Amid announcements of new cast members Paula Deen, Nick Carter and Chaka Kahn joining the 21st season of Dancing With the Stars comes word that original judge Len Goodman won’t be returning.
Goodman is opting to stay in the United Kingdom and continue his hosting duties on Strictly Come Dancing (the show on which DWtS is based). Many American viewers don’t realize he’s been making weekly round trips hosting both for years.
He may return as a guest judge. The producers seem to have been prepping for this for a while, adding Julianne Hough (former DWtS pro dancer) as a fourth judge in September 2014.
Will the show go on without him? The answer is likely, yes, but like all shows that lose their toughest professional judge, fans are likely to be unhappy.
Goodman was a fan favorite as the “strict” judge, who was passionate about ballroom in its true form. He added bit of gravity to Carrie Ann Inaba’s tears and whoops and Bruno Tonioli’s sexual innuendos.
A coveted “10 from Len” seemed to hold more weight with the contestants and the pro dancers.
But looking at reality TV history, a major judge upheaval doesn’t usually sink an entire season.
American Idol has run for 6 seasons (including its forthcoming final season) after the departure of the brutally honest Simon Cowell.
America’s Got Talent lost its harsh Brit, Piers Morgan, after season 6. It is in the midst of midst its 10th season, and is still the highest rated summer show.
Even Project Runway swapped Michael Kors for Zac Posen after 10 seasons and has run four seasons with no signs of stopping. And The Voice remains a ratings powerhouse, with a constant panel of rotating coaches, with original members Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green swapping out their rotating seats with Usher, Shakira, Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani.
For story ideas, look at the possible people who are qualified to replace Len Goodman, or perhaps investigate the logistics of a television personality who appears on two shows on different continents simultaneously. How does the show do in your market? How do other reality/judged shows fare where you are?