Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Controversial New Season of Dancing With the Stars & It’s Possible Delay
On Sept 13, the new season of Dancing With the Stars announced its star-studded cast. Among the stars joining the ballroom are Mira Sorvino, Vanderpump Rules‘ Ariana Madix, former Bachelorette Charity Lawson, Jamie Lynn Spears, Matt Walsh, Marvel actress Xochitl Gomez, How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan and NFL star Adrian Peterson.
Until then, things were smooth sailing for the show; contestants began rehearsals, fans started to get excited, and so on. That all changed, however, when the Writer’s Guild Association (WGA for short) declared that the hit ABC show was a WGA-covered production and, therefore, starting the new season would go against the strike rules.
“The Guild has, and will continue to, picket struck shows that are in production during the strike,” read a WGA statement provided to TheWrap.
According to Variety, the show, which is still set to debut on Sept 26, is under the guild because it employs one WGA writer for all its introductions and scripted bits. In addition to the one writer, who is still seemingly on strike, the show also employs roughly 500 staff members, including crew members and producers.
Since the backlash from the union, WGA members have joined picket lines outside the DWTS studios and even targeted the contestants who are actors including Sorvino, Walsh and Hannigan. “The WGA respects all writing whether it’s a single writer on a feature film with 500 people or it’s a single writer on a TV show with 500 people,” a picketer explained to Deadline. “It’s all the same to us and we’re going to protect writing across the board.”
Shortly after picket lines started to form, Veep alum Matt Walsh, who was paired with professional dancer Koko Iwasaki, announced he would be “taking a pause” from the show on Sept 21.
“I am taking a pause from Dancing with the Stars until an agreement is made with the WGA,” Walsh told Variety in a statement. “I was excited to join the show and did so under the impression that it was not a WGA show and fell under a different agreement. This morning when I was informed by my union, the WGA, that it is considered struck work I walked out of my rehearsal.”
“I have been and will always stand with my union members of the WGA, SAG and DGA,” Walsh continued. “Beyond our union artists, I am sensitive to the many people impacted by the strike and I hope for a speedy and fair resolution, and to one day work again with all the wonderful people I met at DWTS who tolerated my dancing.”
Following Walsh’s decision, the SAG-AFTRA put out a statement of their own, with quite a different sentiment. In their statement, the actors’ guild explained that actors on the dancing competition show would be under the Network Code agreement, a 2022 agreement that covers most daytime TV, award shows and late-night shows.
“Our members appearing on Dancing With the Stars are working under the Network Code agreement, which is a non-struck contract,” a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson told Variety. “They are required to go to work, are not in violation of SAG-AFTRA strike rules, and we support them in fulfilling their contractual obligations.” In other words, actors would be in agreement with their own union by participating but wouldn’t be in solidarity with their partner union, the WGA.
“The program is a SAG-AFTRA non-dramatic production under a separate agreement that is not subject to the union’s strike order,” the statement continued. “The majority of our members on Dancing With the Stars had contractual obligations to the show prior to the strike. Many are under option agreements that require them to return to the show if the producer exercises their option which the producer has done.”
Of course, given how the WGA and the SAG-AFTRA statements were starkly different, the future of the show is still uncertain. Will other actors drop out in solidarity? Will they continue with the original premiere date? Per Variety, ABC is already putting plans in place to postpone it, but no official decision has been shared just yet. We’ll have to stay tuned for the next chapters!
Before you go, click here to see all the celebrities who supported the SAG-AFTRA & WGA strikes.
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