Will Len Goodman Be Replaced On 'Dancing With The Stars'? He Has Big Ballroom Dance Shoes To Fill

If Dancing With The Stars were a jazzy, disco ball of a human being, that human being would be hitting legal drinking age right about now. The competitive celebrity dance phenomenon's 21st season kicks (and kick-ball-changes) off Monday, so prepare your meticulous score sheets and rally your Fantasy DWTS league. 13 new star hopefuls will be lacing up their dancing shoes and hoping to impress both the audience at home and the panel in the ballroom. That panel will looked markedly different this time around. Len Goodman is leaving, and the show is losing the ballroom dance expert who never failed to add sophistication, class, and an appreciation for the technical to the series. So, is Dancing With The Stars planning on replacing Goodman with a new, permanent panelist?

The long-time judge's shoes aren't easy ones to fill. Goodman spent every one of the show's first 20 seasons encouraging and advising dancers, as well as giving the audience at home crash course in the art form. The 71-year-old has earned a breather, though he won't be enjoying complete retirement yet. Goodman is committed to remain the lead judge on Dancing With The Star's British predecessor, Strictly Come Dancing. And, in the interest of spending more time with his family, Digital Spy reports that Goodman has no intention of "flying backwards and forwards" for another year.

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Between pulling double judging duty on the shows themselves for so long, plus fulfilling associated promotional duties (including a Strictly live tour), Goodman's previous work schedule was more suited for Iron Man than a mere mortal, dapper and charming though he may be. No it's time he saves those frequent flyer miles for a beach vacation.

Goodman's departure is certainly a loss to the Dancing With The Stars family, but perhaps not a shock. Last season, former Pro Julianne Hough was added to the dais, bringing the judging panel up to a group of four. Hough will be returning in that capacity this season, as will Goodman's long-serving colleagues Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. Was Hough added when she was in order to give her a cycle to get fully acclimated and paddle-savvy in anticipation of Goodman eventually leaving the team? Perhaps.

Dancing With The Stars can and does function with a three-person panel, so the main impetus for filling Goodman's spot would be to round out personalities and judging styles. Still, the producers are in no rush to cast "the new Len." Executive Producer Rob Wade told TV Guide that the show isn't planning to add anyone short term or long term.

Julianne [Hough], Carrie Ann [Inaba] and Bruno [Tonioli] are a great judging panel, and they’ve got a lot of experience between them … Sometimes if you have four judges, their comments can repeat themselves. And that’s not really entertaining for the viewer.

I don't blame DWTS for not replacing Goodman just yet. He's a legend, and it'll take some getting used to to see the score table without him. Fortunately, he leaves behind three unique, expert judges, so the show will be just as well-scored as ever!

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