Contestants in ABC's ballroom dancing competition, which kicks off on Tuesday, will now vie for the Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy, executive producer Conrad Green tells USA TODAY exclusively.
Tuesday's premiere episode will pause to honor Goodman by unveiling the new, redesigned trophy.
"The Len Goodman Mirrorball Trophy will now be lifted on 'Dancing With the Stars' like the Vince Lombardi trophy is lifted at the Super Bowl," says Green. "We wanted to make Len a permanent part of this show, to always remind people the importance he's had to 'Dancing With the Stars' and how much he meant to all of us."
Green promises Tuesday's dedication will be "a really moving moment. Len loves this show and will always be there, looking down on us."
A former professional ballroom dancer and British champion, Goodman was the head judge on Britain's "Strictly Come Dancing" for 12 years, starting with its BBC launch in 2004, and was named head judge for "DWTS" when it premiered the next year. He held the title for 31 seasons, retiring in 2022.
Goodman’s pithy and pun-filled observations, delivered in a Cockney accent, endeared him to viewers, and his expertise earned respect from the professional ballroom contestants.
"Len always had a twinkle in his eye and a brilliant turn of phrase. He was very fair and knew what he was talking about," says Green. "The respect he brought made the show stand on its own two feet. The dancers always wanted to know what Len thought of their performance."
Green promises another tribute to Goodman later this season, "with a proper look back" at his career, video tributes and performances. But the trophy tribute with the new cast "will be fitting for a season that is a bit of a restart," says Green.
When does 'DWTS' air? Will it stream on Disney+?
Season 31 of "DWTS" was streamed exclusively on Disney+ in 2022, part of what was supposed to be a three-year deal. Yet, "DWTS" returns to its original network ABC for its expanded Tuesday night premiere (8 EDT/PDT).
Besides being part of ABC's reality show-filled, strike-proof primetime lineup, "DWTS" will also continue to stream live on Disney+, which Green calls "the best of all worlds," and will also stream the next day on Hulu.
The last time ABC aired "DWTS" in 2021, the show was filmed in an audience-free studio due to COVID-19 protocols. Tuesday's show will highlight the network's return to a live studio audience, which is "so important for bringing that live energy," says Green.
Who will replace Len Goodman as 'DWTS' judge
Original judges Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli are back, joined by six-time champion dancer Derek Hough. No permanent fourth judge will replace Goodman, and none of the trio will assume Goodman's title of head judge.
"We didn't think that title was necessary," says Green. "We started the show with three judges, and it's a good number. We'll occasionally bring in extra guest judges for a fresh opinion."
After three seasons as host, Tyra Banks is stepping away and will be replaced by two-time Mirrorball champion (and former judge) Julianne Hough (Derek's sister), who joins former "DWTS" champ Alfonso Ribeiro as host. (Ribeiro will be the primary emcee, while Hough will conduct post-dance interviews in the skybox.)
"Julianne's skills and depth of knowledge will bring insight to those chats we've never had before," says Green. The pairing also represents the first time both hosts have had real ballroom dance experience.
"It's a really dynamic pairing that will allow them to dance in opening numbers and at other show moments," says Green. "It's all about the show's evolution."
Which stars are on 'DWTS' season 32?
The Season 32 cast includes "Vanderpump Rules" star Ariana Madix, former "Bachelorette" Charity Lawson, "Zoey 101" star Jamie Lynn Spears, "How I Met Your Mother" star Alyson Hannigan, reality TV star Harry Jowsey ("Too Hot to Handle"), NFL running back Adrian Peterson, supermodel Tyson Beckford, "I'm Yours" singer Jason Mraz, Marvel star Xochitl Gomez, actress Mira Sorvino, YouTuber Lele Pons, “The Brady Bunch” star Barry Williams, "Veep" star Matt Walsh and "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Mauricio Umansky.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'DWTS' Mirrorball Trophy to honor judge Len Goodman: ABC show preview