Amid calls from the Writers Guild of America to push back its premiere amid the ongoing writers’ strike, ABC and Disney+ are staying on track with plans to premiere a new season of “Dancing With the Stars” next week, Variety have learned.
“Dancing With the Stars” employs a crew of 500 people and has a WGA writer on staff.
This is according to sources close to the production Variety that the show will operate in accordance with SAG-AFTRA rules, and a key focus is not to put talent in a difficult situation, as many of the Season 32 cast members are part of the actors’ guild. Another important key consideration was to ensure that the large staff would not be out of work, insiders added. ABC declined to comment.
“Everyone’s focus is to keep 500 people employed,” a production source tells us Variety. This person says the WGA writer will be back at work as soon as the strike ends.
The WGA writer on “Dancing With the Stars” works with the hosts. The show is otherwise largely unscripted given the live nature of the dance competition.
During the last strike in 2007-2008, “Dancing With the Stars” remained in production and similarly rehired its writer once the strike was over.
SAG-AFTRA rules mean talent is still allowed to appear, as “Dancing with the Stars” participation falls under the Network Code agreement, which is not part of the current strike. The Season 32 cast includes several members of SAG-AFTRA, including Alyson Hannigan, Jamie Lynn Spears, Barry Williams, Matt Walsh, Mira Sorvino, Ariana Madix and Xochitl Gomez.
“Dancing With the Stars” typically features in-episode video packages showcasing the cast’s previous television and film projects. Under current strike rules, past SAG-AFTRA projects cannot be promoted or discussed, which could make “DWTS” packages difficult — but a source confirms this season will not include footage from past shows or movies to comply with union rules . (For example, don’t expect to see “Brady Bunch” flashbacks when he introduces Williams to his rumba, and Hannigan won’t discuss her time slaying vampires on “Buffy” while slaying on the dance floor.)
“Dancing With the Stars” has recently become the subject of online chat among WGA members on social media. Over the weekend — as news broke that “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “The Talk” and “The Jennifer Hudson Show” were backing out of plans to return during the strike — WGA members called “Dancing With the Stars” and noted that it is a WGA-covered show, meaning a WGA-represented writer is employed. WGA member David Slack’s tweet went viral, noting that “‘Dancing with the Stars’ is a WGA-covered show. Its writers are on strike, and they can’t do the show without scrap writing.” Other writers called the show variations of “Dance with the Crusts” or “Scabbing With the Stars”.
On Monday morning, former series pro Cheryl Burke said Variety that she felt “Dancing With the Stars” should go on hiatus until the strikes ended. “At the end of the day, we have to stick together because that’s the only way to make any significant change,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to be good for the show, to be honest, in the long run. I understand what they’re thinking and I get it. It’s a business, but there’s no business without the rest of it.” the business… I think they need to stick together. I think we need to stand as one. We need to unite in reality and not just say we are united.”
After a month of deadlocked negotiations, the WGA will meet with the AMPTP on Wednesday, which will mark day 140 of the strike.
“Dancing With the Stars” is set to debut with a two-and-a-half-hour premiere on Sept. 28 on ABC and simulcast on Disney+. The season represents a return to ABC for “DWTS,” which had moved exclusively to Disney+ last season, and also a shift to Tuesdays after a longer run on Monday nights.
Variety has contacted a WGA spokesman for comment.