EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that two-time Emmy acting nominee Matt Walsh is hitting pause on his participation in this season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. His decision comes as the dance competition has come under scrutiny amid the writers strike, with the WGA picketing rehearsals yesterday in at least two locations around Los Angeles.
Additionally this morning, ABC is putting plans in place to delay the Sept. 26 premiere of Dancing with the Stars. A final decision on pushing the premiere will be made in the coming days.
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In a statement to Deadline from Walsh, the actor says, “I am taking a pause from Dancing with the Stars until an agreement is made with the WGA.”
“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,” the actor continued.
“This morning when I was informed by my union, the WGA, that it is considered struck work I walked out of my rehearsal. I have been and will always stand with my union members of the WGA, SAG and DGA,” he said.
“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,” added Walsh who has been picketing during the SAG-AFTRA strike at Disney’s Burbank studio.
Walsh, a contestant on the show who is paired with Koko Iwasaki, is a member of both SAG-AFTRA and WGA. Picketers, who surrounded the DWTS rehearsal hall early Wednesday on Highland Avenue and later at the 3rd Street Dance Studio near the Beverly Center, specifically targeted Walsh, as well as Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and How I Met Your Mother‘s Alyson Hannigan.
Their picket signs referenced the high-profile celebrities with messages like “Can’t Dance Your Way Out Of This” and “This One Time At Band Camp … Alyson Hannigan Screwed The Entire WGA.”
DWTS is not subject to the film and TV SAG-AFTRA collective bargaining agreement, which expired June 30, triggering an actors strike when a new deal with AMPTP could not be reached. As a variety/reality show, DWTS falls under a separate contract, the SAG-AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting, aka Network Code.
Though DWTS is a WGA signatory, the ABC show typically only employs one writer on its 500-person staff to provide talking points for the host. Otherwise, DWTS is largely unscripted.
As Deadline reported, the WGA and AMPTP, joined by four media CEOs, had a “very encouraging” negotiating session yesterday with another one scheduled today.
During the previous WGA strike of 2007-08, DWTS continued to shoot, and re-hired its writer once the strike was over.
Walsh is the co-founder of the Improv Theatre Group Upright Citizens Brigade. He starred on HBO’s Veep for seven seasons as press secretary Mike McLintock, a role which earned him two Primetime Emmy noms in the Comedy Series Supporting Actor category. He recently starred in Searchlight/Hulu’s Eva Longoria-directed movie Flamin’ Hot. His previous writing credits have included Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade series, which he co-created in the late 1990s, as well as Unplugging, the 2022 movie he co-starred in with Longoria.
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