‘Dancing With the Stars’ Keeping Plans in Place to Premiere Next Week Amid Calls From WGA

Amid calls from the Writers Guild of America to push back its premiere during the ongoing writers strike, “Dancing With the Stars” is staying on track with plans to premiere a new season next week, Variety has learned.

“Dancing With the Stars” employs a crew of 500 people, and has one WGA writer on staff.

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Sources close to production tell Variety that the show will be working in compliance with SAG-AFTRA rules, and a key focus is not to put talent in a tough spot, given that many Season 32 cast members are part of SAG-AFTRA. Another major key consideration was ensuring that the large staff would not be out of work. ABC declined to comment.

“Everyone’s focus is to keep 500 people employed,” a production source tells Variety. This individual says that the WGA writer will be back at work as soon as the strike comes to an end.

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 re-hired its writer once the strike was over.

SAG-AFTRA rules will be followed to avoid putting any talent in a difficult situation, sources say. The Season 32 cast includes multiple 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 video packages within episodes that showcase cast member’s past TV and film projects. Under current strike rules, former SAG-AFTRA projects cannot be promoted or discussed, which could make “DWTS” packages tricky — but a source confirms that this season will not include any footage from past shows or movies, in order to comply with union rules. (For instance, don’t expect to see “Brady Bunch” flashbacks when introducing Williams for his rumba, or don’t expect Hannigan to discuss her time slaying vampires on “Buffy,” while slaying on the dance floor.)

“Dancing With the Stars” has recently become subject to online chatter among WGA members on social media. Over the weekend — as news broke that the “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “The Talk” and “The Jennifer Hudson Show” backtracked on plans to return during the strike — WGA members called out “Dancing With the Stars,” noting that it is a WGA-covered show, meaning a WGA-represented writer is on staff. WGA member David Slack’s tweet went viral, stating that “Dancing with the Stars is a WGA-covered show. Its writers are on strike, and they can’t make the show without scab writing. Another writer called the show, “Dancing With the Scabs.”

After a month of stalled 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.

Variety has reached out to a WGA spokesperson for comment.

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