Dancing nets stars' charities $444,000

Dancing with the Stars has earned charities a combined total of more than $444,000, according to TVNZ.

The state broadcaster said the hit show, in which celebrities competed on the dance floor to win over both judges and the public, would return next year.

The proceeds of the 99c text and phone votes totalled a provisional $444,042.80 after service charges were taken off.

TVNZ kept none of the money.

Dancing with the Stars champion Norm Hewitt's charity, Books in Homes, will receive $195,984.55. Runner-up Shane Cortese's charity Starship Foundation gets $147,625.40 and semifinalist Tim Shadbolt's charity, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, will pick up $67,435.78.

Bernice Mene's Project K receives $13,243.61; Theresa Healey's Cystic Fibrosis Association, $10,638.10; Georgina Beyer's Neonatal Trust, $4600.71; Ewen Gilmour's Variety Club, $2901.89; and Nicky Watson's Women's Refuge, $1612.76.

Starship Foundation head Andrew Young said the amount was "phenomenal" and triple what he expected. Half would be used for pain-relief pumps and the rest put towards the 2005 $3.5 million fundraising target for equipment.

He said actor Cortese, who danced with Nerida Lister, got quite emotional when told the amount.

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