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'DWTS' 2014: Harold Wheeler Orchestra is officially out, says ABC

Tom Bergeron will return to host "Dancing with the Stars" 2014 on ABC.
Photo by Kris Connor

Days after the lead trumpet player for the Harold Wheeler Orchestra posted a note to Facebook claiming that he and his band mates had been unexpectedly cut from the 18th season of "Dancing with the Stars," a Feb. 3 joint statement by ABC and BBC Worldwide Productions confirmed the news.

The statement praised Wheeler and the orchestra for providing 17 seasons of "brilliant live music" in the famed "DWTS" ballroom and wished them "the best of luck," but confirmed that they would "not be joining us for season 18" of the hit reality dance competition, which premieres in mid-March.

The announcement sparked outrage from the American Federation of Musicians, who released a lengthy statement heavily chastising the network and Disney for the decision, which was allegedly made to attract younger viewers. AFM President Ray Hair encouraged viewers to contact ABC execs to demand that the orchestra be reinstated, and predicted that the planned use of pre-recorded music would be viewed as "artistic fraud" by show fans. He went on to blame an "insatiable thirst for profits" for the change, and predicted that the move would lead to the end of "DWTS."

Show fans can protest the change by emailing ABC at Candace.a.ashton@abc.com.

"Dancing with the Stars" 2014 premieres March 17 on ABC with an all new cast of celebrity mirror ball trophy hopefuls.