ABC puts ‘Stars’ on skates

BBC Worldwide format earns spot on schedule

Amid the ongoing success of “Dancing With the Stars,” the idea of putting celebrity dancing on ice has melted ABC’s heart.

The Alphabet net is moving forward with plans for an untitled competition series from “Dancing” producer BBC Worldwide, pairing celebrities with ice skating pros for a six-week skein later this year — probably in the winter between “Dancing” seasons.

Despite the shared parenthood, BBC programming and production exec VP Jane Tranter told Daily Variety that the upcoming skating show — spun from the BBC’s “Strictly Ice Dancing” format that premiered in the U.K. in 2004 — isn’t a “Dancing” clone.

“We’re not there to do an imitation of ‘Dancing With the Stars,'” Tranter said. “That show has too strong a flavor. The whole look and the feel of (‘Ice Dancing’) will be very different.

“We’re tackling this one with probably more of a theatrical flourish. … We’re thinking ice and fire and ice sculptures and just a real theatrical flair to it.”

BBC Worldwide programming veep Izzie Pick will exec produce, with “Dancing With the Stars” vet Alex Rudzinski directing.

Show will rep ABC’s second attempt to bridge the gap between the fall and spring editions of “Dancing” in as many years. A year ago, the Alphabet net ordered five episodes of “Let’s Dance” and even gave it a Nov. 23 premiere date, only to rescind those plans two weeks before launch (Daily Variety, Nov. 9).

ABC is also not the first U.S. network to try to launch a star-infused skating show. “Skating With Celebrities” aired on Fox for seven weeks in 2006 but was not renewed.

Participants and a location for the upcoming ABC series are scheduled to be announced closer to its pre-production period near the end of the summer. The show will have a shorter season than “Dancing” typically has.

“We need to work out what ice dancing does to your body that is different from what training for ballroom dancing does,” Tranter said. “It’s a more dangerous sport — it’s an Olympic sport — and so we need to start off with a shorter run while we work out how we can properly train people and what standards we can get people to.”

“Dancing With the Stars,” which will preem its 10th edition for ABC on March 22, remains a key part of the network’s sked, even though the aud for its fall season finale was the show’s smallest since season one. ABC also will broadcast a primetime ice skating competition show, “Thin Ice,” March 19 and 21. Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt and Dick Button will be judges, with Terry O’Neil exec producing.

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