"Dancing With the Stars" has had to re-imagine production amid the pandemic.
The competition series, which premieres Sept. 14 on ABC, will be produced and shot according to a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan, which is informed by productions in other markets, as well as state, local, union and network guidelines, according to a representative for the show.
Protocols include social distancing, temperature checks, wearing masks and regular testing of cast and crew, but there's one rule that has already made headlines: The show is also mandating that all pros live apart to prevent the eliminations of two pros and their celebrity partners should one get sick.
"It's going to be bliss -- I mean it's going to be terrible," pro Emma Slater, who's married to fellow pro Sasha Farber, told "Good Morning America" last month. "It's going to be so different because we can't actually interact and even prep with each other, which is something completely different, but we're doing everything we can to keep safe. There's going to be a lot of FaceTiming."
- 1September 8, 2020
Other changes to production this season are:
● In accordance with the manual issued by the Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force in June, the set will be broken up into zones to minimize contact.
● Dancers will not come within 8 feet of anyone other than their celebrity partner while on set and at rehearsals. Similarly, judges will sit 8 feet apart, and dancers will be asked to stay at least 8 feet away from the judges.
● Dancers and pros will be tested at least five times each week and must complete daily health screenings before they can access the set.
● Every celebrity involved with the show has relocated to Los Angeles, where "Dancing With the Stars" is filmed, for the duration of the season to eliminate any travel.
● Celebrities will film themselves when at home.
● Don't expect to see any large group opening numbers this season, though production is looking for new ways for couples to dance together while observing social distancing rules.
● Instead of a live band, prerecorded tracks will play in the ballroom. There will not be a live studio audience.
● Special air filters, which a "Dancing With the Stars" representative said are equivalent to those in operating rooms, have been placed in key locations.
● Although celebrities will be able to watch their co-stars perform, it will be from a second-floor balcony. The sky lounge has been removed from set.