Photo credit: ABC/Eric McCandless.
The 2018-2019 television season might not go down as a favorite for Dancing With the Stars producers. It was fraught with an uneven Season 27 and a complete absence on the airwaves in the spring. However, there is a lot of optimism around the series for Season 28, which returns this fall.
Last Saturday, ABC hosted a day-long For Your Consideration Emmys panel at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. DWTS was a part of the day's events with clips and a panel moderated by ABC 7's George Pennacchio. Panelists included Executive Producer Andrew Llinares, Co-Executive Producer Deena Katz and DWTS pros Sasha Farber and Emma Slater.
One of the big takeaways that the producers reflected upon was the journey and why it matters on the dance competition show. The example given was the Season 27 winner, Bobby Bones, who came from a rough childhood filled with an absent dad, his mom's addiction and one where education was the only way out of his situation.
"The proudest part for me on this show is being able to tell these kinds of stories. [Celebs are] out of their element [on DWTS]. This is new, this is scary, but at the end of the day, they're going to go back to their lives and they're successful in their world," explained Katz. "If we can change one audience member, then that's a success. So we've had people who have had struggles with disabilities, whether it's physical or emotional. If Bobby can tell that story and there's somebody out there that goes, 'Oh my gosh, I can do it, too.' That's a success."
With the idea of a journey in mind, Katz revealed that the interview process is happening right now for Season 28. She shared that there are certain things they are looking for in this year's cast.
"Andrew and I are going through the process right now. It's months in the making and obviously, you're making a television show. You want to have some people, that when you make the announcement, make you laugh," Katz continued. "You can't believe that you're going to see them dance. I want to have some people on the show because of their stories, it makes you want to get to know them."
The producers also want to make sure there is a contestant for every demographic out there — from a teen to an elder.
"This is for all of America and we're trying to hit every part. Everybody has somebody that they love when they watch this show," Katz said. "It doesn't matter what your age is. Anybody can go out and dance."
While anybody can go out and dance, Llinares wants to make sure they are still telling a story along with the movement on the ballroom floor. It's something that didn't necessarily align in Season 27.
"When we see the development of a story and when you're seeing the characters develop across the whole season, that's the magic way for me to see people progress and get better," Llinares admitted. "We had a few people who didn't necessarily progress and get better this season. It was an interesting season on that front."
What celebrities do need to realize is that Katz looks at casting the show like she's planning a dinner party. DWTS might interview a celebrity in 2019, but that doesn't mean they will be used for Season 28. Patience is the name of the game as Alfonso Ribiero already knows.
"Alfonso, who won a few seasons ago, wanted to be on for so long," Katz summed up. "I kept saying to him, 'It's not that I don't want you on. It's the right time in the right mix [of people].' "
That right mix of celebrities is exactly what DWTS is looking for in a refreshed and renewed Season 28.
Don’t miss Dance Network’s ‘To The Pointe’ interview with former ‘DWTS’ pro Karina Smirnoff: