Variety shows are back in style We explain the newest trend in summer -- TV with shows like ''Dancing with the Stars'' and ''Hit Me Baby One More Time''

By Nicholas Fonseca
Updated June 13, 2005 at 12:00 PM EDT

Variety shows are back in style

In the grand tradition of the summer replacement series of the ’70s — The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Dinah and Her New Best Friends, and mime team Shields and Yarnell (remember those guys?) — ABC’s new Dancing With the Stars and NBC’s Hit Me Baby One More Time seem poised to kick off a surge of popular warm-weather variety shows. Stars‘ debut was the highest-rated show of its night with 13.5 million viewers, while 8.9 million tuned in to watch once-popular musical acts slaughter new hits on Hit Me. Not since the Me Decade have such cheesy choices — CeCe Peniston! Joey McIntyre! Beyoncé’s ”Crazy in Love” played by an 15-piece orchestra! — been so in vogue, and Hit Me exec producer Michael Agbabian is hardly surprised. ”I said to an NBC exec last Christmas that variety would come back, and she just mocked me,” he recalls. ”I figured America was tired of dating shows, hoax shows, and complicated competitions that change when there’s a twist in the fifth episode.” Adds Stars exec producer Conrad Green: ”No one’s being hurt and no one is being humiliated.” Well, we wouldn’t go that far: Evander Holyfield garnered quite a few laughs around these here parts with his constipated take on the cha-cha.