Dancing With The Stars will feature a new dynamic during its 18th season after ABC fired the show's live band, The Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers. There are two stories as to why the band is gone, but its performances isn't one of them.
"Our talented Music Director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for season 18 of Dancing with the Stars," read the company's official statement. "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."
A previous interview with executive producer Conrad Green suggested the group was struggling to recreate the pop music featured during the program. He suggested that the level of detail in modern production was nearly impossible for Wheeler and his 18-piece band. Ultimately, Green claimed, it just made more sense to use the recording versus "forcing a band" to recreate the tracks.
The American Federation of Musicians called bull on those statements however, alleging that the live orchestra was dropped simply to save money.
"It's not like ABC and Disney don't have any money and can't afford an orchestra," said Ray Hair, the president of the federation. "It's about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it," said Hair. "Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won't boost ratings. It will kill the show."
The replacement of live bands with studio recordings isn't a new one; the AFM has been getting riled up about it since 1942. Dancing With The Stars won't be totally sans live music, but the new group will be much smaller and more electric, according to Hair.