Professional dancer Derek Hough has won Dancing With the Stars six times as a pro, but he was notably absent from the show in the past few seasons. For Season 29, however, Hough returns to the show in an all-new role.
This year, instead of being a professional dancer matched up with one of the many celebrities, Hough will take on judging duties. He’s no stranger to judging reality dance television shows; Hough is a three-time judge on Jennifer Lopez’s World of Dance, where dancers from all over the world compete for the title of Best Dancer in the World.
Prior to the announcement that he would be a judge on the season, his role was teased by ABC, calling it a “mystery role.”
Derek Hough Will Be a Judge on DWTS This Season
Hough is stepping in to the judging panel this year, replacing long-time judge Len Goodman. It’s not clear whether Goodman is gone for good, but he was not able to travel back to the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading the show to find someone else to fill his role.
“One thing I can’t hide are my expressions,” Hough said when asked about how he’ll judge pairs on the show on Good Morning America. “But I’ll be fair, I’ll be honest… but more importantly, I want to inspire these celebrities to have the best time possible and get better each week.”
According to Variety, the show is still working on ways to incorporate Goodman into the show, since he can’t be with the cast and crew physically.
Hough Will Be Joining Two Long-Time Judges
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Cats out of the bag:) Looking forward to being Back in the Ballroom. This show has and will always be incredibly special to me. This show has gifted me with so many memories and priceless experiences. Amazing relationships, growth, triumphs, failures, struggles, fears, celebrations, fun and just pure entertainment. I look forward to returning as a judge. I hope to be fair, fun, encouraging, honest, helpful, compassionate and I look forward to watching these amazing journeys unfold. See you soon. And good luck to all the competitors this season. Work Hard! Have Fun!
Hough will be joining two long-time judges, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, and he’ll be sitting eight feet apart from the other judges in a safety precaution for COVID-19.
“It’s not even like a COVID-safety thing,” Hough joked with Variety. “It’s just a phycial safety thing because between Bruno waving his arms and me waving my arms… we’d just be hitting each other.”
He also lamented the loss of a live audience, saying that if he was a pro, he would like to have the audience there. He stated that for viewers, though, there shouldn’t be much of a difference in the feel of the show.
Rob Mills, ABC Entertainment’s Senior Vice President of alternative series, specials, and late night programming, told Variety that many people were nervous about how production would be handled, and plenty of celebrities chose not to compete this season.
“There was certainly a fair share of celebrities, who rightly so, said, ‘I’m really nervous about the business and it could be interesting next season but don’t think I can do this right now,” Mills said. “But most people, I think especially after hearing how the precautions and the safety measures that were being put in, were game.”
This season will be hosted by Tyra Banks and includes celebrities A.J. McLean, Nelly, Carole Baskin, Monica Aldama, Jesse Metcalfe, Anne Heche, Johnny Weir, Vernon Davis, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Justina Machado, Charles Oakley, Jeannie Mai, Skai Jackson, Chrishell Stause and Nev Schulman.
Dancing With the Stars airs at 8 p.m. on Monday nights on ABC.