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JAN
10
3 YEARS

TCA: ABC Admits 'Weak' 'Dancing With the Stars' Casting, Still Sees Many More Seasons

"That show refreshes itself," says ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, acknowledging that the casting isn't always top notch.

J.R. Martinez, Karina Smirnoff
ABC

Given the ratings dip of the recent run of Dancing With the Stars and the frequent mockery of the series' definition of "celebrity," it's natural to wonder what kind of future the reality flagship has on ABC.

"I personally think Dancing With the Stars has many many more years to come," ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "That show refreshes itself."

The refreshing he speaks of depends entirely on casting, something Lee noted the series isn't always consistent about.

"Obviously each year the casting kind of tells you where it [will] come out," said Lee. "We thought we started with a weaker cast this year, and then look what J.R. [Martinez] did."

The biggest unknown of the cast did go on to win the Season 13 trophy and has since enjoyed a healthy run in the media spotlight by the show's standards. It's that kind of surprise, Lee noted, and the different types of "star" that can win favor with viewers that has kept the network invested in the series.

"Sometimes its controversial, like Bristol Palin, sometimes it's somebody who brings a nostalgic element," said Lee, "and sometimes its someone people just love -- like Kirstie Alley."

So many seasons in, Lee also tried to convince the crowd to have some perspective on the type of talent they're able to recruit.

"When you look back at the early seasons," said  the level of celebrity isn't what it is now."