Dance pros Mark Ballas, a two-time mirrorball champion, and Louis van Amstel aren’t the only two familiar faces returning to Dancing With the Stars for the show’s 31st season on Monday, September 12. Conrad Green, the show’s original executive producer, who helmed the show from its inception until Season 17 (in 2013), is back as showrunner. It’s an exciting time to be guiding the show. The dance competition reality series will be seen exclusively on Disney+. One of the biggest changes to the format is that there will be no commercials.
TV Insider chatted with Green about his decision to come back to DWTS, the return of the Skybox (the safe haven for dance pros and stars), the addition of past mirror ball champion Alfonso Ribeiro as co-host, and much more. Read on to get a preview of the new season.
How did your return to the show come about?
Conrad Green: I just got a call from ABC. I think when they were considering moving over to Disney+, they wanted a fresh look on the show and I think they also looked back at when I was at the show and they wanted to get that feel to it back somewhat. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…”
(Laughs) Well, the show has always evolved without me. The quality of the production is quite amazing. I’m inheriting a very good team. It’s a real challenge doing something for Disney+ and producing the first big entertainment show to go live on a streamer. It’s really fun making live TV. You don’t get a lot of opportunity to do that. There’s a whole special buzz that comes from that. Obviously, I’m very fond of this show. I was there from day one. It’s lovely to be back and to see so many familiar faces and also some new faces. What are some of the unique challenges that will go into producing a live dance show that’s commercial-free?
No commercials from a production standpoint is going to be the biggest challenge for us. We’re used to having 4-to-5-minute breaks to change the stage. It’s now as live as live can be. It’s like doing a Broadway production. You’ve got to get all of your teams sympatico. You might see the odd set piece moving around in the back but we’re hoping to make it as smooth as possible. What will we be seeing on our screens while stagehands are striking sets and bringing in new ones?
That’s one of the reasons we’ve got the skybox back and Alfonso as co-host. I think he’s going to be great. He’s knowledgeable and passionate. As a former [mirrorball] champion, he knows what it takes to do well on the show. He’s got a great friendship with Tyra [Banks, host]. They’ve known each other for years. The Skybox gives the dancers their own space. They have their own space away from the floor where they can support one another. This will allow the audience to see them in a different light. We’re also looking at bringing back the studio audience. It won’t be as full as it was pre-Covid. We’re trying to find a balance.