What a rollercoaster day for Dancing With the Stars.
Thursday kicked off with news that ABC executives were considering delaying the Sept. 26 start of the new season after striking writers started picketing the production in reason days. Then came word that Veep actor Matt Walsh, one of the stars set to compete on season 32, decided to “pause” his involvement with the show “until an agreement is made with the [Writers Guild of America].” He elaborated on that decision by posting on Instagram, “I 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.”
Hours later, SAG-AFTRA issued a statement clarifying that its members who are working on Dancing With the Stars — actors like Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, How I Met Your Mother star Alyson Hannigan, Xochitl Gomez and Jamie Lynn Spears, among others — are not afoul of its strike rules. “Our members appearing on Dancing With the Stars are working under the Network Code agreement, which is a non-struck contract. They are required to go to work, are not in violation of SAG-AFTRA strike rules, and we support them in fulfilling their contractual obligations,” the union issued in a statement.
Hours after that, DWTS pro Gleb Savchencko had slipped into a tuxedo to appear at the Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS at the Beverly Hills Hotel where he was due to offer up a dancing lesson as part of the event’s live auction. Before he did that, however, he attempted to wrap his head around the back-and-forth and the possible delayed start.
“I mean, it’s crazy,” he said. “This whole thing has been going on for the last couple of days, actually. I’m [a member] of SAG and SAG supports it because we’re an unscripted reality competition television show, so we are good to go. We don’t have any WGA writers; it’s not a written show. We’re never given a script or told what to say or what to do. So I am kind of shocked that one little tweet can stir up so much stuff.”
Savchenko was referring to the below tweet from TV writer and producer David Slack, who noted that DWTS “is a WGA-covered show. Its writers are on strike, and they can’t make the show without scab writing.”
Savchenko said he hopes that ABC bosses can figure out a resolution because even without Walsh, “it’s just going to be unfair to a lot of people because it’s not just Matt who is an actor and represents that world, it’s also my partner, Mira Sorvino.” He added, “I just hope that before the premiere, which is literally in four days, we can figure it out because we have a lot of actors on the cast for this season.”
The veteran cast member also said that Sorvino, a union supporter, is in a difficult situation. “She’s very supportive, but at the same time, she is supportive of all the other people who are on strike. She’s in a very difficult situation whether to continue on, which legally she’s allowed to. She’s not breaking any rules. But I really hope, and we’re all praying that they’re going to figure it out, and we’re going to continue on Tuesday.”
DWTS is scheduled to land with a two-and-a-half-hour premiere on Sept. 26 on ABC and simulcast on Disney+. The new season marks a return to ABC after an exclusive showing on Disney+ last season.