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Over the course of Dancing With The Stars’ first seventeen seasons, Harold Wheeler and the twenty-eight members of his live backing band cranked out plenty of brilliant renditions of classic tracks. To some music fans, they were a key ingredient to the show’s success, but apparently, producers of the hit show feel differently. Every member of the orchestra including poor seventy-year-old Harold was given a pink slip this week and told their services would no longer be needed.
At this point, the reason behind the mass firing is a bit unclear, or at least, it’s hotly debated. Executives from Disney/ ABC would have you believe the show simply wanted to move in a different direction. It wanted to start appealing to a younger demographic, and it wanted to use more contemporary music that’s harder for a full orchestra to replicate. The American Federation Of Music has a different perspective, however. The union representing the orchestra claims the firings were profit-driven and amount to “artistic fraud.”
Here’s a portion of the official statement from union president Ray Hair, courtesy of US Magazine…
"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. Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won't boost ratings. It will kill the show."
That Dancing With The Stars skews heavily toward an older demographic is less of an opinion and more of a fact. The reality dancing competition always does very well in total viewers and leaves something to be desired in the key demographics. That being said, it’s hard to imagine this music change will turn the show’s fortunes around. It’s very hard to change the reputation of a program in its eighteenth season, and at this point, there aren’t a whole lot of college students and mid twenty-somethings eagerly waiting to give the show a chance.
To replace the music they’ll lose with the orchestra, the show is reportedly planning to bring in a very small electric band. That, in combination with pre-recorded backing tracks will apparently be enough to supplement the dancing. That’s probably true on a factual level. It’s even possible the slight change in direction will please some younger fans, but there’s no denying DWTS will lose a bit of its classy vibe without the orchestra.
You can check out the amazing intro to last season of Dancing With The Stars below…