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New ‘DWTS’ judge Derek Hough is curious to see ‘another side’ of Carole Baskin

Dancer Derek Hough
Derek Hough is the newest judge on “Dancing With the Stars.”
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)

Six-time “Dancing With the Stars” champion Derek Hough is returning to the competition program as a judge this season — and he’s “just as curious as everybody else” about the casting of “Tiger King” breakout Carole Baskin.

“The show obviously is in a wonderful place to get another side of somebody’s story, another side of somebody’s character — of who they might be and who they are,” Hough told “Good Morning America” on Tuesday. “I’m going to do this with curiosity, but I’m also an optimist ... and I like to give people the benefit of the doubt of giving them an opportunity to show another side of them.”

ABC announced Tuesday morning that Hough, who competed on the series as a pro dancer for nine years and 17 seasons, will replace longtime judge Len Goodman on the Season 29 panel. Hough will join veteran judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli in his new expert role.

In “light of current circumstances, Len Goodman will be unable to judge this season live in the ballroom,” ABC said in a press release, “though he will still be part of the show in a different capacity sharing his ballroom expertise from London.”

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Derek is the second Hough to make the transition from fan-favorite alum to judge on “Dancing With the Stars.” His sister, dancer-actress Julianne Hough, also served as a judge on the show from 2014 to 2017 after winning two coveted Mirrorball titles across four seasons as a pro.

“It’s like coming home,” Derek Hough said after Tuesday’s announcement. “Being a part of that show for so long, having such amazing memories and experiences and triumphs, I’m excited. I can’t wait.”

Last week, ABC unveiled this year’s buzzy celebrity lineup, including Big Cat Rescue owner Baskin, who rose to overnight fame in March as the controversial nemesis of Joe Exotic in Netflix’s hit docuseries “Tiger King.” Other incoming contestants include “Cheer” coach Monica Aldama, “Selling Sunset” star Chrishell Stause, Disney Channel actress Skai Jackson, Grammy-winning rapper Nelly and “Bachelorette” Kaitlyn Bristowe.

The 29th season will also see supermodel Tyra Banks succeed Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews as host in her highly anticipated “Dancing With the Stars” debut.

“I love Tyra,” Hough said. “I’ve met her a couple times and spoken with her, and she has an amazing energy. She’s super creative. So I’m really looking forward to working with her, as well. She’s gonna be great.”

Carole Baskin (“Tiger King”) and Monica Aldama (“Cheer”) will compete on “Dancing With the Stars,” alongside Disney Channel star Skai Jackson and others.

Hough added that he plans to be an “empathetic and very compassionate” judge, who can relate to the dancers and their celebrity partners on a personal level.

“I want to try to inspire and motivate these celebrities to have the best possible time they can have and to get better each week,” Hough said. “I’ve experienced everything they’ve experienced ... there’s nothing they’re going through that I haven’t gone through before, so I understand.”

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The 29th season of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres Sept. 14 on ABC.


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