DWTS took a springtime hiatus before season 28 to supposedly revamp the format. After the season though, I bet the powers-that-be are right back to the drawing board.
Here's an idea for them: REVAMP THE CELEBRITY CAST
I came across something recently that explained that the casting producer chose the celebrity contestants based on the waves they made in the tabloids, often with some input from their family to help broaden appeal. Diversity is a hallmark of the show but at the same time the trigger point for fans and "unfair" eliminations.
During the competition, the contestants land in three categories: the natural talent, the underdogs, and the popular.
The "natural talent" is as the name implies. Maybe the contestants have previous dance experience (I might have another rant concerning that aspect, by the way). Or if they don't, they have some other qualities that lend well to executing great performances and earning high scores.
The "underdogs" are about like the name implies too. they don't have as much as the natural talent but they give what they've got and pull out enough stops for praiseworthy routines as well. "Underdogs" may come to the show with their own story of perseverance and hard work which put them in the limelight in the first place. In addition, they even progress as better performers throughout the show.
Now the "popular" is the opposite end of the spectrum, like mere high school popularity or "Kardashian" kind of popular. They might not have as much of a rags-to-riches-hard-working-to-success story to tell. Their talents might not incline them to quality performances by the judges, but nonetheless they're carried through the competition by star power.
With this perspective of the three kinds of DWTS contestants, look at eliminations now. Tensions flare when the popular trump the natural talent. Or stay another week at the expense of the underdog (who probably just hit their stride too). Or slice it any other way and that's in a nutshell the heart of fan reactions to eliminations.
So, I think a "best in class" approach to the cast could appease enough people. Think like the All-Athletes mini-season. Find the enough of the right people who definitely (or at least likely) fit the bill for natural talent, popular, or underdog and pit that class together instead of every class all at once. While the starpower/popular voting strategy may not completely go away even in this setup, ideally, the playing field is hopefully more level. To look at it another way, the class approach (in my mind) looks like this: Sean Spicer < James Van Der Beek, but Spicer > or = Master P or "Grocery Store Joe" or James Kattan.
Now celebrities as judges because the judges are arguably celebrity cast too: it just has to be done right. If Emma Bunton didn't have a scheduling conflict, I think there could have been FIVE judges at the table for boy band/girl group that night! THAT'S NOT RIGHT. At some point, the celebrity judges essentially pad scores unless they know the experience or craft. Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli, and any of the pros know the craft of ballroom dancing and performance. Joey Fatone and Leah Remini know the experience of DWTS. PITBULL DOES NOT! Three, maybe four, judges who can critique based on technical expertise and competitive experience with the craft or show would be doing it right.
While I can imagine the producer people being worried about recruiting somebody "unknown" if they replaced any of all of the current judges, the veteran judges themselves weren't widely known to the average joes before Strictly and DWTS! Whether they stay or go, their expertise is needed. Maybe with a pair of eyes besides "grumpy Len's" sometimes, but still, the powers-that-be should take a leap in that direction if they did anything else new/different with the show. Maybe hearing from new judges could even sway votes for the contestants. Not in a blatant favoritism way, but maybe inadvertently through what or how they critique.
*"In defense of the Natural Talent rant: I have a bachelor's concentrated in English. I'm a published author/blogger, a writing tutor, and an avid reader. For all my experience, I know different kinds of writing. A biography is going to be written differently than classic fiction. An English class paper is going to be formatted differently than one for Science class. Nonetheless, basic grammar is prevalent throughout whatever I'm writing, reading, or reviewing.
The same principle can be applied to DWTS: ballroom dancing is different than Beyonce back-up dancing or wherever a contestant has former background! They may be ahead of a curve, coming in with some basics under their belt. All the more reason for the "best in class" casting though!
And the Natural Talent category doesn't necessarily comprise only of people with some kind of dance background. Maybe they learn quickly, they have natural rhythm or they're in tune with their bodies, or expression isn't difficult for them. Those in the Natural Talent category just have other things that serve them well for the competition. James, Kel, and Juan Pablo Di Pace were Natural Talent.