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Dancing with the Stars premiere going forward as planned after WGA strike ends

ABC confirms season 32 will begin Tuesday September 26

Julianne Hough and Alfonso Ribiera© Art Streiber
Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca Lewis - Los Angeles
Los Angeles correspondentLos Angeles
Updated: September 25, 2023
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Dancing with the Stars' big season 32 return is all set and on schedule, ABC confirmed on Monday. While the popular reality dance competition had been in limbo, with the network mulling a postponement of the premiere due to the WGA strike, Sunday's resolution of negotiations means all systems go. 

The premiere will now take place on September 26 at 8pm EST on the network and live on Disney+.  Late last week,  reports alleged that executives were looking into alternate temporary programming and planning a new rollout.

DWTS’ celebrity cast, particularly actors and SAG-AFTRA members Matt Walsh, Alyson Hannigan and Mira Sorvino, had come under pressure from striking members, with picket signs outside rehearsal studios berating them for their participation.

Alfonso Ribeiro and Julianne Hough © Art Streiber
Alfonso Ribeiro and Julianne Hough would have been hosting unscripted

Before the the strike has been resolved, Veep actor Matt had stepped down from his appearance on the show, acknowledging that he was "excited to join the show and did so under the impression that it was not a WGA show and fell under a different agreement". 

"This morning when I was informed by my union, the WGA, that it is considered struck work I walked out of my rehearsal. I have been and will always stand with my union members of the WGA, SAG and DGA. Beyond our union artists, I am sensitive to the many people impacted by the strike and I hope for a speedy and fair resolution, and to one day work again with all the wonderful people I met at ‘DWTS’ who tolerated my dancing," he said.  Matt has not yet announced if he'll resume the show as planned in light of Sunday's resolution. 

The Writers Guild strike last for five months and concerned, among other things, the use of AI and staffing in writers' rooms. "The WGA and AMPTPT have reached a tentative agreement,” declared both entities in a collective statement, while the WBA told its members: "We have reached a tentative agreement on a new 2023 MBA, which is to say an agreement in principle on all deal points, subject to drafting final contract language."

Dancing with the Star's professional Koko Iwasaki with her celebrity partner Matt Walsh© Andrew Eccles
Dancing with the Star's professional Koko Iwasaki with her celebrity partner Matt Walsh

Shows such as DWTS are covered under the SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, which allows it to air during the strike. It is separate from the film and TV collective bargaining agreement which is currently being negotiated between SAG and Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), and which has been ongoing for some time now. 

However, it is the WGA connection that had put the show in the hot seat; the series employs a guild writer for the show, to help with hosts Julianne Hough and Alfonso Ribiera.  

Celebrity dancers for this year include Alyson Hannigan from How I Met Your Mother, Ariana Madix from Vanderpump Rules and Tom "Scandoval" fame, comedian Lele Pons, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards' husband Mauricio Umansky, Britney Spears' sister Jamie Lynn Spears, Brady Bunch alum Barry Williams, reality star Harry Jowsey, and more.

HELLO! has reached out to show reps for comment.

Why are actors going on strike?

SAG-AFTRA member voted to strike on July 13 2023. 

In 2022 it was reported that the average hourly pay for a California actor was $27.73 per hour. But many working actors do not work Monday-Friday 9am - 5pm jobs, and 86% of the 160,000 strong guild do not make more than $25,950 in covered earnings (money that contributes towards social security) per year, and therefore do not qualify for healthcare insurance.

Actors also receive financial compensations when their TV shows are syndicated, rerun, have a DVD release or enjoy a move to streaming services. The calculation is complex and can change depending on initial contract, length of time an actor has had guild membership, and the type of production. As an example the Friends cast – Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, and Matthew Perry – receive 2% of the syndication revenue for their hit WB show, meaning their annually bring in around $20million each. But as streaming services such as Netflix continue to refuse to share ratings, it makes it unclear how often content is played and it lowers an actor's residual calculation. 

The SAG and Writers Guild of America members are also both fighting AMPTP over protections for their work against Artificial Intelligence, and fears that technology would replace humans.

The decision to postpone the show comes as the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) continues to refuse to negotiate in good faith with the Writer's Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild.

As well as impacting  shows such as Dancing with the Stars,  the traditional model of network dramas returning to screens each September has also been affected.

Due to the strikes many assumed that we would instead be looking at Spring 2024 premiere dates and a shortened 13-order season for TV's most popular series. However, with the strikes now heading into the fifth month for the WGA, and third for SAG, it's becoming clear that there may not even be scope for a shorter season, and that many networks will push the release of new seasons back to September 2024. 

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