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PureDWTS Ask Court – How Do the Pros’ Contracts Work?

So we’ve been getting some questions on Twitter about how the pros’ contracts work – some of you were concerned about some of your faves leaving the show in the coming seasons, when their initial contract expires; others were just curious how the contracts work.  So here’s our best guess – keep in mind that contract negotiations in the biz are usually kept pretty hush-hush, for obvious reasons, so we don’t know exactly what’s written into each pro’s contract; this is just our best, educated guess based on what we’ve heard from people behind-the-scenes, what we’ve watched unfold, and what the pros themselves have said. Consider that your disclaimer 😉

How long are the pros’ contracts? From what we’ve been able to cobble from interviews the pros have done and intel we have from other sources at the show, it seems like the initial contract (the one the pros get when they first sign onto DWTS) is anywhere between 5-7 seasons (or 2.5-3.5 years), with a possible option to renegotiate after they’ve completed one year of their contract.  After their initial contract expires, it seems as though subsequent contracts are pretty open-ended – pros like Derek, Cheryl, & Kym seem like they’ve been able to negotiate on a season-by-season basis; other pros, like Lacey, appear to have gotten dropped from the roster and not offered a contract extension after their initial contract expired. Some of the one-and-done pros (think of the Jesse DeSoto’s, the Inna Brayer’s, the Tyne Stecklein’s, and the Andrea Hale’s of DWTS) likely were released from their contacts after only one season, when the producers were sure they weren’t going to use them again.

What does being “on contract” at DWTS entail? While being “on contract” certainly improves a pro’s odds of getting a partner each season, it’s not a guarantee; the only thing being on contract really means within the context of DWTS is that the show gets first dibs on you each season, and can use you for whatever purpose is within the scope of your contract – in this case, they can use you as a pro on the show, they can put you in the troupe, they can bench you for a season (and let you pursue other opportunities within that time frame, within reason), they can send you out on tour, they can send you to the (now defunct) Vegas show, they can send you out on one of the DWTS cruises, they can tap you for pro dances/bumpers, whatever. And as Lacey stated in an interview with Kristynyou only get paid if they actually use you.  But let’s say, like Sasha, you aren’t guaranteed a pro spot from season to season, and may alternate going back and forth from pro to troupe – the clock doesn’t stop on your contract, and you’re still burning up seasons on your contract whether you’re a pro, in the troupe, or not on the show at all. From what I can tell, TPTB can also veto any outside gigs you take if it puts you in direct competition with the network (although this seems to vary from pro to pro –  more on that later); so even though you’re getting paid (relatively) well when you are working for DWTS, there’s no guarantee you’ll be working from season to season, and they may also say “nope” to any outside jobs you try to take when you’re not working for them. This sort of exclusivity was ultimately the deal-breaker for a friend of mine who auditioned to be a pro back in 2009 – he had regular students back at his home dance studio, and couldn’t really wait till the last minute before each season to tell them whether he’d actually be around to teach them, and didn’t like the idea of having to “clear” any outside teaching/choreographing he was doing with ABC.

Do all the pros have the same contract? Definitely not.  At this point, some pros (i.e. Mark, Cheryl, Peta, Val, & Maks) have finished their initial contract and are likely negotiating from season to season or have shorter (perhaps year-long) contracts, and probably have more weight to throw around in terms of pay demands and special privileges; other pros still have a bit of time left on their initial contracts (if I had to guess, I think Sharna, Emma, Sasha, Lindsay, & perhaps Witney) and are probably going to be coming up on contract renegotiation time within the next season or two; the newbs (Alan & Jenna) still have a way to go on their initial contract and probably aren’t going to be renegotiating anytime soon.  So those are the differences in terms of length; we have noticed other differences in terms of privileges, though. Back when Julianne was still in her initial contract, she was offered a TV pilot, which TPTB nixed fairly quickly (I’m guessing it was on a rival network); however, Derek was offered a movie role (Make Your Move 3D) in the middle of his initial contract, and was allowed to take a season off to go film it (likely because the studio doing the movie wasn’t in direct competition with Disney, and Derek was the only 3-time MBT-holder and potential Emmy-winner at the time – so he had a bit more clout). Another interesting contractual “thing” we’ve noticed: Val, Mark, Emma, & Sasha have all been allowed to choreograph in the off-season for SYTYCD – but Derek was always prohibited from doing so. Our guess is that the higher-ups at DWTS probably saw him as a potential Emmy-generator, and didn’t want to run the risk of his choreography earning a potential Emmy nod for SYTYCD – so it may have been written into his contract that he was not permitted to choreograph for shows on rival networks. Since all of these negotiations happen behind closed doors and efforts are made to keep their terms confidential – we have no idea what could potentially be written into the pros contracts; but based on what we’ve seen, it’s a safe bet that not all contract are created equal.

Have the contracts changed at all over the years? Most likely yes.  I’m guessing all of the season 1 pros (Alec, Charlotte, Edyta, Louis, Jonathan, & Ashly) were probably only given contracts for that season, given that the network didn’t know if the show would catch on or not; once it was renewed for a second season, though, I’d guess that the pros that returned (everyone except Charlotte) were probably given longer, more exclusive contracts.  By the time Mark & Derek signed on in season 5, and it was clear the network had a hit with some longevity on its hands, the contracts probably got even more exclusive, as DWTS likely wanted to lock down their talent. I would guess at this point, the standard initial contract for new pros is probably pretty rigid & non-negotiable – so the newest pros, like Jenna & Alan, probably don’t have a ton of wiggle room until their initial contract expires.

If a pro’s contract is about to expire, does that mean they’re leaving the show??? Not necessarily. All an expiring contract really means is that a pro now has an opportunity to renegotiate their pay, the terms of their employment, the length of subsequent contracts, etc.  It’s a good thing, usually 🙂 And it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to jump ship. Just look at Derek – his initial contract expired several years ago (we’re guessing around season 15), and we still got 7 more seasons out of him before he finally hung up his dance shoes for good. I know some of you were worried about Sharna, whose contract I’m guessing is expiring after this coming season (season 27) – based on what we’ve seen of other pros whose initial contracts have expired, unless they haven’t used a pro in a few seasons (I think of Allison, who we haven’t seen since season 23; or Lacey’s last few seasons on DWTS, when she was pretty much on-the-bubble as a pro from season to season), I doubt they’re going to suddenly opt not to pick them back up during contract re-negotiations, unless a pro really starts making unreasonable demands or opts not to return on their own accord. And that’s something I think a lot of fans lose track of: eventually, the pros are likely to get offered new opportunities for growth in their careers, and are going to outgrow the capacity they have on DWTS…yes, if they’re your favorite, it’s sad to see them go, but if you’re a true fan, you understand that they can’t stick around forever and will eventually need to move on…which is often a good thing 🙂

Any other questions/thoughts about the contracts? Leave ’em below and we’ll try to answer them.

May 29, 2018 I Written By

Ultrasound sales specialist by day, semi-knowledgeable DWTS fan by night...with a smattering of hair & makeup enthusiast, occasional model, baker, and crazy cat lady peppered in to make things REALLY interesting ;-) I might pee my pants in happiness if Donnie Wahlberg ever does DWTS - or if they ever use "Sunglasses at Night" as a paso doble. Follow me (and my dog!) on Twitter & Instagram: @putuincespence & @BirkinTheBulldog

Judge Rejects Bindi Irwin’s Dancing With The Stars Contract, Needs Proof Dad Died

TMZ is reporting Bindi Irwin’s Dancing With The Stars contract got rejected because a judge needs proof Steve Irwin died. WHA??? Crazy!!! Poor Bindi…let’s hope this issue gets resolved quickly. She deserves every bit of the money she’s getting for doing Dancing With The Stars.

Bindi Irwin is caught in a tangled legal web … her “Dancing With The Stars” contract just got rejected because a judge needs proof her dad is dead.

Lawyers for the show submitted a minor’s contract to an L.A. Superior Court judge … it’s required because Bindi is 17. Her mom Terri signed a form stating she gives up all rights to any money her daughter will make on the show.

Here’s the rub. For some reason the judge wants the same release from Bindi’s dad, the late Steve Irwin. The judge said without proof of Steve giving up his rights to Bindi’s money, “the court is unable to find that it is in the best interest of the minor to be bound by the terms of the contract.”

It’s unclear if the judge is unaware Steve died in 2006, or if she’s just a stickler for a death certificate.

We’re told lawyers for the show will do what it takes to get the judge to sign off.

More at TMZ.

ETA: Just a little update from People

Now, the production company behind DWTS is stepping in to move the contract through the court.

“We are aware of the situation and our legal team is in contact with the court to work it out,” a spokesperson for BBC Worldwide Productions tells PEOPLE.

Irwin will hit the ballroom floor again Monday (at 8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

November 5, 2015 I Written By

Just a music and dancing fan here ....and a lover of life, nature, animals, and spending as much time as possible camping in our travel trailer. Favorite Quote at the moment: "Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth." ~ William Purkey. Follow me at: Voguerista Twitter & Voguerista Soundcloud. To view my photography site, see Lisa Kay Photography.

How Much Zendaya Is Getting Paid To Do Dancing With The Stars!

What a fascinating article that mentions how Zendaya scored a $125,000 signing bonus when she agreed to do Dancing With The Stars. She gets more too as the weeks progress….

Per the contract, she was entitled to $10,000 per week for weeks three and four (the whole field made it to week two), and is getting $20,000 per week in the fifth and sixth weeks of competition.

Should she stick around after next week’s vote—it will happen, unless she falls prey to the Sabrina Bryan Week Six curse—Zendaya stands to earn $30,000 per week for the seventh and eighth weeks.

Past that, it’s $50,000 each for the ninth and 10th weeks of the show.

Interesting, eh?? To read the full article, visit E News.

Heidi: I saw another article that said this number was right in line with what Shawn Johnson got back in Season 8, so it’s not out of the ordinary. It must be a standard deal. I do wonder if bigger names than her get bigger paychecks.

April 19, 2013 I Written By

Just a music and dancing fan here ....and a lover of life, nature, animals, and spending as much time as possible camping in our travel trailer. Favorite Quote at the moment: "Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth." ~ William Purkey. Follow me at: Voguerista Twitter & Voguerista Soundcloud. To view my photography site, see Lisa Kay Photography.