ET has learned that the dance competition series is set to begin production for its 29th season very soon. A source tells ET that rehearsals are scheduled to start in September. Due to ongoing concerns over COVID-19, however, it's possible that the date could be moved around if new issues arise or safety protocols change in Los Angeles, where the show films.
ET has also learned that DWTS producers are hoping to air the show live, taking all precautions and with safety guidelines in place. Planning the show’s return is still preliminary, as production is taking it day by day. The goal is to ultimately return to the ballroom and make the experience as normal as possible for fans and viewers.
For now, the show is holding fans over with an all-new promo, released by ABC on Tuesday:
While not much is known just yet about how season 29 will work (will dancers have to wear masks? will partners quarantine together?), ABC and BBC Studios have definitely been keeping fans on their toes with teases. It was announced in June that former Bachelorette star Kaitlyn Bristowe will be competing for the mirrorball trophy.
"I'll be happy with whoever they partner me with. I just feel like they're all incredible," Bristowe said of the pro dancers, while exclusively chatting with ET after the exciting reveal. "They have to be to be on that show!"
One month later, fans were shocked when Tom Bergeron announced via Twitter that he was leaving the show after 15 incredible years, along with his longtime co-host, Erin Andrews. Tyra Banks is stepping in as the new host for season 29, and will also be serving as executive producer alongside showrunner Andrew Llinares.
"It is gonna be so next level," Banks teased on an appearance on Good Morning America earlier this month. "I am having meetings with the producer that I walked in to join, Andrew Llinares, and... he's like, 'Tyra, you just don’t know. It's gonna be next level.'"
"We're doing all this crazy stuff, taking it to the next level, but still keeping the stuff that we know America loves," she added. "But you need to get ready, 'cause it’s gonna be different."
Plus, it's very likely that fans can expect even more switchups with the pro dancers, following Sharna Burgess and Artem Chigvintsev's surprising departures last season. ET has confirmed that Lindsay Arnold and Witney Carson will both sit this season out, as they announced just weeks apart that they're both expecting their first children with their respective husbands, Sam Cusick and Carson McAllister.
Carson admitted in various interviews with ET last year that she was having major baby fever in the ballroom. "I'm shocked I'm even saying this, but we're getting a little bit baby hungry, which is, like, crazy for me because I've never been baby hungry ever in my life," she told ET at the 2019 Emmys. "All of a sudden just, like, this year, I've been so baby hungry. I'm feeling it. Every time I see a baby I'm just like, 'Ugh! You're so cute, I want one!'"
"It might [shake up DWTS]," she admitted. "I don't know how good that will look, nine months pregnant trying to do the samba. I don't know if I could physically do it, but damn, I'll try."