Cheryl Burke calls out DWTS for continuing during strikes

It’s been a busy week on the talk shows attempting to violate strike rules front. After failing to sell the arguments of “my show employs way more people than just the writers and that’s why we need to break WGA rules, but don’t worry we’re in complete compliance with unrelated SAG-AFTRA rules,” both Bill Maher and Drew Barrymore relented and halted production on their respective shows. The Talk and Jennifer Hudson followed Drew, all three being CBS properties. Notably not stopping production is ABC’s The View, despite having two WGA writers on strike and the union directing members to picket the studio. Another ABC program moving forward this fall? Dancing With the Stars. Because we simply can’t wait to see this show’s… 32nd Season. People on the interwebs are now dubbing it Dancing With the Scabs and Scabbing With the Stars. Now for my attempt, please enjoy some spokespeople performing the Scab Shuffle:

DWTS says the 500 crew outweigh the one WGA writer on staff: Amid calls from the Writers Guild of America to push back its premiere during 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 has learned. “Dancing With the Stars” employs a crew of 500 people, and has one WGA writer on staff… “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.

Again with the SAG-AFTRA-compliant distraction: 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 the actors’ guild. Another major key consideration was ensuring that the large staff would not be out of work, insiders added. ABC declined to comment… SAG-AFTRA rules mean that talent are still allowed to appear, as “Dancing With the Stars” participation falls under the Network Code agreement that isn’t a part of the current strike. 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.

The last sentence of this paragraph alone proves why they need writers: “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, and Hannigan won’t discuss her time slaying vampires on “Buffy,” while slaying on the dance floor.)

Former pro Cheryl Burke is not buying it: On Monday morning, former series pro Cheryl Burke told Variety that she felt “Dancing With the Stars” should pause until the strikes finished. “At the end of the day, we have to stick together because that’s the only way to ever make any significant change,” she said. “I don’t think it’s gonna be good for the show, to be quite honest, in the long run. I understand what they’re thinking and I get it. It’s a business, but there is no business without the rest of the business… I think they should hold tight. I think we need to stand as one. We need to unite for real and not just say we’re united.”

[From Variety]

10s across the board for Cheryl! She gets it. Solidarity is what makes the strikes work, and when the numbers are 500 to 1 it puts even more heat on the studios. Given that this is ABC/Disney+, though, I’m not surprised they’re trying to get away with it. The Mouse must have his money. But I also did not think at all that Bill Maher would bend, and here we are. DWTS is scheduled to premiere on Sept. 26 — let’s see if they hold out.

Photos credit: Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Avalon, Michael Simon/ and via Instagram

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