Dancing with the Stars premieres on Monday September 14, but it’s going to look and feel different, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to keep the cast and crew safe, strict protocols will be in place throughout the 11 week season.
“This [show] definitely presented a unique challenge,” ABC alternative chief, Rob Mills told Deadline. “It’s not wrong to compare it to a sporting event, just as we’ve seen the NBA and Major League Baseball, it looks different but also the same.”
Here are the Covid-19 related changes to expect this season.
- The 15 celebrities cast for the show have relocated to Los Angeles for the entire season to avoid travel.
- The judges’ desk will be widened to maintain eight feet between each judge and dancers will be asked to stand at a distance of at least eight feet from the judges during the judging process.
- The rehearsal dance studio has been equipped with remote cameras rather than in person camera crews as in previous seasons.
- There will be no studio audience for the show, which will still be produced and aired live.
- NO band. Poor Ray Chew!
- NO backup dancers.
- NO big set pieces. There will be no dance routines with “cars or castles” in order to cut down on crew members.
- Producers BBC redesigned the studio (see above) Executive producer Andrew Llinares told Deadline, “What we didn’t want to have in the ballroom was loads of empty seats, we wanted it to look like there was a purpose to it so we’re redesigning the ballroom. We’re going to put in some extra screens, it’s going to look like the show was always designed to look this way.”
- The sky lounge where former former host Erin Andrews interviewed couples has been removed from the set. Couples will watch fellow dancers from a second floor balcony while practicing social distancing.
- Celebrities and pro dancers will be tested five times a week. “The central premise of the show is two people who are in very close proximity with each other. They as a couple on the show will stay as a pod – they won’t come in to contact with the other couples to the point that we’ve got three sets of married pro dancers and they will be living separately for as long as they’re in the competition,” Llinares added. (Married celebrities and Pros will be allowed to go home to their spouses, however).
Derek Hough in, Len Goodman out (mostly)
World of Dance judge Derek Hough, a former professional dancer on the show, will join the judges panel in place of Len Goodman who is stranded in London due to the Covid-19 travel ban. Len will participate in some way remotely from across the pond.
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“I think we’ll get more focus on the couples because of it and that could be really refreshing,” said Llinares. “Over the years, it’s evolved and layers and layers of extra production and staging have been added on and I think we’ll get back to what the show was in the beginning,” he said.