Not since the Writers Guild of America strike in 1988, which lasted for 22 weeks, has the fall TV schedule looked so bleak. Because of the Coronavirus, many productions have been shut down for many months. Some shows that usually air during the summer, like American Ninja Warrior, have been pushed back to air in September and others like America’s Got Talent, had to be clever on how they continued by keeping social distancing in place. Many of the scripted series scheduled to premiere in the fall have been pushed back to “who knows when” and are waiting for when they can begin shooting once again.
One of the fall shows that IS starting on time in ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, although it is not clear how it will be presented since it usually airs with a ballroom packed with people. The show’s stars are usually brought onto the set of Good Morning America to make the announcement about who will be appearing during the upcoming season. That didn’t happen during this morning’s announcement.
One of DWTS’ biggest changes for the show has nothing to do with the current pandemic. It was the firing of longtime hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews, both who said that it came as a surprise, and replacing them with Tyra Banks who is also serving as the series’ executive producer. ABC is taking a huge chance on the former America’s Next Top Model host and creator in hopes of restoring high ratings. They appear to be putting all of their eggs in one basket. One promotional poster for the show only shows a close of Banks’ face with her lips looking like a mirrored ball. Nothing against Banks’, but I think most people turn into the show for the dancers and stars first and quite a few viewers said that they will not be viewing the show without Bergeron and Andrews.
The network also promises that the show will feature some other new changes, but besides the host, ABC hasn’t stated what those changes will be. Inviting bigger stars to the ballroom doesn’t seem to one of them. This year’s most attention-getting “star” Carole Baskin, who became a household name when she appeared in the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness. She is the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue, an accredited rescue facility for exotic cats. Oh, and she is rumored to have killed her former husband and fed him to some of those cats. Her appearance alone just might give the show the ratings boost they are looking for.
The show is probably relying on Johnny Weir, the over-the-top and flamboyant former Olympic figure skater. His self-promotion and antics aside, he will probably do very well in the competition since he’s in shape and already knows how to compete. Since his skating days, he has made appearances performing commentary duties for the last winter Olympics and Food Network’s Wedding Cake Championship.
Other celebrities coming to the show this season include:
- Monica Aldama (the head coach featured on Netflix’s docuseries CHEER)
- Former “Bachelorette” Kaitlyn Bristowe
- Super Bowl Champion Vernon Davis
- TV and film actress Anne Heche
- Disney Channel actress Skai Jackson
- One Day at a Time star Justina Machado
- Backstreet Boys singer AJ McLean
- Holey Moley sideline correspondent on Jeannie Mai
- TV and film actor Jesse Metcalfe (who appeared in God’s Not Dead 2)
- Rapper Nelly
- Nev Schulman (a host for MTV’s Catfish)
- NBA superstar Charles Oakley
- Actress Chrishell Stause
This season’s list of professional dancers include Brandon Armstrong, Alan Bersten, Sharna Burges, Cheryl Burke, Artem Chigvintsev, Val Chmerkovskiy, Sasha Farber, Jenna Johnson, Daniella Karagach, Keo Motsepe, Peta Murgatroyd, Pasha Pashkov, Gleb Savchenko, Emma Slater and Britt Stewart. You’ll need to turn in to the premiere to see who will be dancing with whom.
As always, all three of the resident ballroom experts (Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli) will be on hand to serve as judges but Goodman will appear in a different way. ABC has stated that in light of current circumstances, Goodman will be sharing his ballroom expertise from the UK. That has has left a spot open for former DWTS star, Derek Hough to join the judges’ table.
Derek Hough said on his return, “This show has been and will always be incredibly special to me. Coming back feels like coming home and I couldn’t be more excited to be back in the ballroom.”
Hough’s sister, Julianne has also served as a judge of the show in previous seasons. Derek has also served as a judge for NBC’s World of Dance.
Dancing with the Stars premiers on September 14 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.