Maksim Chmerkovskiy isn't returning to "Dancing With the Stars" this season.
Rumors have been swirling around Maks for a while -- is he quitting? Was he fired? What's going on? Chmerkovskiy released a statement this morning confirming that, regardless of how he's leaving, it's definitely happening:
I just want to set the record straight to all of my amazing fans that I will unfortunately not be returning for this season of "Dancing With the Stars." I’ve been a pro dancer on the show for about seven years now and am eager to explore other opportunities that have been made possible because of the show. I'm going to take this time to dive into producing and acting, while fulfilling my sponsorship obligations.
A big thank you to all of my fans for your never-ending support. I also want to thank the entire cast and production of "Dancing With the Stars."
[Related: 'DWTS' Season 16 cast list announced!]
The statement itself is boilerplate, and doesn't really tell us whether he's got acting gigs lined up, or whether the judges (and/or fellow pro and show nemesis Derek Hough) just got sick of him sassing them. Certainly the Hope Solo fracas isn't mentioned. Also, Chmerkovskiy is still technically under contract with the show.
But other "DWTS" pros have moved on from the show to significant success, with Julianne Hough at the head of the pack. Hough has starred in films like "Footloose" and "Rock of Ages," released a charting country single in 2007, and is in "Safe Haven" opposite Josh Duhamel, in theaters now. (It was announced just today that Julianne and brother Derek have a ballroom-dancing drama in the works at Starz.)
Lacey Schwimmer has appeared as a featured singer on singles since her last "DWTS" appearance in 2012, and released her own single in 2011. While Alec Mazo is less visible, he won the first "DWTS" season with partner Kelly Monaco, then went to Stanford Business School to get his MBA, and now runs a production company. Dmitry Chaplin, last seen competing in Season 12, has returned to the show as a choreographer, and was nominated for an Emmy for his efforts.
So while all the pros might not scale Hough heights, there's life after the show -- good news for other pros who didn't make the cut for Season 16. A show rep shrugged that it's not uncommon to "rotate" the pros so they can "rest for a cycle" -- so we'll see if familiar "DWTS" faces like Peta Murgatroyd (second best name in TV, behind Benedict Cumberbatch), Anna Trebunskaya (two 11th-place finishes running), and Louis van Amstel return for future seasons. (Chelsie Hightower, who finished 10th last season, likely won't return.)
Taking their places: Latin ballroom specialist Lindsay Arnold, a Provo, Utah native and "So You Think You Can Dance" vet; Australian Sharna Burgess, promoted from the "DWTS" troupe and a performer at the Olympics in Sydney; and Gleb Savchenko, a multi-discipline star (he trained in karate as a kid) who's appeared on Australian "DWTS."
Are you bummed that Maks is leaving? Psyched for new pro blood on the show? Wondering what the aitch Andy Dick is doing on the show? Work it out in the comments!
Julianne Hough tells the ladies of "The View" about "Safe Haven," below:
"Dancing With the Stars" airs its two-hour season premiere March 18 on ABC.