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November 26, 2014

Derek Hough on 'Dancing With the Stars' Judges: 'They've Been the Same Since Season 1'

by Crystal Bell, posted Nov 21st 2011 2:15PM
dancing with the stars finals derek houghFor eight seasons, Derek Hough has been the golden boy of 'Dancing With the Stars.' He has won the coveted Mirror Ball trophy all three times he's made it to the finals, and many believe that his work with celebrity partner Ricki Lake this season on the newly redone dance floor will earn him a fourth.

You might be surprised to know, then, that he's not especially worried about extending his perfect record. "Previous seasons, I've definitely felt the pressure to win, like it was mine to lose and, luckily, I won, but this season I don't feel that sort of pressure," Hough tells AOL TV. "I really like everyone that's in the final, and I think whoever wins totally deserves it."

With the grand finale of Season 13 looming (Mon., Nov. 21 at 8PM ET), AOL TV caught up with Hough to talk about his freestyle finale plans, the possibility of new judges and his laid-back new attitude -- one that apparently doesn't prevent him from throwing a few friendly jabs at fellow pro Karina Smirnoff.

You and Ricki have been rehearsing like crazy, so what can you tell me about the finals?

For our freestyle, I wanted the routine to be a reflection of how far she's come -- and her physical changes too. We want to show that off. She's willing to push herself, and this dance will show how far she's willing to go.

Every time you've been in a final, you've walked away with the Mirror Ball. Do you feel any pressure to repeat?

No, not really. They've been playing that up, asking me how it feels to have a perfect record, but it's not really about that. I feel really good about the work we've done this season. We've done some memorable stuff. It's going to be a fun final. Previous seasons, I've definitely felt the pressure to win, like it was mine to lose and, luckily, I won, but this season, I don't feel that sort of pressure. I really like everyone that's in the final, and I think whoever wins totally deserves it. They've all earned it.

There was some drama a few weeks ago with Maks, but otherwise it seems to have been a fun season for the dancers and the celebrities.

You know, all of the dancers have been on tour together and have gotten really close in the last few years. When the Maks drama happened in the middle of the season, it was like, There's no drama between us. He may have drama, but it's not with us.

What do you have to say to people who believe that you're the judges' favorite?

I come from a theatrical background, where, if you're working on a movie or a play, you always respect the people you work with. You're accommodating. If I get criticism or if the producer tells me that I need to do something, and I have five minutes to do it, instead of saying, 'That's impossible, I can't do this,' I'm like, 'Okay, let's make this happen.' I have a very can-do attitude. I've always believed in doing good work and preparing my partner for what the judges might say. I never want Ricki to be caught off guard. There's always a possibility that the judges won't like something. It's not like they give me 10s every time.

Do you think that it's fine for the judges to have a different standard for each contestant?

See, this is the thing, and I think this is why there's been so much drama lately. In our competitive world, it is truly about who's the best. This isn't just a dance show. There are so many more elements to it. For me, there have been plenty of times where I've disagreed with what the judges have said and with their scores, not just with me and with my partner, but with other people too. I've been like, 'Oh, that's interesting.' But really, after 13 seasons, the judges haven't changed. They're no different than they were in Season 1. It's not like they've started judging differently or they're making different comments. They haven't been meaner. They haven't been nicer. They've been the same since Season 1. So for me, it's not about them changing or being different, it's about the way we perceive it and the way we come into it and prepare ourselves for it.

If they decided to get new judges, would you support that decision?

Sure. I mean, why not? But why fix something that's not broken? They've become iconic parts of the show. It's kind of become pop culture, so I think to take them out and put new judges in would be like when Simon Cowell left 'American Idol.' It just disrupts the dynamic. They're a sold part of the show.

Tom Bergeron recently suggested that the show should air one season per year, instead of two. Do you agree? Would you like a longer break?

Honestly, I wouldn't mind that at all. It would definitely free me to do other ventures and projects that I want to do. It would give me time to pursue those. I think we should do the show once per year, but they should pay us twice as much. That would be great!

What are Ricki's strengths as a dancer? Her footwork always looks phenomenal.

She's a hard worker. She's absolutely relentless, and she allows me to push her and to be tough on her. That in itself is an asset, because sometimes my partners have been a bit precious, but with Ricki I can be tough on her. She works hard, and she keeps going. That's a good thing.

She definitely has that never-say-never attitude, so what has been her biggest struggle?

Just the stamina, I think, just trying to get through everything. It takes a lot of energy.

I know that she had a hard time with her shoulders, which is actually something I never even noticed. It was such a technical critique.

It's definitely been a common problem within our routines. We've been trying to keep her shoulders down. I think she's got it down now. I really feel good about our routine this week, and hopefully we do a good job. I think the result is out of our hands. All I really care about is going out there and doing a good job. I want us to end on a high note.

What's been your most memorable moment from this season?

I think the 'Psycho' tango was a fun one, and I think Ricki executed the shadow dancing really well. It was a good one. I also enjoyed our quickstep and the paso doble was really fun, where she was Little Red Riding Hood. I think that each routine was thought out. There was never a routine where I thought we phoned it in. There was a lot of thought in every routine this season.

After Tuesday night, it's a wrap for Season 13, so what are your post-season plans?

I'm going on a vacation, which I'm really excited about. That should be fun. I'm actually co-hosting 'Live!' with Kelly Ripa, which should be a lot of fun. Regis has always been a huge supporter of mine, and I always have a good time on the show.

You also recently wrapped a film project. Is that what you want to focus on? Do you want to do more acting?

Oh, absolutely. It's just a matter of finding the time to do all of the things I want to do. I went to a theater arts school, so I'm interested in many different projects, whether it be film, television or even live theater. I'm a performer. That's what I do. That's what I want to do.

Well, when your first acting project is 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,' I think you're automatically destined for greatness.

In the very first film, we were in the Great Hall in Pinewood Studios in England, and we were just kids. I still have the Ravenclaw robes that I wore, and I have cutlery that I stole from the Great Hall. I have some fun little things from the set. [But] I'm not going to lie. At the time, it ruined all of the movies for me. The magic was gone. We were still in school, so Chris Columbus would yell, 'Cut!,' and we would have to go to school in these trailers on set. We would be up until 5 a.m., and then we'd have to go to school, so it was intense, but definitely unforgettable.

'Dancing With the Stars' two-part Season 13 finale airs Mon., Nov. 21 at 8PM ET and Tues., Nov. 22 at 9PM ET on ABC.

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Liz

Last evening I had to turn off "Dancing with the Stars." The Judges said: Ricki and Derek were in first place.
Ron and his partner in second and JR and his partner in third place. That was with the judges and the count
each couple had on the charts. For Riki and Derek to be taken off as third place, just floored me.
I understand peoples vote and etc. But someone really "worked it" in order to get that many votes for JR. Please
don't misunderstand me. I know he's a hero and God Bless him. I lost a husband in the war who was a hero as well, so I understand all of that, We're talking about dancing!!!!! Not personalities!

November 23 2011 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
yovorsky

We and most of our friends here in The Villages have almost stopped watching "Dancing with the Stars" because of the judges. They should get new judges for each season. They the judges think they are the main part of the show, they are not..the dancers are! These judges have to go!!!!!

November 22 2011 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vern

Dancing with the Stars" has been a favorite program with my wife and I. Derek has been our favorite as well as the other dancers both pro's and amateurs. The judges kind of rile us at times but on the whole it a good show.

November 22 2011 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
colleendandurand

jr IS MY FAVORITE, i LIKE ALL THE PROS, ESPECIALLY mAX

November 22 2011 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shekeepsondancin

After dancing with Arthur Murray Studios for almost eight years, footwork and form are very important to me and my fellow amateur dancers! We all competed in both the local AMS studio contests and their international contests. Watching Dancing with the Stars makes me wince quite often. I've found the dancers I've admired the most are the ones that don't do all the fancy stuff ... but just concentrate on feet, form and grace.

November 22 2011 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cher

THE JUDGES, THEY NEED TO TONE IT DOWN A BIT, THEY ARENT THE END ALL BE ALL, AND IT APPEARS THAT WITH OUT DWTS, IF THEY DIDNT HAVE THIS GIG, THEY WOULDNT BE WORKING. NO ONE DIED AND LEFT THEM THE DANCE GODS TROPHY. INPUT IS ONE THING, BUT DOWNRIGHT MEAN INSULTS IS CRAP AND SHOULDNT BE ALLOWED. ID LIKE TO SEE THOSE JUDGES DO THOSE DANCES. THEY SHOULD HAVE A SEGMENT WHERE THAT HAPPENS, LET THEM DANCE WITH THE PROS. WHAT EXCUSE WOULD THEY HAVE THEN.
I DONT THINK LEN COULD HANDLE IT, HE BARELY HANDLED THE TWIST WITH CHUBBY CHECKERS, AND DONT TOSS HIS AGE UP AT ME, BUZZ ALDREN GOT RIPPED A NEW BUTT FROM THOSE JUDGES,

November 22 2011 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
thatsmoe4

Is dancing with the stars going to be back next season, I heard this was the last. Would like to know I really enjoy it. Thanks

November 22 2011 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cher

OH YEAH, AND AS FAR AS JR AND HIM GETTING AN INTERVIEW OTHER DANCERS DIDNT, IF YOU WENT THROUGH WHAT HE HAS GONE THROUGH, YOU TOO WOULD DESERVE A SPOTLIGHT OF SOME KIND, GIVE IT A BREAK, WHATS THE BIG DEAL, IF YOU DONT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT DONT WATCH IT OR DONT READ IT, NO ONES FORCING ANYONE TO DO EITHER, ITS ALL ABOUT CHOICE. AND WE ALL HAVE CHOICES RIGHT???

November 22 2011 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cher

THEIR ALL GOOD, BUT THE SHOW ISNT JUST ABOUT WHOS GOOD OR WHOSE THE BEST. THE SHOW IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT CELEBS WHO DO NOT HAVE DANCING TRAINING OF ANY KIND WHO COME INTO THE BALLROOM AND GO FROM BEING UNEXPERIENCED TO LEARNING AND IMPROVING EVERY WEEK, ROB HAS DONE THAT, RICKY LAKE HAS DANCING EXPERIENCE AS DO ALL THE CELEBS THAT DERICK IS PAIRED WITH. JR DIDNT HAVE THE PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE AND HE TOO HAS COME ALONG WAY WEEK AFTER WEEK..
DERICK IS A GREAT DANCER BUT HE REALLY NEEDS TO GET SOMEONE TO PARTNER TO REALLY TEACH WHO DOESNT HAVE THE DANCING EXPERIENCE. IT ISNT FAIR AT ALL THE OTHER PRO DANCERS GET THE TUFF ONES AND DERIK SAILS THROUGH IT WITH JUST A FEW BUMPS.
AND NOT THAT IM A ROB K. FAN, I DONT WATCH ANY OF HIS SHOWS WITH HOS FAMILY, BUT THE REALITY IS, HE CAME ON THIS SHOW WITH 2 LEFT FEET, AND VERY CLUTZY AND HAD NO CONFIDENCE, AND NOW HES MOVING, HES NOT SHY, AND HE HAS GROWN BIGTIME, LET HIM ALONE ALREADY.

November 22 2011 at 10:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eljake

I suppose Derek is correct in saying the judges haven´t change much, other than becoming more rude and insulting with some of their commens. They have always shown favoratism towards certain celebrities and certainly toward Derek, although he did not acknowledge that nor actually answer the question about being the judge´s favorite. And I don`t think Ricki`s comments about wanting to quit bespeak a never say die attitude; guess I have a different definition of that. As for me, I`m hoping for a JR/Karina First Place Finish.

November 22 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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