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Dancing With The Stars is the latest show to get backlash for returning amid strike

Writers will picket Dancing With The Stars, which is technically a WGA-covered series

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Dancing With The Stars gets backlash from WGA
Alfonso RIbero and Julianne Hough
Photo: ABC/Art Streiber

As several prominent talk show hosts have walked back their decisions to move forward with fall premieres, scrutiny has turned to the shows that remain. Some of the reality and talk shows still on the air fall outside the jurisdiction of the writers and actors’ guilds. Surprisingly, Dancing With The Stars isn’t one of them: the competition series employs at least one WGA writer, and so the guild is planning to picket the program—with many members vocally protesting the series’ decision to continue.

From the inside, per Variety, “Everyone’s focus is to keep 500 people employed,” according to a production source. That’s apparently weighed against the sole WGA writer said to be on staff, who will supposedly be re-hired after the strike ends. (The same thing reportedly happened in the ’07-’08 strike.) Meanwhile, the production is reportedly being cautious about not violating the SAG-AFTRA strike and will avoid promoting any of its contestants’ past work. Contestant and SAG-AFTRA member Mira Sorvino clarified on Twitter/X that “we are allowed to do reality / unscripted /competition or documentary shows. It’s a different contract.”


That hasn’t stopped guild members from calling upon Sorvino and her fellow contestants, as well as hosts Julianne Hough and Alfonso Ribeiro, to respect the picket line. “Dancing with the Stars is a WGA-covered show. Its writers are on strike, and they can’t make the show without scab writing,” David Slack (Lie To Me) posted on social media. “By appearing on a WGA-covered show using scab writing, anyone appearing on Dancing With the Stars will be emboldening the AMPTP to refuse to make deals while they wait to see if scab writing works.”

“One of the stars, [Matt Walsh], who is one of my idols, is in a really tough bind. He’s a WGA writer too. So he must cross our picket line as a member to go to work. Again he probably doesn’t even know that! Most people think reality shows aren’t WGA, but #DWTSisWGA,” writer Bill Wolkoff (Kipo And The Age Of The Wonderbeasts) posted on X/Twitter. “I am genuinely not trying to shame him or anyone here. The live show hasn’t taped yet, and they all have a chance to do the right thing and honor WGA picket lines.” He added, “Remember these contracts are written for the purpose of suppressing labor. Can’t stress enough how difficult it will be for the stars on DWTS to face this choice. They could be sued for doing the right thing and honoring our picket line. I still think they should b/c #DWTSisWGA.”


Some of those SAG-AFTRA members have tried to make lemonade out of lemons: “I have this unique opportunity where I was offered a chance to work when my community cannot work,” said new contestant Jamie Lynn Spears on Good Morning America (via Variety). “I figured I’ll do this and I will donate my weekly salary to SAG, WGA and just give back to them at a time where they can’t even give to themselves.”

On the other hand, former DWTS pro Cheryl Burke (who appeared on 25 seasons of the series) voiced her opinion that the show should be shut down. “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 to Variety in part. “Even the cast of Friends, when they asked for more money, they all stuck together. The problem is that if we don’t, then we’re setting a precedent, and 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.”

Speaking generally of the WGA shows—even ones with few writers—still moving forward amid the strike, writer Sean Crespo explained to Rolling Stone where the opposition comes from: “These shows staying on the air is going to prolong the strike. It gives a little bit of extra wiggle room to the AMPTP and dilutes the message the guilds are out there trying to send, which is [that] there should be a full work stoppage until fair terms are negotiated.”

The View, which typically employs two WGA writers, has also continued through the strike and has been subjected to picket lines. “It’s incredibly frustrating to see our work and our labor devalued so much, and effectively hidden,” WGA East council member Sasha Stewart told Rolling Stone of that show’s return. “I don’t know who they’re having do all the work, but somebody has to do it.”