ABC has fired longtime “Dancing with the Stars” bandleader Harold Wheeler, who will take his 28-member group of musicians and singers with him, according to The Hollywood Reporter. In place of the orchestra, the show will use more sound recordings, the story adds.
The decision was blasted by American Federation of Musicians President Ray Hair, who condemned replacing the band with pre-existing sound recordings and what he called a “small electric band.”
“Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud,” he said.
The Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers had performed on the show for 17 seasons, the story notes.
ABC and BBC Worldwide Productions acknowledged the change, but didn’t explain the reason for firing the band.
“Our talented music director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for season 18 of ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” the companies said in a statement. “We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck.”
The union claims the decision was spurred by pressure from ABC on BBC Worldwide “to cut corners and pander to a younger viewing audience,” the story adds.