TV Column: New ‘Dancing With the Stars’ lineup
By Lisa de Moraes,
Can train-wreck comic Andy Dick, Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones , ’70s Olympic skating darling Dorothy Hamill and five-time Grammy winner Wynonna Judd save ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” from ratings oblivion?
How about comedian and former CNN show host D.L. Hughley, Disney Channel starlet Zendaya, “General Hospital” alum Ingo Rademacher? Or more athletes such as boxing champ Victor Ortiz and Olympic gold-medal gymnast Aly Raisman? Or reality-show vets like “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” dramatist Lisa Vanderpump and former “American Idol” contestant Kellie Pickler?
ABC hopes so — that’s the lineup for the spring round of the show, as unveiled on Tuesday’s “Good Morning America.”
Once the country’s most watched program, “Dancing” has suffered multiple consecutive seasons of declining ratings. Last fall’s solution — an all-star edition — wrapped with a finale that clocked only about 17 million people. That was down nearly 30 percent from the franchise’s previous fall edition.
More troubling to ABC is the show’s precipitous drop the past several seasons among 18- to 49-year-old viewers. They’ve never been the show’s strongest suit, what with it being a ballroom competition, but they’re the currency of television advertising sales.
An all-star edition — in which previous-season winners and fan faves were brought back — was supposed to shore up the show as it faced NBC’s singing competition/ratings magnet “The Voice.” But that “didn’t work out,” Jay Rasulo, chief financial officer of ABC parent Disney, acknowledged in December at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference.
Apparently the Seven-Figure Boys at the company didn’t listen to the millions of us who thought an all-star edition was bunk, because the fun of the show is watching celebs who don’t know their left foot from their right learning how to dance — or not.
“We thought it was a great idea,” Rasulo told confab participants, according to reporters who were there.
“Turns out people didn’t want to see people who could dance. They wanted people who couldn’t dance. . . . It’s not easy to be a taste-master in programming at a network,” he revealed, as if it were rocket science.
Also different for this spring edition: The show is benching some of its pro dancing regulars, including love him/hate him Maks Chmerkovskiy.
“I just want to set the record straight to all of my amazing fans that I will unfortunately not be returning for this season of ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ ” he said Tuesday in a statement, adding that he’s going to “explore other opportunities” like “producing and acting.”
Show pros Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower and Louis Van Amstel were also missing from Tuesday’s announcement but, so far as we know, they did not think it merited issuing a statement. ABC, however, did send out one, in which it assured fans that the four remain part of the show’s “family.”
Minutes before the new “Dancing” cast was revealed, cable network Starz announced that “Dancing” pro Derek Hough — who is back for the spring edition — and former “Dancing” regular Julianne Hough will exec-produce and choreograph the new Starz series “Blackpool,” about the dark side of international competitive ballroom dancing, set in Blackpool, England.
That’s because 17 million viewers might be a troubling “Dancing” number for ABC, but it’s a goldmine for Starz.
“Viewers are going to see a twisted, sexy, funny, dark and passionate side of the drama and politics in the world of ballroom dance that delves deeper than spray tans and sequins,” Derek Hough said in the Starz announcement.
MacFarlane: One and done
When the Reporters Who Cover Television weren’t alternately reveling in the apparent outlines under Anne Hathaway’s Prada gown at the Oscars and scolding Oscar host Seth MacFarlane for his show-opening “We Saw Your Boobs” performance number (“ ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ celebrates rape on film,” raged Salon.com), they were reveling in a MacFarlane tweet that he would never host the show again.
“No way. Lotta fun to have done it, though,” MacFarlane tweeted Tuesday morning in response to a direct question on the subject.
Not exactly news, MacFarlane having already said same to Entertainment Weekly about a week before the Oscars. But when it comes to covering Hollywood, a story worth reporting once is worth reporting twice.
“I just can’t take that kind of time out of my schedule” again, he explained to Entertainment Weekly.
Besides, he correctly forecast, “I’m . . . going to get savaged in the press.”
TV critics may have hated MacFarlane’s performance at Sunday’s 85th Academy Awards, but 40.3 million viewers lapped it up — the biggest audience for an entertainment program on any network in three years.
Likewise, ABC suits must be back-slapping one another — as well as producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — after MacFarlane’s will-he/won’t-he roller-coaster ride delivered 30 percent more 18- to 34-year-old guys than last year’s ceremony.
That age bracket is not only MacFarlane’s fan base — it’s also Madison Avenue’s most coveted prize.
Walters’s ‘View’ return
Barbara Walters is returning Monday to her daytime talker “The View” — more than a month after leaving unexpectedly to recover from a concussion and the chicken pox.
“Hello, my darlings. I’m so glad to be talking to you. . . . I really miss you,” she told The Ladies of “The View” via telephone Tuesday.
Babs has been MIA since January, when she traveled to Washington to attend President Obama’s inauguration.
Her troubles started when she missed a step while attending a party at the British ambassador’s residence, cutting her head and suffering a concussion.
Turns out, she had fainted. Besides her getting six stitches, doctors discovered that she had a low-grade temperature.
But the perils of Babs did not stop there. While trying to discover the root cause of the temperature, doctors found that Babs was suffering from late-onset chicken pox.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/