It appears as if Len Goodman, head judge on Dancing With the Stars, might not be physically returning to the ballroom for Season 29. During an interview promoting the season premiere, new host Tyra Banks told reporters that coronavirus travel restrictions are complicating matters for Goodman, whose primary residence is in England.
"I know we're really trying to figure out how to incorporate Len in this season," Banks said, TV Insider reports. "Because of the travel restrictions right now there are challenges, but we're trying to figure that out." She added that Goodman's fellow judges, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli, are both returning. "Carrie Ann is definitely back, and Bruno, who I can't wait to vibe with because he is just as crazy as I am," she said. Goodman, 76, has been present for nearly every season of DWTS since its inception in 2005.
The reality dance competition recently released its full lineup of celebrities competing this season, making headlines with names like Nelly, Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean and — perhaps most controversially — Tiger King subject Carole Baskin. Each of the 15 famous contestants will be paired with one of the show's pro dancers, who will coach them along their journey to the Mirrorball Trophy. Most notably, the show teased the return of pro dancer Derek Hough, who has not competed for several seasons, in a mystery role to be announced later. Some fans are wondering if he is returning to take Goodman's place at the judges' table, or to possibly stand next to Banks as a co-host.
"Yeah, Derek is coming back in a very interesting way," Banks told Entertainment Tonight coyly. "I am very excited about that because I know Derek and he's fun. But you just gonna have to wait and see how he's coming back. You'll know next week!" Hough's official role will be revealed on Good Morning America on Tuesday.
Banks' involvement is also controversial after longtime co-hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews were let go from the show. Andrews — who co-hosted for the past six years — recently called her exit a "surprise," while Bergeron — who co-hosted since the show's beginning — insinuated that he was also not expecting the news when he announced it earlier this summer. "[I was] just informed [Dancing With the Stars] will be continuing without me," he tweeted in July, calling the experience an "incredible 15 year run" and the "most unexpected gift of my career."
Banks gave a loving shout-out to Bergeron during her interview with ET. "Tom, I respect you so much," she gushed. "What you have done for Dancing With the Stars, there's a reason why it is a successful show. Yes, amazing producers, yes, amazing concepts, but [you]. I hope to do you proud, and if I make mistakes, I want you to hit me up in the DMs and let me know. Like, 'Girl, you messed that up.' Because I want to make you proud. Thank you so much."
Season 29 of Dancing With the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.