Dancing With the Stars season 29 premieres on September 14, and this season will look different than most. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, new rules and formats are in place to maintain safety on the show’s set. In addition, longtime DWTS judge Len Goodman will not be able to serve on the panel this season.
Goodman neither quit nor was fired. Goodman lives in England, and while normally he would travel back and forth between the UK and Los Angeles, California for weekly live tapings of Dancing With the Stars COVID-19 and the current travel restrictions in place have made that impossible this year.
Back in June, Goodman alluded to the possibility of him not being able to judge on season 29 on Dancing With the Stars. He told The Sun, “I like going over there because it’s ten weeks of being in the sun and I only work one day a week. But of course there’s this lockdown thing at the moment with only Americans being able to fly in to America or if you’ve got a green card. I haven’t got either of those so who knows. It might all come good but if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ve had a wonderful time, 12 years with Strictly and I’ve had 12 years with Dancing With The Stars and both have been great.”
Goodman Will Be Replaced on the Season 29 Judges’ Panel by ‘DWTS’ Alum Derek Hough
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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!
While Goodman will not be judging in the ballroom this season, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli will be joined by a new judge, beloved Dancing With the Stars alum Derek Hough. Hough served as a pro on the show from 2007 until 2016. He competed on 17 seasons of the show and earned a total of 6 mirrorball trophy wins, the most out of any DWTS pro in the show’s history.
Hough told Good Morning America that he believes his extensive experience on the show prepared him to empathize with and support the competing cast, saying “I was on the show for 17 seasons, so there’s nothing they’ll go through that I haven’t gone through.”
Goodman is known by DWTS fans as the strictest judge, so Hough has big shoes to fill this season. When asked on GMA about the kind of judge he plans to be, he said, “One thing I can’t hide are my expressions… 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.”
On Instagram, Hough shared the exciting news with his fans and reflected on what it means to him to be rejoining the cast in a new role. He wrote, “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!”
Goodman’s Absence Is One of Many ‘DWTS’ Casting Changes for Season 29
Hough stepping in as a judge in place of Goodman is not the only major casting change for Dancing With the Stars season 29. Fans were shocked to learning that hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews were not asked back to the ballroom for season 29. They were fired and replaced by the show’s new host Tyra Banks.
Fan-favorite dance pros Lindsay Arnold and Witney Carson will both be sitting out from the competition this season, as they are both currently pregnant. Arnold is due to have a baby girl in November 2020, and Carson is expecting a son in January 2021. Replacing them in the season 29 competing cast are two new female pros, Britt Stewart and Daniella Karagach.
Before GMA confirmed Hough’s role as judge, Banks told ET that the show was trying to find a way to make it possible for Goodman to still be a part of the show’s 2020 season. She said, “Carrie Ann is definitely back, and Bruno, who I can’t wait to vibe with because he is just as crazy as I am. At the moment, we’re trying to figure out how to incorporate Len Goodman because he is in England and there’s all these travel restrictions because of COVID-19. So we’re trying to figure that out.”
Dancing With the Stars season 29 airs on Monday nights at 8/7c on ABC.