Host and executive producer Tyra Banks spoke with reporters on Friday (Sept 4) regarding the upcoming season of Dancing with the Stars. Additionally, pros Cheryl Burke and Artem Chigvintsev shared details with reporters. Here are the big takeaways.
Len Goodman may have to sit out the season after all
Although Carrie Ann Inaba and Good Morning America both seemed to confirm that head judge Len Goodman would return to the panel, it seems that ABC is still working through complications caused by Covid-19 restrictions. Len previously said the Covid-19 restrictions may keep him in the UK this season.
“I know that we’re trying to figure out how to incorporate Len in this season because of the travel restrictions right now. There are some challenges, but we’re trying to figure that out,” Tyra told reporters. Hm. And in the same breath Tyra gushes that she’s excited for Derek Hough returning to the show.
GMA will reveal his role on Tuesday (Sept 8). Now I’m thinking Derek will guest judge for Len just like his sister Julianne did a few years ago. Tyra calls Derek “Dancing with the Stars royalty” and added “He started with the show as a pro and has made it really big. So for him to be coming back is honoring his roots and the fans are going to be crazy excited.”
Yup. ABC hired Tara hooping to attract a younger audience
Earlier I speculated that ABC hired Tyra in order to bring in a younger audience, which Tyra more or less confirms in the interview. She insists that she doesn’t plan to bring a “sledgehammer” to the show. “It’s not like I’m coming in and saying, Oh, everything has to change,” Tyra insisted. She calls current executive producer, Andrew Llinares a “heavy Lifter” adding that her role as executive producer is to “add pixie dust” and “show a lot of deference to him, with him being there before I was.” Her role is “rejuvenation.” Like a face cream! “some things that we’re adding to kind of spice it up,” she said. “but by no means, am I coming in with a sledgehammer.”
And here is where Tyra reveals exactly why ABC brought her on board: “We are just making sure that we’re discovering new things that we can do to bring the young audience to this, to bring my audience to this, for them to connect with the existing audience and bring a lot of new people. I see on social, a lot of people are like, Well, I’m going to watch now. I want to see what she’s going to bring to it.” Also, just for the record, Tyra had no role in casting the show.
Did Tyra reach out to former hosts Tom Bergeron or Erin Andrews for advice? NOPE.
Longtime hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews were fired to make way for Tyra. When asked if she reached out to them for advice, here’s how she answered: “I’ll start with my ability at hosting, especially hosting live TV. It’s one of the hardest things in the world. The people don’t know it at home, but you’ve got directors in your ear, there are so many things. You have somebody talking and they’re running on and going on and you have a director in your ear saying, Cut him off, cut him off, go to commercial. Hosting another one of the largest TV shows that was live — AGT. No problem. Live TV hosting, that’s just in my bones.” In other words: Consultation unnecessary.
Tara then shared how she tried to reply to one of Tom’s tweets, where he joked “I guess I won’t be getting back my monogrammed towels.” She had a conciliatory tweet all lined up. But when the tweet failed (she found out later Twitter had an outage) Tara was paranoid that Tom might have blocked her (!!!).
Tara is “super-excited” for theme nights
What to look for in the coming season: Tyra is “super excited” about theme nights. “That’s one of the things that executive producer, Andrew Llinares, and I have spoken about at length and kind of analyze a very long list of fun themes and us narrowing it down to the four that you will see. I can’t give it all away.” But of course, there WILL be a Disney theme night. She promises that “the other ones will be very exciting.”
The new ballroom set is “very fancy”
Artem told Entertainment Tonight: “All I can say is, it’s a new stage. Very bright, very fancy, a lot of LED screens and there’s definitely going to be a different feel, for sure,” he teased. “We kind of have to co-exist with what’s happening in the world [with the coronavirus] so they have to restructure the stage to make it top-notch. So it’s gonna be a whole new stage, a very surprising stage. I think it will surprise a lot of people.”
Covid-19 protocols will be in place
As far as Covid-19 safety precautions are concerned: The dancers will perform in the ballroom, but there will be no studio audience. There are three sets of married pro-dancers, and they will have to quarantine apart from each other through the entire shooting of the show. That means, “they will not be interacting with each other, not living with each other, not within a certain amount of feet with each other during the entire time we’re shooting,” said Tyra. However, according to a recent interview from Access Hollywood with pro Cheryl Burke, married/coupled pros can go home to their significant others. In other words, it’s not a total lockdown for every dancer. That makes me wonder if casting 3 sets of married pros and keeping them apart is nothing more than a gimmick.
When Tyra was asked if she’d be separated from her boyfriend, she totally dodged the question, “I don’t talk about my personal life too much, but the reason why the couples have to be separated is that when you’re dancing with a partner it’s very intimate.” Uh. Going home to a lover is also very intimate. “I’m not a COVID specialist, but you understand, it’s kind of obvious. You need to protect that pod of dancers. So every celeb and pro dancer are considered a pod and we have to keep them separate.” Ok, then.
No masks during performances, robotic cameras in the rehearsal rooms
The dancers will not wear masks during performances, but otherwise, social distancing is taken seriously. Also, the show is testing the dancers for Covid-19 every day, said Cheryl. Artem described the rehearsal rooms, outfitted with robotic cameras. “We’ll have to follow all the [COVID-19 safety] protocols, so I heard in the rehearsal room there’s going to be pre-set cameras,” he added. “It’s going to be, like, no people besides the dancer and the celebrity.”
Cheryl also revealed that Tyra is bringing in a photographer, so expect the publicity stills to up the glam factor.
The extensive Tyra Banks quotes come from Kirstyn Burtt’s transcription. Tons of outlets have covered the presser. But Kirstyn has all the words! Read it HERE.