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'Dancing With the Stars' Season 18: A music review

U.S. Paralympic team snowboarded Amy Purdy and her

(Credit: ABC / Adam Taylor)

One episode into the 18th season of "Dancing With the Stars," we have a winner -- Amy Purdy -- and if she doesn't win, then we have a controversy: How could she not have won?

So much -- in other words -- for inherent drama. But what else to say about last night's re-furbished "Dancing with the Stars," which has a new co-host, Erin Andrews, and new band, headed by Ray Chew?

Quickly, Andrews:...

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Erin Andrews named co-host of 'Dancing With the Stars'

Erin Andrews at the Shape Magazine and Men's

(Credit: AP / Starpix)

The major house-cleaning at "Dancing with the Stars" continues: Brooke Burke-Charvet is out as co-host and Erin Andrews is in. Here's the official line:

Erin Andrews joins “Dancing with the Stars” as host alongside Emmy-Award Winner Tom Bergeron for its 18th season premiering March 17. No stranger to the ballroom, Andrews competed on the 10th season of “Dancing with the Stars” making it all...

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'Dancing With the Stars' fires band leader Harold Wheeler

"Dancing With the Stars"

(Credit: AP)

Harold Wheeler, the longtime band leader for "Dancing With the Stars," was fired by the show Monday, earning both the show and the network a rare rebuke from the American Federation of Musicians. ABC did not name a replacement, while trade reports late Monday indicated that the show, which has relied on Wheeler and his 28-piece orchestra since the first season in 2005, could in part rely on canned music -- or "pre-existing sound recordings," in the parlance of the trade. 

Ray Hair, chief of American Federation of Musicians, said in a statement: “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.”

Wheeler, 70, has a long and distinguished career in Hollywood music circles, beginning in the early '60s as musical director for Burt Bacharach. He -- and his players -- are an integral part of the show: Their sound is a versatile pop one that ranges across genres but is clearly most comfortable with the oldies/goldies standards that have tended to characterize so many "DWTS" numbers over the years and which obviously appeal to the audience. 

Which may be the problem here: That audience, which is very nearly the oldest in all of television, topping out at an average age of 62.1. Last fall, "DWTS" had the second-oldest average audience on television, which for ABC represents a massive sales problem. While "DWTS" may still be hugely popular, it is not hugely popular among young viewers. 

Which of course is an understatement: People under 30 don't even know what "Dancing With the Stars" is. 

In his statement, Hair continued: “It’s not like ABC and Disney don’t have any money and can’t afford an orchestra. It’s about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it. Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won’t boost ratings. It will kill the show.”

ABC and BBC Worldwide released this statement: "Our talented band leader and composer, 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 live 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."

"DWTS" returns March 17.

Nielsen: 'Dancing With the Stars' edged out 'American Idol' in '13

"Dancing With the Stars" edged out "American Idol"

(Credit: AP)

Interesting bit of news from Nielsen's annual Top Ten list, released Tuesday morning: "Dancing With the Stars" edged out "American Idol" as TV's most viewed unscripted show last season. "NCIS" remained TV's top draw overall. 

It's not earth-shattering news by any means -- "Idol," consistently TV's most watched for a decade, has been in an inexorable slide for years now, but "Idol" has usually been the superior in terms of numbers; in 2012, for example, "Idol's" Wednesday show edged out "DWTS" (15.1 million viewers to "DWTS's" 15.0 million.)

But ... Nielsen's numbers show a drop of about 1 million each for both shows.

Here's the list and you'll be shocked -- shocked! -- to learn that football remains preeminent. 

1. NBC SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL (NBC) 7.4 ... 21,734,000

2. SUNDAY NIGHT NFL PRE-KICK (NBC) 5.3 ... 15,708,000

3. THE OT (FOX) 5.0 ... 14,753,000

4. NCIS (CBS) 5.0 ... 14,692,000

5. DANCING WITH THE STARS (ABC) 4.7 ... 13,862,000

6. NFL REGULAR SEASON (ESPN) 4.6 ... 13,446,000

7. AMERICAN IDOL-WEDNESDAY (FOX) 4.6 ... 13,384,000

8. BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) 4.5 ... 13,217,000

9. AMERICAN IDOL-THURSDAY (FOX) 4.5 ... 13,136,000

10. DANCING WITH THE STARS RESULTS (ABC) 4.5 ... 12,890,000

Data from 12/31/2012 - 12/08/2013. Regularly scheduled English and Spanish-language programs on Broadcast and Cable. Primetime. Persons 2+ estimates include live and same-day timeshifted viewing. Excludes breakouts, specials, programs less than 5 minutes in duration and programs with less than 4 telecasts. Read as: NBC Sunday Night Football averaged 21.7 million viewers who watched live or via timeshifted viewing within the same day. Source: Nielsen

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