DWTS Producer Explains Change to the Show Ahead of Season 33

A “Dancing With the Stars” executive producer explained why a long-standing rule on the show was changed last season. In a February 2024 interview with TV Line, DWTS executive producer Deena Katz explained why producers decided to do away with the Judges’ Save rule.

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The Save, which was implemented in season 28,  gave the  DWTS judges—Carrie Ann Inaba, Derek Hough, Bruno Tonioli, and Len Goodman— the final say in deciding which bottom two couple would ultimately leave the competition. If there was a tie, late head judge Goodman’s vote would determine which couple would be saved from elimination.

In February 2024, “Dancing With the Stars” was renewed for a 33rd season, set to air this fall.

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Producer Said Viewers Should Make the Decision

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For DWTS season 32, the Judges’ Save was not used—and for good reason. Speaking with TV Line, Katz explained why the rule was abandoned after four seasons.

“I think it should be about America,” she said. “At the end of the day, the Judges’ Save sometimes isn’t what America wanted. And [eliminations are based on] half the judges and half America voting, and so that’s kind of the reason we did it.”

Katz also cast doubt that the save will ever be brought back to the ABC celebrity ballroom competition.

The Judges Save was first implemented in 2019 after Bobby Bones won the 27th season of DWTS despite not being the best dancer. While Bones won based on viewer votes and not judges’ scores, complaints were rampant.  Judge Carrie Ann Inaba addressed the situation in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. “We have made some adjustments to the judging because we got a lot of complaints,” she said at the time. “We listened to what everybody said about what happened last year.”

But some fans didn’t like the new rule. According to Screenrant, some viewers felt the Save gave Goodman too much power to decide who would go home.

Carrie Ann Inaba Was Happy the Judges Save Was Eliminated

Carrie Ann Inaba

Not all of the “Dancing With the Stars” judges were fans of the Save rule. In a 2021 interview with TV Insider, Inaba said the Judges Save was “really the hardest part of the job.”

“I actually preferred it when we didn’t have to — or get to — save anyone,” she added. “It was the audience vote and our scores. Yes, that also meant better dancers would go home, but it felt more democratic to me. Now, we are tasked with choosing who we want to save from the bottom two.”

Inaba noted that each judge chooses “in a different way” and they must do it on the spot. “It’s a combination of your heart and your head and yes, it has to be done in a quick moment,” she said, adding that the judges don’t always agree on who to Save.

When the Judges Save inexplicably disappeared in season 32, the first season following Goodman’s death, Inaba admitted she was relieved. In November 2023, she told Entertainment Weekly, “I must say that I’m pleased that as of this stage in the competition, there hasn’t been a judges’ save! I prefer not to have the final say in determining who stays or goes. “

“Our job is to judge, but the fourth or sometimes fifth judge has always been the audience,” she explained. “This makes our fantastic DWTS viewers an integral part of the show by giving them a say in the outcome. That is what makes the DWTS family what it is. It’s always been us and the viewers. We do it together.”

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