LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- ABC has fired "Dancing with the Stars" band leader Harold Wheeler and his 28-member group of musicians and singers, the Hollywood Reporter said.
The band, which performed on the dance competition series for 17 seasons, is being replaced by a smaller group of musicians and the use of pre-existing recordings, the entertainment industry trade newspaper said.
"Our talented music director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for Season 18 of 'Dancing With the Stars,'" BBC Worldwide Productions and ABC said in a joint statement Monday. "Since Season 1, Harold and his band have performed brilliant music in our ballroom for our dancers and the American viewers at home. We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck."
The show's producers gave no reason for the band's departure.
American Federation of Musicians President Ray Hair criticized the decision to fire the musicians, noting they are "an integral part of the show."
"The tight, elaborate musical productions that catapulted the show into the top 10 in 17 countries can't be duplicated by recordings and a small combo. Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud," Hair told THR.