Dancing with the Stars has been thrown into chaos, with bosses scrambling to find replacements in frantic last-minute talks after Veep actor Matt Walsh pulled out amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike – while other A list participants are now also considering quitting the show.
The ABC series is under increasing pressure to let go of its Hollywood stars, with protesters calling out Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, 55, and How I Met Your Mother actress Alyson Hannigan, 49, for not standing in solidarity with the strikers.
Matt – a WGA member – left rehearsals on Thursday morning, saying he would not return until “an agreement has been reached with WGA.”
It comes as show bosses are reportedly looking at vetting audience members to ensure there is no disruption during filming, with the possibility of no audience at all when the show kicks off on Tuesday.
Veep’s Matt Walsh, a WGA Member, Walked Away from Dancing with the Stars Ahead of the Show’s Launch
The actor and show bosses discuss the possibility of Matt donating his fee to the WGA
The ABC competition show was busted on Wednesday, with protesters calling out Matt as well as Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and actress Alyson Hannigan
Matt posted his statement on Instagram Thursday morning
Now an insider has claimed that the demonstrations outside the studios – coupled with the ongoing strikes – have led to chaos behind the scenes, with show bosses scrambling to come up with solutions, including finding potential celebrity replacements, to ensure that filming can still continue. .
“Everything is on the table, and it’s going to be a very long week and weekend,” the source told DailyMail.com.
“Discussions about replacements have started and if replacements need to be made it could be a problem so close to the start of the show.
“But the show has made changes in the past when it comes to last-minute changes dating back to when Christie Brinkley couldn’t do the show and her daughter ended up taking her place.
‘But a problem that producers also see is that no one wants to participate in the show just to get pissed off. It’s a tense situation.’
They added that Matt had been in discussions with show bosses about the possibility of donating his fee to the WGA before ultimately deciding to pull out altogether.
While discussing possible plans for the first live show, they continued: “To avoid any difficult situations, knowing the show is live, the show will really look at the audience that shows up and vet their audience to make sure it are not protesters.
“They have also considered not having an audience in week one or an audience of people who are family members and friends to avoid any kind of disruption, like a few years ago with Ryan Lochte. Whatever happens, safety will be at an all-time high.”
In 2016, protesters stormed the stage after swimmer Ryan Lochte’s first performance in response to his false claim that he and three of his teammates had been robbed at gunpoint at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro.
Matt was greeted with a sign that read ‘Matt Walsh doesn’t dance like a scab! WGA picks up Dancing with the Stars and BBC Studios Los Angeles when he arrived for training on Wednesday.
Dancing with the Stars is a WGA show that employs one WGA writer.
He became the first star to walk away from the hit show on Thursday when he issued a statement confirming he would be “taking a break” from training and filming until a WGA agreement is reached.
“I am taking a break from Dancing with the Stars until an agreement is made with WGA,” he wrote on Instagram. “I was excited to be on the show and did so under the impression that it was not a WGA show and was under a different agreement.
‘When I was told this morning by my union, the WGA, that it was considered strike work, I walked out of rehearsal.
WGA forwards are demanding that the trio quit the series before Tuesday’s debut
Matt, pictured with Koko Iwasaki, had said he was excited to make his ballroom debut
Oscar winner Mira was also targeted by protesters as she headed to rehearsals on Wednesday
How I Met Your Mother actress Alyson Hannigan also came under fire from picketers
‘I always support my union members from the WGA, SAG and DGA. In addition to our union artists, I am sensitive to the many people affected by the strike and I hope for a quick and fair resolution, and to one day be able to work again with all the wonderful people I met at DWTS who tolerated my dancing. ‘
It comes a day after 25 people protested outside the rehearsal room in LA, calling on Matt, Alyson and Mira to quit in solidarity.
DailyMail.com has contacted representatives for Matt, Alyson and Mira, as well as Dancing with the Stars for comment.
Hours before Matt released his statement, he expressed his excitement about the show in a video shared to the official Dancing with the Stars Instagram account.
In a video with his professional dance partner Koko Iwasaki, 26, he could be seen nodding his head as she raved: “You guys, you gotta pay attention Matt! I’m so impressed, he’s the best.’
Mira was also singled out Wednesday for a sign that read, “Mira Sorvino Don’t Cross the Picket Line.”
The Sound of Freedom actress – who is a member of SAG-AFTRA – previously emphasized that her place in the lineup would not violate strike rules.
“No, we are allowed to do reality, unscripted, competition or documentary shows,” she tweeted. “It’s a different contract.”
Alyson faced a barrage of calls to resign, with people targeting her rehearsal videos on Instagram.
“Why are you crossing the picket line? This is really destructive,” one user wrote.
Another commented: “Union membership 101. Don’t cross a picket line.”
Dancing with the Stars co-host Julianne Hough avoided any mention of the reported chaos as she joined Live with Kelly and Ryan
The cast of Dancing with the Stars was officially revealed on GMA earlier this month
A writer on the picket line told Deadline, “The WGA respects all writing, whether it’s a single writer on a feature film with 500 people or a single writer on a TV show with 500 people; to us it’s all the same and we’re going to protect writing across the board.
“Dancing with the Stars is a show signed by the WGA. There shouldn’t be any shooting now.
“ABC, narratively speaking, has no fall programming because they chose to impose this strike on us, so we want to disrupt all their programming as much as possible so that they come back to the table with a reasonable offering.”
Dancing with the Stars co-host Julianne Hough, 35, avoided any mention of the reported backstage chaos during an appearance on Live with Kelly and Mark on Thursday morning.
“This season is going to be so much fun,” she teased. ‘The cast is incredible. I know that because Alfonso (Ribeiro) and I will be hosting, I’m sure we’ll probably dance at some point. It would be strange not to do that.’
She also said the show would pay tribute to her late colleague Len Goodman, who died of bone cancer in April at the age of 78.
Although it has already been revealed that the mirrorball trophy has been renamed after the late judge, Julianne shared: “I know Len Goodman passed away this year so we are here to honor and celebrate him. He was such an important part of this show.”
WGA – which represents 11,500 screenwriters – has been on strike since May 2 over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Pictures.
SAG-AFTRA – the Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – joined the industrial action on July 14. It is the first time since 1960 that both unions have gone on strike together.
Negotiations over WGA contract talks resumed on Wednesday, with reports that the Hollywood studios are nearing an agreement to end the strike after an “encouraging” face-to-face meeting.
Earlier this week, Drew Barrymore announced she would pause the return of her talk show after heavy criticism of her lack of solidarity.