Some “Dancing With the Stars” fans are wondering if “the fix is in” for season 30 after a blind item implies that either JoJo Siwa or Amanda Kloots will be crowned the winner of season 30. Here is what you need to know about the situation and why fans are upset.
Entertainment Lawyer Said ‘The Fix Is In’ For ‘The Professional’
In a blind item posted on November 2, the blog “Crazy Days and Nights,” which is run by an anonymous entertainment lawyer, said, “Last night was just to make things seem legit. The fix is in and the professional dancing with the professional is set to win the whole thing.”
The anonymous entertainment lawyer in question has been profiled by both Vanity Fair and The Daily Beast, and in the Daily Beast’s profile, they said they “confirmed Enty’s identity through other entertainment lawyers in the industry who spoke on condition of anonymity.”
Reddit found the blind item via the site Alt Gossip Celebrities, whose guess for the blind item was Amanda Kloots — Kloots used to be a professional dancer on Broadway and with the Radio City Rockettes.
However, it seems much more likely that the post is about JoJo Siwa because the first line of the post reads “last night was just to make things seem legit.” The post was made on November 2, the day after the “Dancing With the Stars” episode where JoJo and her partner Jenna Johnson landed in the bottom two and were saved by the judges, sending The Miz and Witney Carson home.
JoJo could also be considered a professional dancer. She got her start in entertainment on “Dance Moms” and is now a popstar and has her own dancing competition show “Siwas Dance Pop Revolution” on Peacock.
Fans Don’t Know What to Believe
On Reddit, fans are split about whether they believe the blind item. One fan called it “fan drivel” and wrote that they don’t know how producers could “fix” the show because the judges score the dances and “the audience votes are independently audited by an outside firm. If those were ever tampered with it would destroy the show.”
Another fan wrote, “When are people going to realize that is illegal for these shows to fix the results and rig the show.”
However, in a separate Reddit thread, a user pointed out that “Dancing With the Stars” does not have a cash prize, which is important regarding the law prohibiting fraud on shows like this.
The statute that covers game shows, which was put into place after the quiz show scandal of the 1950s, says that the “contest” in question is defined as a broadcast “in connection with which any money or any other thing of value is offered as a prize or prizes.”
As the Reddit users point out, the contestants are paid to be on the show, but there is no cash “prize” given out to the winner. It is more like a paycheck or stipend than a prize.
Furthermore, the statute defines the contest as having to do with “intellectual knowlege, intellectual skill, or chance.” That is also an important point to consider and a 2007 Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal article by Kimberlianne Podlas summarizes why the statute does not apply to shows like “Dancing With the Stars.”
[P]resently, no reality contest show that is predominantly one of intellectual skill or knowledge uses audience voting; the only programs that base eliminations on audience votes are not contests of intellectual skill or knowledge. As a result, the former shows are immune from the statute, because they do not use audience voting; the latter are immune, because they do not involve predominantly intellectual skill.
Furthermore, a 2019 Chapman Law Review article cites a 2009 FCC ruling about a comedy contest where a contestant alleged the contest was rigged. In that ruling, the FCC dismissed the claim because they ruled that comedy is not an “intellectual skill” under the statute. The Chapman article then wrote:
Based on the FCC’s narrow interpretation of what qualifies as an “intellectual skill,” Professor Podlas was probably correct in her assertion that a lot of reality shows probably do not come under 47 U.S.C. 509’s jurisdiction. Based on the summary dismissal of the above complaint, a show like “Last Comic Standing” would almost certainly not be covered. It is also doubtful that other reality talent shows, like “American Idol,” “So You Think You Can Dance?,” “The X Factor,” “America’s Got Talent,” or “The Voice” would come under the jurisdiction of 47 U.S.C. 509. If comedy is not “intellectual” enough, then neither is singing,
dancing, or magic.
So, while it has never been decided in a court of law, a plain-text reading of the statute probably does not cover “Dancing With the Stars” the way a show like “Jeopardy” is covered.
Also of note — “Dancing With the Stars” contestants do have contracts with the show. Recently, contestant Anne Heche said on Jason Tartick’s podcast “Trading Secrets” that she was “fired” from “Dancing With the Stars” after five weeks.
“What happened the night of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ … if I had gone on to another dance, I would have made thousands more dollars. And what they did was stop the original contract, which was five weeks, and they fired me before I could make more money,” said Heche on the podcast.
Fans thought Heche misspoke, wondering if she was speaking about earning a set amount of money for five weeks and then earning more the longer she was on the show. Perhaps most contestants have five-week contracts and then they renegotiate if they are still on the show? She has not clarified her comments. But the Entertainment Lawyer who made the claim about JoJo winning also said that contestant Olivia Jade had an agreement with the producers to be safe for the first three weeks of the show, and Heche is not the only past contestant to speak out about the show possibly being rigged.
In 2012, contestant and soccer player Hope Solo wrote in her memoir that her partner Maks Chmerkovskiy stirred up drama to keep them on the show longer in light of a “secret memo” circulating that determined the elimination order.
Solo wrote (via RadarOnline), “Maks later told me that he had argued with the judges because he had been told we were going to be eliminated, that there was some secret memo going around that said who would be ousted each week. He explained that he wanted to cause some drama on the live portion of the show so that they wouldn’t be able to resist keeping us around, hoping for more fireworks. It seems to have worked — we weren’t eliminated that week.”
At the time, insiders told RadarOnline that ABC was exploring legal options against Solo, but nothing ever came of that.
Similarly, in 2014, NHL player Sean Avery said that his elimination from the show was set after he butted heads with executive producer Conrad Green over his video package.
“I think we knew as of probably Monday last week that our fate was sealed,” Avery told ABC News. “I had a conversation with Conrad, one of the producers, and I was upset at the package that they had brought in the week previous, and it was a very tacky attempt to show me as the bad boy of ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ And I think in reality TV or some sort of competition, if you have a disagreement with the producers then generally that seals your fate quite early.”
At the time, ABC issued a statement (via NJ.com), saying, “Eliminations are based solely on public voting combined with scores from the judges. The double elimination in week two was planned in advance and producers have no hand in determining who is voted off each week.”
But a 2010 “Today” article talks about reality show voting and how producers may not manipulate the actual numbers, but they certainly have “subtle ways” to sway the competition.
The article reads:
Actual numbers may not be tweaked, but producers have more subtle ways to sway public opinion. Exact numbers of votes per contestant are never broadcast, and those “bottom” performers pulled to the side each week just before the losing contestant is announced may not be the lowest-scoring participants.
Sometimes, groups or pairs are put in the “bottom” groupings because producers particularly like them — and want to goose sympathy (and votes, and ratings) with the “shocking” revelation that the contestants might be on their way out.
That would certainly lend credence to the idea that JoJo being in the bottom two was a ploy to get her fans riled up to vote for her.
Finally, a 2014 article from the New York Daily News said that the 32-page contract that contestants sign on “The Voice” basically says that producers can ignore the public votes and change the rules on the contestants at any time. The “Dancing WIth the Stars” contestant contract has never been leaked to the public.
“Dancing With the Stars” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times on ABC.