ABC greenlights celebrity ice dancing series

“Ice Dancing With the Stars,” it’s not. But ABC is clearly hoping that putting celebrity dancing does as well on ice as on terra warma.

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 of the programs, BBC programming and production EVP 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 — is not 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 it will be very different

“We’re tackling this one with probably more of a theatrical flourish. … With ice, 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.

It will be 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’s will have a noticably 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 premiere its 10th edition for ABC March 22, remains a key part of the network’s schedule, though the audience numbers for its fall season finale were the show’s lowest since season one.

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