky in the back seat of a Chevy. That hurt my feelings! So I told Karina, “If they’re going to give us comments about hanky-panky, let’s give them hanky-panky!”
Karina: But doesn’t he look good in the uniform? I’d want to do hanky-panky with a man dressed like that!
EW: With Idol taping next door, have you had any interesting run-ins with the contestants?
Billy Ray: I’ve met most of them. They see me out there and ask for my picture. They’re all so young. But it was ironic that a week ago, Sanjaya [and I] did a picture in the elevator and the next night, he got eliminated. I figured I’d be going before he does. But he’s gonna possibly come do a guest spot on Hannah Montana, because he’s a fan of the show. But enough about Sanjaya, let me give you a hot tip about Karina who is starting to film her next episode of Hannah Montana. She’s done her first role as an actress, she has a lot of dialogue, and I’ve been telling everyone, she’s great at it. She’s an actress with instincts, like she is as a dancer, and I think she will learn quickly.
EW: What’s the role, Karina?
Karina: I’m a fortune teller, and I foresee a lot of pain! [laughs]
Billy Ray:She has three scenes with the kids, but in the end,it’s just me and her. I go to the fortune teller, and she tells me I’mgonna be suffering, and my knees are gonna be hurting.
EW: I know they don’t let you pick your own music on Dancing with the Stars, but if you could dance to one song this season, which would it be?
Billy Ray: I just recorded “Over the Rainbow,” and myinspiration was Eva Cassidy’s version. She was a tremendous artist,maybe one of the greatest, only she wasn’t discovered hugely untilafter she passed away. I’m a big fan of her version, so I recorded itfor a new album that comes out in September on Walt Disney Records. Mydream would be to perhaps incorporate dancing into some of my concerts,where Karina would come out in the middle of the show and dance to”Over the Rainbow” or “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. I alsore-cut “Brown-Eyed Girl” — Karina’s gonna dance in the video — and “PutA Little Love in My Heart.” The world needs that song right now,there’s a lot of hatred going on.
EW: Is this a covers album?
Billy Ray: No, only those songs, and I wrote the rest of thealbum. To be honest, I wasn’t gonna make another album. My last albumwas a joke. I Want My Mullet Back, it was as tacky as anythingI’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot of tacky things. After that album,I said, “This is it, I quit.” But I’ve never tried anything classy, andI started thinking about Eva Cassidy and other songs and artists thatinspired me, and I said, “We’ll make one more album.” So then Disneylaid a contract on me, they seemed pretty serious about integrity, andhere we are. Tomorrow, I’m doing a photo shoot for the album cover.Wanna come?