Friday, April 25, 2014

The “Dancing with the Stars” Firings: What is going on?

February has been a busy month behind the scenes for Dancing with the Stars.  Before the celebrities and dancers have even been announced, on February 3, the Harold Wheeler Band, the orchestra who has done the live music since the beginning of the show, was suddenly let go: (http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/02/03/dancing-with-the-stars-harold-wheeler-band/). As if that wasn’t as big a shock, last week on February 22nd, Brook Burke-Charvet was fired from her job as co-host, which she’d done since season ten (http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/02/22/brooke-burke-charvet-leaving-dancing-with-the-stars/).  And almost just as quickly, news has come out about who is replacing the band and the co-host.  The network hired Ray Chew as the new band director (http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/dancing-stars-taps-new-music-678238), and People reports that Erin Andrews is the new co-host (http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/02/23/dancing-with-the-stars-erin-andrews-will-replace-brooke-burke-charvet/).  What does all this mean?  Why would the network mess with an orchestra that has been there since the beginning of the show, and fire a co-host who has been there for the past seven seasons?  Well, I can think of a couple reasons…

The first reason is to keep the show fresh and interesting.  It’s no secret that the show has faced declining rating the most recent seasons (http://www.today.com/entertainment/can-dancing-stars-save-series-going-extremes-8C11148898).  Last season, the biggest thing that the show did was move from two nights to one, with the exception of the finale.  This was to make room for other content on Tuesdays to liven up the ratings.  On the other hand, nobody on the show was fired.  But since the show can’t reduce its size anymore, the only thing it can do is chance the show from within.  Giving the show a new band and band leader, along with a new co-host, will bring the show in the news again.  But the impression might be that the show is desperate.  Why change a thing when ratings are good?  (Hence seventeen seasons of the Harold Wheeler Band).  And while Brook Burke-Charvet was not the first co-host (Lisa Channing and Samantha Harris hosted season 1, and seasons 2-9, respectively), seeing the move come after the firing of the Harold Wheeler band makes it look more desperate than simply “the show is moving in a new direction.”  But the impression it is supposed to give is that there is a new band bringing the music, there is a new hot co-host to watch.  Tune in for the first time if you can.  That is the impression they want to give, anyway.

Another reason might be is money.  Many, many TV shows have nearly come to a halt with contract negations over pay.  While there have been no reports of such on Dancing with the Stars, nevertheless, contracts grow as people stay longer at a particular job.  People get paid more for staying longer.  A new band and band leader, with the opportunity of national exposure, would jump at the chance to appear on the show.  I have no idea what the offered pay might be, but it’s probably good but not as much as the exiting band.  Same with the new co-host: Erin Andrews is offered to be a co-host on a national TV show.  She could be offered the same amount that Brook Burke-Charvet was offered when she started in season ten, which most certainly was not the same as what she was paid last season.  So the network fires the band and the co-host and hires new ones to save money, because it costs less to hire someone new than to keep the old ones. 


Either way, the show has lost something which appealed to me the previous seasons.  I will give my personal opinion here: I do think the Harold Wheeler band was great for the show and I do think that Brook Burke Charvet was a great co-host.  While of course they weren’t the primary reason I watched the show, they were still an element I liked and felt worked.  I will say this: I must admit, having now seen the new show with the new co-host and the new band and band leader, I have to say that both new parts of the show are quite good.  But I will nevertheless miss the elements of the show that I had grown to know and love.

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