The Dancing With the Stars premiere is at risk of being pushed back as celebrities continue to voice concerns over the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, Us Weekly can confirm.
Veep’s Matt Walsh, who is set to compete on season 32 of the dance series, announced on Thursday, September 21, that he is “taking a pause” from DWTS in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. Walsh, 58, is a member of the WGA and Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) unions, both of which are still fighting against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over labor disputes and fair wages. The WGA strike began in May, while the SAG-AFTRA picketing commenced in July.
“I am taking a pause from Dancing with the Stars until an agreement is made with the WGA,” Walsh told Variety in a statement on Thursday. “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.”
He explained: “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.”
Per the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike guidelines, union members are forbidden to promote struck work or film new projects until an agreement is finalized. Struck work means it is produced or backed by companies such as the big four TV networks, streaming sites or studios that have not agreed to the union’s terms.
In this case, DWTS is considered a WGA show because it employs one WGA writer. The ABC series employs roughly 500 workers overall, including crew, producers and talent. The network confirmed to Us on Thursday that ABC is putting plans in place to postpone the premiere, set for Thursday, September 28.
Ahead of rehearsals for season 32, DWTS’ celebrity contestants, hosts, judges and dancers were cleared by the SAG-AFTRA to participate on the show under the Network Code agreement.