'There's a real danger when a show has been on for a long time that the audience almost gets bored of the rhythm of it,' the EP says.
When Dancing With the Stars made the decision to replace longtime hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews ahead of season 29, fans and colleagues of theirs, including current and former dance pros, were surprised by the news. Executive producer Andrew Llinares defended the move to replace Bergeron and Andrews with Tyra Banks, citing the pivot as a necessary change for the long-running franchise.
"It's all about evolution," he told reporters Wednesday during Day 2 of ABC's virtual fall press day. "Any show like this that has been on for many, many seasons needs to continue to evolve. So I think changing that host is all about evolution. It was all about making the show feel fresh, making it feel new and make it reach out to a new audience -- as well as the audience that's been there for years."
While viewers have lamented the absence of Bergeron and Andrews, Llinares believes switching from a two-host format to one has been "working brilliantly."
"I think it's really refreshed the pace of the show. It's taken it to a new place, in terms of moving fast and feeling different. I think that there's a real danger when a show has been on for a long time that the audience almost gets bored of the rhythm of it. It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with it, just that it gets a little boring," he said. "I think it's changed the rhythm of the show in a really exciting way. I think Tyra is doing an amazing, amazing job. It's been wonderful having her energy in the ballroom and her expertise as a host in the ballroom. She's brought a new life to everything."
He doubled down on parting ways with Bergeron and Andrews, reiterating that it's about keeping the show "relevant."
"When a show's been on for this many seasons, it's very easy to stay in a place where it doesn't feel like there's anything wrong but does the show feel fresh, exciting and new? It's really tough... We've always been successful on all those shows where we continue to evolve and continue to move things on. That's something we've been doing right across the board with this show," Llinares explained. "The host is part of it, bringing Derek in is part of it, but also throughout the fabric of everything on the show -- the set has been updated, it feels more current and the way we're filming the packages... all of those things take the show into a place where it feels more current. We wanted to make the show feel relevant, but still hold on to the heart of the show."
Bergeron took to Twitter in July to break the news that he would not be back in the ballroom for season 29.
"Just informed @DancingABC will be continuing without me," Bergeron wrote. "It's been an incredible 15 year run and the most unexpected gift of my career. I'm grateful for that and for the lifelong friendships made. That said, now what am I supposed to do with all of these glitter masks?"
Soon after, ABC and BBC Studios released a joint statement to ET confirming the news, and revealed that Andrews was also out.
“Tom Bergeron will forever be part of the Dancing With the Stars family. As we embark on a new creative direction, he departs the show with our sincerest thanks and gratitude for his trademark wit and charm that helped make this show a success," the statement read. "Erin will also not be returning, and we appreciate all that she brought to the ballroom. Fans have been rooting for her since she originally competed as a contestant back in 2010, and her signature sense of humor has become a hallmark of the show."
Bergeron's rep also responded in a statement to ET, sharing, "ABC opted not to pick up Tom's option. In the fine tradition of Hollywood cliches, they're 'going in a different direction.'"
"We'd been speaking to Derek for months about potentially coming on the show and the plan was for it to be the four of them: Len, Bruno [Tonioli], Carrie Ann [Inaba] and Derek. That was our plan and of course, because of the situation this year, that couldn't happen," he said. "We miss Len. We wish he was here. We love that we found a way that we can at least have a sprinkle of Len across the season. Who knows what will happen next year but we love Len. He definitely is a part of the family of this show and I'm so pleased he's a part of it right now."
Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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