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February 3, 2014IM -
After 17 hit seasons performing on one of the world’s most popular TV programs, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), the 28 men and women of the show’s live backing band—the Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers—have been fired. Producers of the show say the group will be replaced with pre-existing sound recordings and a “small electric band” to “attract a younger demographic.”
AFM International President Ray Hair blasted ABC-TV for its decision, asking supporters to e-mail Candice.a.ashton@abc.
Network sources say that a recent shift in ABC/Disney’s executive staff in charge of primetime reality series programming led to pressure on DWTS producer BBC Worldwide Productions to cut corners and pander to a younger viewing audience. “It’s not like ABC and Disney don’t have any money and can’t afford an orchestra. It’s about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it,” says Hair. “Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won’t boost ratings. It will kill the show.”