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Business News (more headlines) 02-08-2014

AFM President Blasts ABC For Firing Dancing With The Stars Orchestra

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After 17 hit seasons performing on one of the world's most popular TV programs, Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), the 28 men and women of the show's live backing band—the Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers—have been fired. Producers say the group will be replaced with pre-existing sound recordings and a "small electric band" to "attract a younger demographic."

American Federation of Musicians International President Ray Hair blasted ABC-TV for its decision, asking supporters to e-mail Candace.a.ashton@abc.com to demand the orchestra's return or risk viewer retaliation. "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," says Hair. "The tight, elaborate musical productions that catapulted the show into the top 10 in 17 countries can't be duplicated by recordings and a small combo. Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud."

Network sources say that a recent shift in ABC/Disney's executive staff in charge of primetime reality series programming led to pressure on DWTS producer BBC America to cut corners and pander to a younger viewing audience. "It's not like ABC and Disney don't have any money and can't afford an orchestra. It's about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it," says Hair. "Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won't boost ratings. It will kill the show."

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