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AFM President Blasts ABC for firing Dancing with the Stars Orchestra

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            
February 3, 2014

CONTACT: Antoinette Follett
(315) 422-4488 ext. 104

AFM President Blasts ABC for firing Dancing with the Stars Orchestra

New York, NY— 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 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 Worldwide Productions 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.”

Founded in 1896, the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM), AFL-CIO, is the largest organization in the world dedicated to representing the interests of professional musicians. With more than 90,000 members, the AFM represents all types of professional musicians, including those who record music for sound recordings, film scores, videogames, radio, television and commercial announcements, as well as perform music of every genre in every sort of venue from small jazz clubs to symphony orchestra halls to major stadiums. Whether negotiating fair agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, securing benefits such as health care and pension, or lobbying legislators, the AFM is committed to raising industry standards and placing the professional musician in the foreground of the cultural landscape. For more information, contact the main number at (212) 869-1330 or visit the Web site at
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