After Drew Barrymore, Bill Maher, Jennifer Hudson and The Talk changed course on the premieres of their talk shows, some WGA members are now focused on Dancing with the Stars and wondering why the dance competition is scheduled to return to ABC on September 26th progresses.
Picketers like David Slack have used X to remind fellow union members that DWTS is a WGA show, although most of the jokes are improvised and based on what just happened on the dance floor. A source close to production told Deadline that there is typically only one WGA writer working on the show, which otherwise employs 500 people. Even then, according to the source, the author provided talking points for moderator Alfonso Ribeiro.
DWTS also aired during the 2007-08 writers’ strike and was not protested.
That didn’t stop Slack from posting on…Writers have been on strike for 139 days and counting. Most shows are closed. By giving the studios a show written by scabs, the strike lasts longer and all other crew members in Hollywood are out of work… I know you are all under contract and this is a difficult situation. But if Drew Barrymore can do the right thing alone, I hope you can do it together and in solidarity.”
Union member Bill Wolkoff on The DWTS live taping takes place at CBS TV City. We will have a BIG week on our property demonstrating striking WGA shows that have decided to return. This will prolong the strike! Spread the word #DWTSISWGA.”
Many of the new contestants — including Veep’s Matt Walsh (who is also a WGA member), How I Met Your Mother’s Alyson Hannigan and Vanderpump Rules’ Ariana Madix — were tagged in the X-posts. The show’s most prominent participant, Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, was even directly asked on social media whether her participation violated the strike rules.
The actress replied, “No, we are allowed to do reality shows, unscripted shows, competition shows or documentaries. It’s a different contract.”
She’s right: Variety shows like DWTS fall under the SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, more commonly known as the Network Code. It is an independent film and television collective bargaining agreement negotiated by SAG-AFTRA and AMPTP and is between the guild and the Big 4 broadcast networks and other producers. The same rule applies that applies to daytime soaps and morning shows.
SAG has also signed the new season of DWTS. That means ABC can carry on just like Celebrity Jeopardy! and Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, which are the linchpins of the fall program.
At least one former pro thinks DWTS should remain in the dark until a resolution is found. While promoting her new podcast Sex, Lies and Spray Tans, Cheryl Burke told Variety that the show is meant to be “sticky.” I think we have to stand together as one. We really need to unite and not just say we are united.” Burke left the series in November after 26 seasons.
“I have mixed feelings about the Drew Barrymore thing,” Burke said. “Even during the pandemic, people can say, ‘Why would you do that?'” When talking about the entertainment industry, it’s a touchy subject. For things to change, we have to stick strictly together, because if a show just decides to think about the show alone, it won’t bring about any big changes. It’s not going to change the mindset of these other people – the opposing team. At the end of the day, we must stick together because that is the only way we will ever make significant change. Even the cast of Friends stuck together when they asked for more money. The problem is that if we don’t do that, we’re setting a precedent and I don’t think that’s going to be good for the show in the long run, to be completely honest. I understand what they are thinking and I get it. It’s a business, but there’s no business without the rest of the business.”