ABC Might Delay ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Premiere, Matt Walsh Steps Away Amid WGA Strike

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The “Dancing with the Stars” premiere will most likely be delayed next week as some talent are dropping out of the show due to WGA strike pressure.

Actor Matt Walsh from “Veep” who is one of the contestants from the Season 32 cast is “taking a pause” from the ABC competition until an agreement is made with the WGA.

Wash is both a member of WGA and SAG-AFTRA and the DGA.

ABC confirmed with Variety that the network will most likely be putting in plans to postpone the latest season premiere.

“I am taking a pause from ‘Dancing with the Stars’ until an agreement is made with the WGA,” Walsh tells Variety in a statement. “I was excited to join the show and did so under the impression that it was not a WGA show and fell under a different agreement. This morning when I was informed by my union, the WGA, that it is considered struck work I walked out of my rehearsal. I have been and will always stand with my union members of the WGA, SAG and DGA. Beyond our union artists, I am sensitive to the many people impacted by the strike and I hope for a speedy and fair resolution, and to one day work again with all the wonderful people I met at ‘DWTS’ who tolerated my dancing.”

Emma Slater and Mauricio Umansky arrive at 'Dancing with the Stars' on September 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
LOS ANGELES, CA – September 15: Emma Slater and Mauricio Umansky arrive at ‘Dancing with the Stars’ on September 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images)

“DWTS” is covered by the WGA as it does employ one WGA writer. Yet, the show employs nearly 500 staff members in total attributing to crew and production members.

Performers on “DWTS” has included a large range of celebrity cast members, hosts, judges, and pro dancers – all have been cleared to work on the show under SAG-AFTRA’s “Network Code” agreement, which is not part of the current strike rules.


(The “Network Code” was ratified in 2022, and does not expire until June 2024.)

“Dancing With the Stars” was set to debut with a two-and-a-half hour premiere on September 28 on ABC and simulcast on Disney+. Earlier this week, sources also noted to Variety that plans were moving forward to continue the show without its one WGA writer despite criticism from the WGA.

WGA pickets happened during rehearsals this week with many talent beginning to feel uncomfortable to to recent backlash on other shows, including with Drew Barrymore, returning to work under scrutiny.

Sources close to production say it’s possible that the show can continue without Walsh, but if more celebrities begin to drop out, that will create more complications for production because the show is contingent upon its cast.

Harry Jowsey is seen arriving at 'Dancing with the Stars' rehearsals on September 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 15: Harry Jowsey is seen arriving at ‘Dancing with the Stars’ rehearsals on September 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by MEGA/GC Images)

“Everyone’s focus is to keep 500 people employed,” a production source previously told Variety.

As of now, any celebrity cast members that potentially back out of the show because of the WGA strike would be in breach of contract for refusing to work because SAG-AFTRA’s Network no strike clause.


According to sources close to the show, talent with concerns of any picketing have the support of the production team.

During the 2007-2008 writers strike, “Dancing With the Stars” remained in production. The show re-hired its writer once the strike was over, which would be the current plan, if “DWTS” continues without its writer.

The WGA and AMPTP are scheduled to meet again on Thursday which will be the second continuous day of the two sides meeting at the table after what was an “encouraging” session on Wednesday. Should the strike be resolved today and talent feels comfortable moving forward, the show could potentially go on.

ABC may be reallocating budgets to other fall titles including the Bachelor franchise if the title is delayed.

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