ABC Fires the Band on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

Feb 4, 2014  •  Post A Comment

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.

harold wheeler orchestra.pngHarold Wheeler


  1. This is a typical move by alleged “executives” who will come in and make stupid decisions backed up with skewed statistics.
    The show has been successful all these years for many reasons. Harold and his ensemble have been major contributors to that success.
    DWS is a live show and the energy can’t be gotten out of a can. Every time a guest has appeared on it with a canned track it has broken the energy.
    Show Biz requires Show Biz oriented executives…this decision will hurt DWS greatly.
    Sure, it is expensive to have a live band, but it will be much more costly in the long run to DWS to eliminate it.
    Want to save six, or more likely seven figures? Fire the idiot(s) behind this decision.
    Peter Bright

  2. Back in 2000, when I was working as a writer on the newfangled version of the game show “Twenty-One”, for the first couple of months the producers had a live band playing in the show. It really made a difference in the atmosphere, making the ambience feel more “alive”. There is a reason why people flock to live music and don’t just buy recordings, and it’s not a logical one; it’s all about how it makes you feel… Oh yes, why did they get rid of the live band? budget, budget, budget

  3. …on second thought, since they’re slashing budgets, why don’t also get rid of the costumes? That should save some money 🙂

  4. If they want higher ratings (and higher rates for advertising), try getting some actual “stars” for the show – not C list celebrities and relatives of stars.

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