'Dancing with the Stars' producers: The pro dancers are the stars now
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/26/2011
Dancing with the Stars producers have acknowledged that after thirteen seasons, the professional dancers have become bigger stars than their celebrity partners in many cases.
"There is this weird inversion of what the show was meant to be,"Dancing with the Stars executive producer Conrad Green toldThe New York Times.
"Now when our celebrity competitors meet their dance partners, it's the celebrity who is star-struck."
Former talk show host Ricki Lake was shown admitting such during last week's premiere of Dancing with the Stars' thirteenth season.
"When I walked in and saw [Derek Hough], I melted a little bit," she said about meeting her partner for the first time.
The popularity of many of the Dancing with the Stars professionals has seemingly escalated over time to the point where the show's staff feel some viewers may cast their votes solely for favorites like Hough or Cheryl Burke, nearly disregarding the celebrities on the show altogether.
"To some degree they are responsible for keeping their celebrities on the air," Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron told The Times. "People at home sometimes vote more for the dancer than the star."
Three-time champion Hough, who skipped last spring's season to film a movie but returned for this fall's thirteenth edition, said he is understanding of the situation and how the returning dancers have developed strong star power over the years.
"It's just like with a hit sitcom or drama, I guess," Hough told the newspaper. "Viewers really get to know and love the regulars, and guest stars come and go."
"In the beginning it was only about the celebs, and we would be in their shadow. They are following in our footsteps now," Burke added.
While professional partner Kym Johnson told The Times she feels the viewers appreciate how the dancers put everything they have into teaching their routines and providing entertainment, fellow dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy said their roles on the show have become irreplaceable -- a huge step up from where they had started onDancing with the Stars.
"None of us came from a television background. We just knew dance. But as we grew, producers gave us a lot more freedom to create and give ideas. We became inseparable from the show," Chmerkovskiy said.
"I don't want to sound conceited, but now I feel like it's my show too."