Many Dancing With the Stars fans were not thrilled when ABC replaced longtime hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews with Tyra Banks ahead of the ongoing Season 29, but executive producer Andrew Llinares is calling the move a "brilliant" and necessary "evolution" for the show. Three weeks into the new season, which has already bid farewell to Charles Oakley and Carole Baskin, Llinares spoke with press Wednesday about DWTS' new flavor with Banks at the mic.
"Any show that has been on like this for many, many seasons needs to continue to evolve," Llinares said, as per TVLine. "It was about making the show feel fresh, feel new, maybe make it reach out to a new audience" while also "not alienating anyone who's been watching the show for many, many years."
Using just one host instead of the Bergeron/Andrews pairing was a "brilliant" move. "I think it's really refreshed the pace of the show," Llinares added. "There's a real danger, when a show's been on for a long time, that the audience almost gets bored of the rhythm of it. It's changed the rhythm of the show in a really exciting way [to have Banks hosting solo]. Tyra's doing an amazing, amazing job."
In July, ABC announced it would be taking the show in a "new creative direction," by firing Bergeron and Andrews for the America's Next Top Model star. "Tom Bergeron will forever be part of the Dancing With the Stars family," they network said in a statement. "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. 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."
While there were calls for boycott and protestations from many longtime fans after the casting announcement, Dancing With the Stars' Season 29 premiere debuted to the series' highest ratings in four seasons. The Sept. 14 premiere drew in 8.1 million viewers and a 1.3 demo rating. Although that audience size was comparable to the Season 28 premiere, the demo rating of 1.3 marked Dancing With the Stars' best premiere rating since Season 25.