Dancing With The Stars is back! The famous, long-running series has had its fair share of controversy throughout the years, so we have uncovered the juicy gossip from the dancers, celebrities and producers to present to you the best-kept secrets of Dancing With The Stars.
Celebrities have very busy lives with numerous projects going on at once so their stints on Dancing With The Stars often fall through. If a celebrity was to pull out of the show, producers line up extra stars to take their place as insurance. Producer Deena Katz claimed that she even had a whole wardrobe and trailer set up for a certain back-up who was even undertaking rehearsals.
Working Off The Show
The television show has proven a big hit with their roster of professional dancers being an integral part of their success. For this reason, the contract signed by the professional dancers reportedly contains a clause whereby their options for what they can do outside of the show is somewhat restrictive and the producers have to give their approval. When Julianne Hough was on the show she became a big star and had to turn down many big job opportunities including sitcoms on competing networks as it was a conflict of interest.
The producers want celebrities to be excited about joining the Dancing With The Stars and want to learn to dance. Producers are more likely to cast people who seem enthusiastic and willing to go through the experience. Rob Wade specifically noted Alfonso Ribeiro went into his meeting with producers and told them he was a fan of the show and wanted to be a part of it, which led him to win season 19. Wade also said that they look for enthusiasm over how famous a celebrity is.
Although the Dancing With The Stars cast is relatively big and it is difficult to pinpoint which couple is going to come out on top of the scoreboard, producers specifically select a few great competitors who they believe will make it to the end of the show. Contestant Alfonso Ribeiro confirmed this by stating that there was a lot of manipulating going on with the producers about which dances they were doing on certain weeks and if they’re saving their best dances for earlier or later weeks.
The Show Is Scripted
Fans of the show may or may not be surprised to hear that the show is actually scripted and producers tell celebrities what to say and construct situations which may not be 100% truthful. In many reality shows this is the case and it’s rare to find programs which don’t have a script. Wendy Williams from season 12 confirmed this by stating on her talk show that she was told to say things which did not reflect how she was feeling so she instead told the cameras her personal thoughts.
UK to US
Dancing With The Stars has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the US, projecting large viewing figures season after season but it actually originated from the UK TV show Strictly Come Dancing which has been a success in itself. The British version has been a hit on BBC One since 2004, one year before the show crossed the pond to the US. The show is the same concept with former judges Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman appearing as judges in both the US and UK shows.
Judges Crazy Schedules
Due to their commitment to appear in both the US and UK version of Dancing With The Stars, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman would travel between London and Los Angeles via private jet to arrive at each of the shows on time. The constant traveling, totaling over 20 hours per week, appeared to take its toll on the judges who later quit the show. In a leaked scandal it was said that the two had a rift before one of the flights and Len ‘banned’ Bruno from speaking to him on the journey to Los Angeles.
Dancing With The Stars is a physically grueling reality show with hours of training every day of the week and the celebrities are expected to give their all and more. The packed schedule between training and performing means that celebrities don’t have the time to work on other projects simultaneously. However, they are very well compensated from the show with salary negotiations reportedly reaching around $125,000 base salary for just appearing on the show, even if they only stay for one week.
Money Money Money
Although the celebrities find the dancing an enjoyable and competitive environment, the greatest incentive they have is the money. The longer they stay on the show, the more money they make. It was reported that Bindi Irwin was offered a base salary of $125,000 and then gets a bonus of $10,000 to $50,000 for the later weeks in the show meaning that she would make $230,000 if she made it to week 8. Due to Bindi winning the show, she made a reported total of $360,000.
Kate Gosselin created controversy during her stint on the reality show in 2010. Kate Gosselin wanted to get to the next week so desperately that she emailed friends and family to vote for her 10 times, even though the maximum was 5, and then to forward the email to 10 of their friends to maximize votes. The controversy went further as Kate’s dancing partner Tony Dovolani went on to claim that he needed therapy after dancing with her. When Kate was informed of these claims it was reported that she was highly offended by her ex-dance partner.
Dancing With The Stars ensure that their celebrities look their best on camera to make the show seem glamorous. Head makeup artist Zena Shteysel has a strict weekly routine to prep the cast for the show. She specifically noted ‘spray tan Sundays’ where all of the cast comes in to get tanned, which is a major part of the grooming process as it hides imperfections and creates the illusion of tighter bodies and bigger muscles. She also noted they use a total of 5 gallons of spray tanner each season.
Olympians Turn Dancers
Many contestants on Dancing With The Stars have spoken of its grueling hours of constant dancing, requiring high fitness, which has attracted many athletes to take part. In recent years, Olympians have been a common theme with US Olympic stars appearing as heroes after their gold medals in the summer games. Olympians including Simone Biles, Ryan Lochte, Shawn Johnson and Hope Solo have all taken part with many Olympians reaching the later stages of the competition due to their athletic ability and experience in training hard for long hours, daily.
Ryan Lochte Controversy
Straight off the back of his controversial trip to Rio for the 2016 Olympics, where he was sent home early and suspended from the team for lying about being held at gunpoint at a Rio gas station while he was drunk with his USA teammates, Ryan Lochte signed onto Dancing With The Stars season 23. After much of USA had turned against Lochte for shaming the Olympic team and their country, Ryan apologized and tried to win people over through his dancing. However, during one of his appearances, a protestor stormed the dance floor, wearing t-shirts with Locate’s name crossed out, bringing the filming to a halt.
Since Dancing With The Stars went to air in 2005, it has been a rating hit, bringing in an average of 17 million viewers in its first season. From then, ratings soared all the way up to almost 22 million viewers weekly around its 10th season. Its popularity was a huge surprise to producers and cast with host Tom Bergeron stating that it was so unpredictable and they thought they had a good entertainment show on their hands but could not have imagined the success it was going to be. 24 seasons later, it’s still a hit.
Outfits After The Show
Dancing With The Stars is known for its sparkly, over the top outfits which perfectly complement their dances, making the celebrities look their best. There are hundreds of costumes made every season with many wondering what happens to them. Costume designer Steven Lee said that some of the outfits go to storage, others are auctioned for charity and also reused. Celebrities are also able to buy costumes after their performances, but they’re quite pricey costing an average of $5,000 a piece! Celebrities including Ricki Lake, Nancy Grace and Kristi Yamaguchi own all of the outfits they wore on the show.
Injuries Are Common
Throughout its time on the air, Dancing With The Stars has proven time and time again that dancing can be dangerous. Every season the list of injuries extends with some minor and some more serious. Among the most memorable injuries was Jackass star Steve-O’s back injury, which forced him to sit out of the competition for a week, Misty May-Treanor’s torn Achilles tendon, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay had stress fractures in both of his feet and Bill Nye had a quad injury.
The Carlton Returns
When Alfonso Ribeiro signed on to season 19 of Dancing With The Stars, many were anticipating his famous dance from the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, ‘The Carlton’. Alfonso seemed to hold off on bringing out the Carlton until later in the series which would help him clinch the winning prize. When his dance partner Witney Carson broke into the dance, with Alfonso following suit, the audience erupted and inevitably gave Alfonso and Witney the top score. Celebrities often become the favorites when they can bring their originality into their performances.
Dance From Home
Due to Dancing With The Stars bringing in a large amount of viewers every week, the show has capitalized on all business ventures they can link to the dancing show. Almost every celebrity loses a considerable amount of weight on the show from the demanding training regimen that they are obligated to attend to learn their dances week after week. From this, the show produced branded dancing workout, instructional videos with names including Cardio Dance for Weight Loss and Dance Off The Pounds.
Producers Full Control
Many of the female celebrities that sign up to Dancing With The Stars are often concerned about their looks on the show and want to bring their personal make-up artists on board so they can have some creative control. However, producers do not allow this and have a specific vision for how the celebrities will look on camera to project a certain image which is in line with everyone on the show. The producers want uniformity and use award-winning costume designers and make-up artists to ensure the celebrities and dancers are looking amazing.
Last Minute Costumes
Due to the dancer’s costumes being so intricate, every detail is hand sewn into the costumes. For this reason, they are often not ready until the last minute before the show starts. Although it sounds incredibly stressful, Dancing With The Stars pro Tony Dovolani said it was completely normal and often couples wouldn’t even have a dress rehearsal in their costumes and the first time they would put them on would be on the aired show. Julianne Hough also spoke of the costumes saying that they often fit so well because celebrities and dancers are sewn into them right before they are due to dance.
Sparkle On The Show
Although everyone associates Dancing With The Stars with sequins and glitter, there are no sequins placed on costumes but rather the costume department favor using rhinestones and crystals. At any one time in the costume department, over 170,000 crystals are stocked as any single costume can use thousands of crystals, meaning that for the whole cast, crystals are in high demand. A dress for a latin routine can take a team of 12 people anything from 16-20 hours, while a ballroom dress can take up to 40 hours of work.
When the contestants have finished their performance, judges only have about three to four seconds to write down the scores they want to present after examining and critiquing the dances. The score is written down on a piece of paper which is then passed on to Carrie Ann, and finally into the hands of a nearby producer. Although the decision needs to be made on the spot, the judges typically know what score they’re going to give three-quarters into the dance but don’t write it down until the end in case of a fall or slip up, at which time the score would need to be changed.
In season 23, model Amber Rose ruffled some feather among the producers with her diva-like demands and outrageous requests. Strong-willed Amber allegedly wanted to pick her own partner and get paid more than Dancing With The Stars was offering. However, it was suggested that producers ended up choosing her partner, the same as other contestants, but some claim that she had influence as she ended up dating her dance partner Maksim’s brother off the show. Amber’s demands did not pay off as she did not last long on the dancing show.
Dancing With The Stars veteran Maksim Chmerkovskiy has been a winner on the dance floor but was actually asked to sit behind the table on the judging panel. Producers wanted Maksim to be an opinionated and harsh judge. Maksim turned down the offer and continued to be a professional dancer on the show, preferring to be judged, rather than judge others. The offer has reportedly been left open for him to hang up his dancing shoes and turn to judging the show in the future. As for now, he has a new baby to focus on with fellow professional dancer Peta Murgatroyd.
Stars of Scientology
Kirstie Alley was paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy on Dancing With The Stars and the two had a great relationship both on and of screen. However, after the show Kirstie Alley distanced herself from Maksim as he had a friendship with Leah Remini, who was an ex-Scientologist and spoke out against the Church of Scientology, severing all ties leading the actress. As an active Scientologist, Kirstie ‘disconnected’ from both Leah and her friend Maksim to show her commitment to her Church.
Len Goodman’s Secrets
In 2013, Len Goodman kept a secret from everyone that he had married his longtime girlfriend of 10 years Sue Barrett. The head judge on the panel married his dancing teacher girlfriend in an intimate ceremony in London attended by 30 of Len’s closest family and friends. This was Len’s third marriage; his first wife was dancing partner Cherry Kingston who he married in 1972 and had son James with, and his second wife was named Lesley. Len spoke of the marriage only after the ceremony as he wanted to keep the majority of it under wraps and out of the press.
Len Goodman has taken the role of head judge on both the US and UK shows, traveling between London and Los Angeles weekly. However, in 2016, Len announced his departure from the UK version Strictly Come Dancing, of which he has appeared on the show from its debut in 2004. In an emotional farewell, Len said that he wanted to leave the show on a high rather than having viewers tire of him. Many have questioned if this is, in fact, the real reason as he was a fan favorite and adored by viewers and cast alike.
Head judge Len Goodman revealed that in 2015 he would be taking a break from the 21st season of Dancing With The Stars to rest and spend more time with his family and his newborn grandson. Many speculated that Len’s break from the show signaled his imminent departure altogether, worrying many fans that the show would not be the same. However, the 72-year-old strictly veteran couldn’t stay away from the show for too long and ended up returning as the head judge in the following season.
US over the UK
Len quitting Strictly Come Dancing in the UK left the majority of Brits expecting him to leave its US counterpart as well. However, when Len did not announce his retirement from the US version of the show, it left many scratching their heads wondering why he had favored the US version. When questioned on UK talk show This Morning about his choices, Len assured audiences he was not favoring anyone and it was only because of his contract that he was staying on the US show. He claimed that his UK contract was renewed annually while the US contract was renewed every 2 years.
Hot on the heels of Len Goodman’s departure from Strictly Come Dancing, Bruno Tonioli hinted that he is in ‘two minds’ over whether he will follow Len and quit the show. The two have sat side by side throughout their 11 years on the show traveling together from London to Los Angeles, appearing on both Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing With The Stars. Bruno also admitted the trans-Atlantic traveling has also taken its toll on him and was the reason Len Goodman quit the British show.
When producers begin the casting stages, they have been known to look through the news and what people are talking about to see who is relevant to draw in bigger ratings. Although ABC does not comment on casting rumors for the show, producer Rob Wade commented that news ‘plays in hugely’ when putting a cast together. In 2017, The Bachelor star Nick Viall was confirmed to take part in the 21st season of the show straight off the back of completing his fourth stint on the Bachelor and getting engaged to contestant Vanessa Grimaldi.
Many celebrities join the cast of dancing with the stars to either launch or re-launch their careers. Following Mario Lopez’s stint on the show, he went on to become a regular host of Extra, X Factor USA and America’s Best Dance Crew. Nicole Scherzinger went on Dancing With The Stars after being in the Pussycat Dolls, which then led her to projects including The X Factor UK – eventually landed her a number 1 solo album. Further to this, the professional dancers have made their own careers from dancing, Julianne Hough, in particular, has featured in the remake of Footloose and is now a judge on the show that made her career.
Gymnast Shawn Johnson was the youngest person to take home the mirror ball trophy in 2009 at age 17. Shawn was partnered with Mark Ballas in season 8 and before this Olympian, Apolo Anton Ohno won the trophy at 25-years-old with Julianne Hough on his birthday. However, there were younger contestants on the show who didn’t take home the winning prize. Hunger Games star Willow Shields danced in the show at age 14 while the oldest contestant was 2008 fan favorite 82-year-old Cloris Leachman.
The success of Dancing With The Stars has grown so large that it has turned into a global franchise. Over 50 countries have their own regional version of the TV show including the US, UK, Russia, South Africa, France, Spain, Turkey, Vietnam, Sweden, Brazil, Slovakia, and Bulgaria. The show is the same concept worldwide with each country having their own celebrities participating. However, often in the UK and US versions of the show they regularly have celebrities from the UK on the US show and vice versa. The professional dancers also travel across the pond.
One person in particular that the Dancing With The Stars producers have sought after for every season on the show is ex-President Bill Clinton. Casting director Deena Katz revealed in 2016 that she had asked the former President to participate in the dancing show every year since it premiered in 2005. The only year he wasn’t asked was in 2016, during Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President, when they thought he might be busy supporting his wife. Perhaps now Hillary didn’t succeed as President, Bill may reconsider the dancing offer.
In season 9, legendary singer Donny Osmond took part in the series with Kym Johnson as his partner. The two were victorious in 2009 when Donny was 51 years old, two weeks shy of his 52nd birthday making him the oldest competitor to win the show. Just behind him was Jennifer Grey at 50 years old who took home the top prize with partner Derek Hough in 2010. Dancing with the Stars has always been inclusive of all ages of celebrities to draw in a wider audience.
The way producers choose pairings is typically through their height, build, personality and compatibility. Contrary to speculation, producers refrain from pairing dancers and celebrities who do not get along to cause controversy and drama on the show, stating that it would be miserable for all parties including celebrity, dancer and viewer. Producers have made the mistakes in the past of pairing people who do not see eye to eye and admitted they learned valuable lessons for the experience. The production works well when the cast has good friendships.
In 2015, Bindi Irwin competed on Dancing With The Stars and won the mirror ball trophy. Due to Bindi being a minor at 17, she needed her parents to sign off on the contract, confirming they would not touch her money, which her mother was quick to do. However, the court rejected her papers as it did not contain her father’s signature. Bindi’s father Steve Irwin, the famous ‘Crocodile Hunter’, was killed in a sting ray accident in 2006 and Bindi had to go to court to prove her father’s death before she could collect her paycheck.
The Whole Panel Returns!
The 24th Season of Dancing With The Stars returned in March 2017, with all four judges including Carrie Ann, Julianne Hough, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman all returning to the table. Behind the scenes, drama and talk in the press questioned what the judges’ table would look like this year, but all four judges renewed their contracts. However, it is looking likely that the 24th season will be the last time we see Len Goodman in his head judge’s seat with the long hours and strenuous flights, retirement seems close on the horizon for the legendary dancer and TV judge.