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'Dancing with the Stars' 28-member band has been fired

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According to USA Today on Feb. 4, bandleader Harold Wheeler, 70, and the "Dancing with the Stars" orchestra and musicians have been fired after 17 seasons.

ABC and BBC Worldwide Productions said when Season 18 starts in March, the 28-member band of musicians and singers will be missing.

Here is the statement issued by BBC Worldwide Productions and ABC about the exit:

"Our talented Music Director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for Season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. Since season one, Harold and his band have performed brilliant music in our ballroom for our dancers and the American viewers at home. We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck."

ABC says that live music will still be an important part of the show and that an announcement will be coming soon regarding a new band leader. Additionally, recorded music will sometimes be used.

Conrad Green, executive producer of "Dancing with the Stars, explained: "We feel that there are some types of music and types of songs, a lot of modern music particularly, is so produced that it's impossible for an 18-piece band to replicate that sound. You get to a point where you're forcing a band to try and do sound that they just literally can't pull off."

Not everyone is pleased with the decision to release Wheeler and his musicians. American Federation of Musicians' president Ray Hair slammed the move. He said, "People who love Dancing with the Stars also love the superb performances of the orchestra because it is such an integral part of the show. The tight, elaborate musical productions that catapulted the show into the top 10 in 17 countries can't be duplicated by recordings and a small combo. Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud."

Producers say the band will be replaced with sound recordings and a "small electric band" to "attract a younger demographic."

The replacements might be hard to get used to, especially at first. After all, many people enjoyed and respected Wheeler and his band.

No one has said where Wheel and his band will go after leaving "Dancing with the Stars."


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