Los Angeles is missing out on at least one television production this spring — CBS Studios' Come Dance With Me chose to relocate production from the West Coast to Melbourne, Australia. Even though California is doing well with COVID-19 numbers, the producers were looking for an in-person audience to add to the atmosphere and that wasn't going to possible with the current COVID regulations in the Los Angeles area. SAG-AFTRA current safety rules for union performers is enforced through June 30. The networks and the unions are now in discussions for phase two regulations as more productions are ramping up.
Come Dance With Me has now moved to an entirely different continent with Docklands Studios Melbourne taking on the dance competition show. The series, produced by CBS Studios and 3 Ball Productions, and executive produced by NCIS: Los Angeles actors LL Cool J and Chris O’Donnell. Come Dance With Me has also rounded up a familiar dance face with Step Up's Jenna Dewan on the judging panel and Philip Lawrence set to host. Dewan is currently in a two-week quarantine as mandated by the Australian government.
According to Media Week Australia, "contestants are also being flown in from the US" and the first episode will be taped in front of a live studio audience on Wednesday, May 19 with 10 other dates running through Friday, June 25. The premise of the show has "12 talented young dancers from across the United States who have invited an inspirational adult in their lives to be their TV dance partner." The grand prize for the winners is $100,000.
There will also be some well-known choreographers working behind the scenes, including World of Dance's Brittany Cherry, So You Think You Can Dance's Robert Roldan, Club Mickey Mouse star Gabe De Guzman, X Factor USA's Nika Kljun and The Little Mermaid Live!'s Cassidy Noblett. Former So You Think You Can Dance executive producer Jeff Thacker is also lending his dance expertise to the show, although his specific role is not known at this time.
It's been quite a while since CBS green-lit a dance competition show. The last time they ventured into this genre was for Paula Abdul's Live to Dance in 2011. The show was constructed off the British series, Got to Dance, and was supposed to be a rival to So You Think You Can Dance, but it only lasted one season.
Before CBS officially announced the cast for the show, Mitch Graham SVP, Alternative Programming, CBS, spoke with Deadline about returning to the dance competition genre. It was before NBC's World of Dance was canceled and before Fox's So You Think You Can Dance was put on ice for another year due to COVID. “It’s a different way into the dance space and performance," he explained. "The dance space is a little crowded so we have to figure what’s our way of doing that show.”
With the only rival currently ABC's Dancing with the Stars, this gives the network a terrific opportunity to make a name for themselves in the dance industry. It's been a tough year for the dance community, so they are also rooting for the show's success since it generates jobs and visibility for the performers. CBS Studios has not announced a premiere date yet, nor have they signaled whether future seasons will continue in Australia or move back to Los Angeles studio lots. The decision to relocate the show to Australia is a considerable investment for the network, but it also demonstrates that they have strong confidence in the series.
Before you go, check out: 'Dancing with the Stars' Pro Britt Stewart Shines a Light on BIPOC Dancers with Share The Movement