ABC puts a twist on ‘Dance’

Network picks up comedic reality show

ABC will be waltzing with celebs once again, but this time via the comedic reality entry “Let’s Dance.”

The network has picked up five episodes of the FremantleMedia North America series, which will likely air during the holidays — as a bridge between cycles of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

Like “Stars,” “Let’s Dance” centers on celebrities learning moves on the dance floor. But “Let’s Dance” takes a much more comedic approach, as the stars are brought on to re-enact a famous dance routine — think Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in “Dirty Dancing” or Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Weekly episodes will air live, and viewers will be asked to vote on their favorite routines — leading up to a final episode when top performers return to compete one last time. Proceeds from the calls go to charity.

Reality shingle Whizz Kid created the format in the U.K. for the Comic Relief charity; the show launched in January on BBC1 as “Let’s Dance for Comic Relief.” Whizz Kid will also produce the U.S. version alongside FremantleMedia.

“As I acquire and option formats around the world, we’re looking for shows that the whole family can watch together,” said Julie Uribe, nonscripted senior VP at FremantleMedia North America. “Whizz Kids had incredible success in the U.K. with this format, and we do believe this will be attractive to celebrities who may have never considered unscripted TV.”

Unlike “Dancing,” which requires a lengthy time commitment, celebs on “Let’s Dance” will only need to take a week off to be on the show. The producers and network hope that will help in the casting of talent.

ABC scored the rights to the show after a competitive bidding situation; FremantleMedia execs said they liked the fact that the Alphabet already has “Dancing With the Stars” on the air, much like BBC1 airs both “Dancing With the Stars” and “Let’s Dance” in the U.K.

“We do love dancing,” said ABC alternative series co-head Vicki Dummer. “The tone of this is fun.”

The U.K. version featured celebs imitating Britney Spears’ routine in her “Hit Me Baby One More Time” video, as well as dances from “Pulp Fiction” and “Footloose.” Thesp Robert Webb (“Peep Show”), who performed a routine from “Flashdance,” was crowned winner.

“Let’s Dance for Comic Relief” won its time period in the U.K. across all key demos and also posted BBC1’s best ratings for an entertainment series launch since May 2002.

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