The new series of Dancing with the Stars has been thrown into question after a contestant decided to delay their appearance due to the ongoing strikes.
ABC is facing pressure from the Writers’ Guild of America (WGA), who have been striking alongside actors for fairer compensation since June 2023, to postpone production of the dancing competition until a deal is reached.
Contestant Matt Walsh, the actor who starred in Armando Iannucci’s HBO comedy Veep, might have just forced the network’s hand by announcing he would not participate if the show airs while the strikes continue.
Responding to pressure from picketers who have been protesting the show outside rehearsal studios, Walsh revealed that he “walked out”, claiming that he did not realise Dancing with the Stars “is considered struck work”.
He wrote: “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.”
While Dancing with the Stars is covered under SAG-AFTRA’s National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, the series employs a member of the WGA to help formulate the sctipts for hosts Julianne Hough and Alfonso Ribiera.
To get around this, the hosts were planning to present the show without a script until a deal was reached. However, the very act of continuing the show was criticised by both WGA and SAG-AFTRA.
Drew Barrymore was recently called out after saying she would resume production of her talk show despite the ongoing strikes. After facing a backlash, Barrymore defended her decision in a video that was widely criticised.
However, she eventually reneged on her plans to bring back the show while the strikes continued, writing: “I have listened to everyone, and I am making the decision to pause the show’s premiere until the strike is over.
“I have no words to express the deepest apologies to anyone I have hurt and, of course, to our incredible team who works on the show and made it what it is today.”
Dancing with the Stars was set to return later this month, but it’s believed that the series will be delayed by an entire year if the new season is officially postponed.
The Independent has contacted ABC for comment.