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Dancing With The Stars Fires Their Orchestra After 17 Seasons

February 04, 2014 02:30 PM by Suzy Kerr

Well, that was a little harsh, ABC. The network has reportedly fired the orchestra that has been performing on Dancing with the Stars since the show premiered 17 seasons ago, sparking an outcry from fans and industry insiders.

According to tabloids and other media outlets, the network made the call to fire music director Harold Wheeler and his 28-piece orchestra in favor of “a small electronic band” that they hope will entice a younger demographic to watch the hit dancing show. In a statement released by ABC yesterday, the network said, “Since season one, Harold and his band have performed brilliant music in our ballroom for our dancers and the American viewers at home. We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck.”

While there has been no comment from 70-year old Harold, who attracted a fan following of his own, others are outraged at what they view as a distasteful move by ABC. Ray Hair, the president of the American Federation of Music, blasted the network, saying, “People who love Dancing with the Stars also love the superb performances of the orchestra because it is such an integral part of the show.” He also expressed his opinion that the network’s move for a small, electronic band will never be able to compete with the brilliant harmony of Wheeler’s large orchestra, and he slammed the move as “artistic fraud.” “Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won’t boost ratings. It will kill the show,” Hair continued in his statement.

The move to replace the band wasn’t completely unexpected, as the show had already begun to use pre-recorded music in some instances. Executive producer Conrad Green justified the action, saying that “it’s impossible for a…band to replicate” some of the sounds of more modern music. “You get to a point where you’re forcing a band to try and do sound that they just literally can’t pull off,” he explained.

So what do you think about ABC firing the Dancing with the Stars orchestra? Was it a low blow, or just standard part of the show’s evolution? Tell us in the comments!

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Photo Credit: ABC

Topics: ABC Reality TV Shows, Dancing With the Stars |

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13 Responses to “Dancing With The Stars Fires Their Orchestra After 17 Seasons”

  1. Travlldy57 Says:
    February 5th, 2014 at 6:22 am

    They could play and sing any song. What will DWTS be without Harold Wheeler and his orchestra.

    I guess with the show being cut to one night and canned music it is not worth watching.

    Bad move ABC.

  2. sherri Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 4:45 am

    i think that was the worst move they could of made. and besides that, you want the younger crowd then stop getting the “ancient” people in their 60s, 70s, and 80,s (not mentioning their nammes) to dance… Dumb move…

  3. Suzanne Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Do we see a trend evolving here? Get rid of Jay Leno for a younger host to attract younger viewers. Get rid of Harry Wheeler to attract younger viewers. Is anyone over the age of 40 starting to take this personally? Disgraceful and lets see if this backfires in ABC’S face. I feel that it is about the guests they have on. Harry and his band were a great addition and to me were not a detriment to the show but the people they have dancing are. They need to concentrate on getting interesting people on there that people including the younger generation would want to watch.

  4. dee dee Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Stupid move–but karma is a bitch. The justin bieber crowd will never go in for ballroom dancing no matter what kind of ‘music’ you play. TV executives are blind as bats, and will never get it thru their heads that young people of today are not the ones watching TV. GET OVER IT.

  5. Karen Says:
    February 6th, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Dumb move abc. They did an amazing job with the music. With the 1 night and this move this will be
    It. I have watched for almost all of the seasons. It’s not as much fun anymore because of all the dumb voting people do.

  6. Karlene Mueller Says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    You are making a mistake firing Harold Wheeler. He and his orchestra are an important component of what makes Dancing with the stars work. You may think that your target audience is the younger generation, but it is the older generation that grew up with and appreciate this type of dancing. Don’t forget the baby boomers, and there are still alot of us, are now considered the older generation!

  7. Karlene Mueller Says:
    February 10th, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Really sad, who do they think really watch this show.I have enjoyed it from the beginning, but all this change isn’t good for the show. Might have been my last year to watch…

  8. Lynn Says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Well – - – this could be the beginning of the end for the show. Canned music – ugh!

  9. Lorraine Says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    This is really low, ABC. You have succeeded in killing Dancing With The Stars!!

  10. Lil Says:
    February 12th, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Okay…go ahead and change things for the “younger” crowd. Big mistake. Babyboomers make up the majority of the nation, and your audience. Who ya gonna appeal to now, junior executives? Better to fire your marketing firm.

  11. DR. B. Says:
    February 14th, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    As I understand this article, the network made the call to fire music director Harold Wheeler and his 28-piece orchestra in favor of “a small electronic band” that they hope will entice a younger demographic to watch. Mr. Wheeler has done fabulously for 17 yrs. but now he has to leave and make way for youth.

    In that case, let’s fire the old judges: Len Goodman(69), Carrie Ann Inaba(46) and Bruno Tonioli(58); the old host, Tom Bergeron(58); and Brooke Burke-Charve(42). Make it a teen to 30 yr. old show for a younger demographic to watch. Leave us baby boomers and others who are enjoying watching these old musicians, old hosts, and old judges alone! Plus, for television shows, Dances with the Stars show is OLD(17yrs!).

    The American Broadcasting Company and their owner, The Walt Disney Company can cast its Disney characters and create their Mickey Mouse dancing with the stars show for their younger demographic to watch.

    The network has totally disregarded those of us who have supported and watched faithfully for 17 years to make it what it is today. You feel we are not the demographic market you want and you don’t mind offending us by removing Mr. Harold Wheeler, whom we absolutely love. You have, in now uncertain terms, let us know we are too old of a viewing audience and you don’t mind discarding one of us. So, we will leave you so that can have your younger demographic and they can support you and your shenanigans.

    A mature and sophisticated X-Dances with the Stars viewer.

  12. angie pacilio Says:
    February 25th, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Sad, sad, sad. Why would ABC think the younger crowd will watch Dancing With the Stars. They have their own kind of music. I could just see Mark dancing to one of Justin Bieber’s song. Yuk, yuk, yuk. Goodbye Dancing with the Stars. Will miss you greatly. Mr. Harold Wheeler, great job. I’m sure you will be back.

  13. Snow flake Says:
    March 1st, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    So very sad to see DWTS go out like this. Just shows you how the “smart, young executives” are doing the show. When you lose all the “older” watchers and the “younger” viewers will be no where in site maybe then you will see. Such smart people are dumb as a box of rocks.


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