Sounds like the upcoming 18th season of “Dancing With the Stars” definitely won’t be the same old song and dance. On the heels of the elimination of longtime bandleader Harold Wheeler and his orchestra, it’s been announced that co-host Brooke Burke-Charvet has also been let go. But if you think this is all about downsizing, think again: Both Wheeler and Burke-Charvet are being replaced.
Former “American Idol” maestro Ray Chew has been tapped to fill Wheeler’s shoes. The veteran musician and orchestrator will bring his own band on board, and he promises to continue the show’s musical legacy with a first-class mix of “live vocalists, arrangers, copyists and musicians.”
And according to Us Weekly, Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews will dance back into the ballroom to take over the “DWTS” co-host role this season. The sports journalist competed on season 10 of the show with pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and the two made waves for both their bickering and their flirting. At the time, Chmerkovskiy even dished to E! News about their off-camera relationship, but stopped short of verifying a bona fide romance: “I think we showed partnership beyond just the show,” he said. “What Erin and I had is between me and Erin.”
Burke-Charvet has been keeping her sense of humor over the latest ballroom shake-up. After assuring fans that she’s fine with the changes (“I’ve always been one to embrace change and looking forward to pursuing opportunities I previously wasn’t able to entertain because of contractual obligations to the show,” she said in a statement), the 42-year old beauty tweeted this tongue-in-cheek theory: “Here’s the skinny – The show found out Harold Wheeler, the band, Rob & me were putting together our own road show, so they fired us all!”
The casting revamp is just the latest in a series of recent changes for the Emmy-winning celeb dancing competition. Last season, “Dancing with the Stars” eliminated the separate results show and switched to a one-night format. The move helped improve the show’s ratings, and ABC entertainment president Paul Lee confirmed to E! News that Season 18 will follow the same one-night format.
Of course, some things never change. While other TV talent shows have made headlines for playing musical judges’ chairs, the “DWTS” judges’ lineup has stayed intact for 18 seasons in a row. A press release has already announced that longtime judges Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli will be back for Season 18. But don’t rule out guest judges. Last season’s rotating guest judging stints by Julianne Hough, Cher, and yes, Maks Chmerkovskiy, were a hit, and Lee even hinted that Maks could be back in the future.
Season 18 of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres on March 17.
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