ABC

Dancing With the Stars is finally back!

In fact, it’s one of the first live shows to come back during the pandemic. Of course, the piped-in audience sounds in the empty theater took some getting used to, but I’m still excited to see the stars cha cha across the stage.

This season saw another big change, when Tyra Banks took over the hosting gig from Tom Bergeron.

However, even with all the changes this season, some things stay the same. Here are some of the secrets that happen behind the scenes that make the show what it is — from five gallons of spray tan, to producers picking favorites.

The Media Influences Casting

When casting begins, producers actually pay attention to the media and what people are talking about — to see who is relevant and will draw in bigger ratings. They never comment on casting rumors for the show, but producer Rob Wade once said that news “plays in hugely” when putting a cast together.

Backup Celebs

Celebrities often have very busy lives, with plenty of projects all going on at once. In the event a celebrity has to pull out of the show at the last minute, producers have extra stars lined up to take their place.

One season, producer Deena Katz even claimed that she had a whole wardrobe and trailer set up for a backup celeb, who was even going through rehearsals.

Picking Favorites

The cast for the show is relatively big, and it might be difficult to pinpoint who’s going to win — but producers do have their favorites. They specifically select a few great competitors that they believe will make it to the end of the show.

Why is this important? Because it influences which dances producers choose for contestants each week. They might even save best dances for certain weeks.

The Show is Scripted

Speaking of producers manipulating the show, it’s not just about choosing dance styles. Producers actually tell the celebs what to say, and construct situations that might not be 100% truthful. Of course, the dancing skills are all real, though.

All About the Money

Although I’m sure plenty of celebs find the show fun and competitive, they aren’t just there for fun. The greatest incentive they have to appear (and stay) on the show is, of course, the money.

All of the celeb contestants make a cool $125,000 for the rehearsal period and the first two weeks on air. After that, anyone who makes it to week three starts earning extra money per episode on a sliding scale.

Bringing the Glam

The celebrities always look extra glamorous, and that’s obviously no accident. Producers have a very specific vision for how the celebs will look on camera, and want uniformity. That’s why celebrity contestants aren’t allowed to bring their own hair and makeup artists.

Instead, producers have their own award-winning costume designers and makeup artists for the show.

Bronzed Celebs

As part of that specific vision for how celebrities look on camera, they also have a strict spray tan schedule. No, really! Not only does spray tanning hide imperfections, it also tricks your eye into thinking the contestants have tighter bodies and bigger muscles.

The head makeup artist once admitted that they use five gallons of spray tanner every season.

What Happens to Costumes?

The show wouldn’t be the same without all those amazing costumes — but what happens to them after the show? “Some go into storage, some are auctioned for charity, and others we reuse,” said costume designer Stevel Lee.

Celebrities are also allowed to buy costumes after their performances, but they can cost an average of $5,000 a piece. The hefty price tag didn’t stop some celebs, like Ricki Lake and Kristi Yamaguchi, who own costumes they wore on the show.