Season 32’s celebrity contestants won’t be violating SAG-AFTRA strike protocols by appearing on the ABC variety series — but they will be crossing a different picket line.
Published on September 20, 2023
Dancing With the Stars is set to premiere its 32nd season next week — but not if striking writers have anything to say about it.
Fresh off successfully pressuring talk shows like The Drew Barrymore Show, The Talk, The Jennifer Hudson Show, and Real Time With Bill Maher to reverse their planned returns to air this fall, the Writers Guild of America has been picketing outside rehearsals for the new season of DWTS, as reported by Deadline.
DWTS is considered a struck show by the WGA, and “the Guild has picketed and will continue to picket struck shows that are in production during the strike,” a spokesperson for the guild tells EW.
Representatives for ABC, which airs DWTS, didn’t immediately respond to EW’s request for comment Wednesday.
Many of the celebrities who appear on Dancing With the Stars are members of SAG-AFTRA — this season’s contestants include Matt Walsh (Veep), Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and Oscar winner Mira Sorvino — but the actors’ union is not picketing the show like the WGA.
As Sorvino explained on social media, that’s because reality shows like DWTS operate under a different contract with SAG-AFTRA than the film and TV agreement currently being renegotiated between the guilds and studios.
However, SAG-AFTRA isn’t the only Hollywood union on strike right now, and DWTS does typically employ at least one WGA writer to develop talking points for the hosts. (Season 32 is being hosted by Alfonso Ribeiro and Julianne Hough.) Doing similar writing this season would therefore involve “scab” labor as long as the strike lasts. WGA members maintain that allowing such a show to return to air uncontested will only prolong the strike, just as representatives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers returned to the negotiating table with the WGA on Wednesday.
“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,” picketing writer David Slack wrote on social media.
For now, DWTS season 32 is still set to launch Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Though celebrity contestants won’t be breaking SAG-AFTRA rules, it looks like they’ll have to cross a picket line in order to appear on the show.