Dancing with the Stars has made its most shocking elimination ever – firing its live band. Slipped Disc cited a statement by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) on February 1, 2014 confirming that the Harold Wheeler Band and Singers will be replaced by pre-recorded music and a “small electronic band”. This is something I’ve been afraid of ever since the show integrated recorded music during season 17.
Why has ABC/Disney decided to get rid of 28 talented musicians, singers, arrangers, and copyists? To attract a younger viewer demographic, of course. AFM’s statement cited executive changes at ABC and said the network put “pressure on DWTS producer BBC America to cut corners and pander to a younger viewing audience.”
Hmm. I guess the network execs think only old people like live music.
As a former AFM member and huge DWTS fan, I am utterly shocked and devastated by this news. One of the reasons I loved this show is because of the talented musicians in the band. I’ve always been impressed by their ability to play every style of music from Benny Goodman to Lady Gaga. There’s no possible way that recorded music can replace the energy generated by a full 28-piece band. None. Not to mention that the band members will be losing a sizable chunk of income. And it’ll be difficult for these gigging musicians to find another steady, well-paying job.
You might be wondering if ABC/Disney’s decision has anything to do with financial trouble. AFM president Ray Hair doesn’t think so. “It’s not like ABC and Disney don’t have any money and can’t afford an orchestra,” Hair said in the AFM’s afore-mentioned letter. “It’s about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it. Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won’t boost ratings. It will kill the show.”
I, for one, am furious and will not be watching the show. If you’re angry too, there’s an easy way to take action. E-mail Candice.A.Ashton@ABC.com. Let her know that you’ll be among the many DWTS fans who will boycott the show, ABC-TV, and The Walt Disney Company if she fires the band.
In the meantime, I’ll be monitoring the situation and posting updates as they occur.
- Katherine Jenkins’s US hit show replaces live musicians with dead tracks (artsjournal.com)