6:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Dancing With the Stars' Sets New Showrunner for Season 26 (Exclusive)
ABC has a new dance partner on Dancing With the Stars.
Reality veteran Andrew Llinares will take over as showrunner for the forthcoming all-athletes cycle of Dancing With the Stars.
"Dancing With the Stars is one of the largest scale shows on television, and I love that it provides a place for me, as a producer, to have big, ambitious ideas that I can then bring to life," Llinares tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It can be quite the undertaking to come in to a show that has been on the air for 25 seasons, but I’m excited about taking on the challenge and finding new ways to take the show forward."
Llinares moved from the U.K. to L.A. in 2011 to launch Fox's The X Factor as exec producer and showrunner. The Simon Cowell-led series ran for three seasons before being canceled.
Before that, Llinares launched the British version of The X Factor and exec produced the local edition for seven years. During that time, the singing competition series ran three BAFTAs and helped launch the careers of many, including One Direction.
Llinares also launched and exec produced Britain's Got Talent — the show on which Susan Boyle's performance became a viral sensation. He started his career as a journalist before moving to television at Granada Television in the U.K. He also exec produced and directed Pop Idol, the forerunner to American Idol.
"The challenge is to find a way to hold on to the key values of the show, while moving it forward while keeping current and fresh," Llinares says of his goals for DWTS. "It’s definitely about evolution rather than revolution. Story and emotion are absolutely key for me. With that in mind, I want us to find ways to make the stories on the show even more compelling and the emotional connection which the viewer has to the performances, even stronger. I also want us to come up with ideas that surprise and excite the viewers every week so that they keep coming back for more."
The forthcoming 26th season of Dancing With the Stars will be an all-athletes edition, with Llinares declining to reveal his dream gets for the cast — an obvious go-to would be Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon — but he hopes the themed season will bring an "entirely new dynamic" to the veteran series. "Over the years, many athletes who’ve participated as the celebrity dancers on DWTS have gone on to win the Mirror Ball trophy; they are used to training and competing, so they tend to do very well. I think we’ll see an intensity and level of competition that we may never have seen before on the show."
Llinares is repped by CAA. Dancing With the Stars, produced by BBC Worldwide, returns April 30 on ABC.