Quickstepping toward a new beginning! Dancing With the Stars pros Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Derek Hough and Cheryl Burke will ditch their past rivalries as they head into season 23 of the ABC competition series, the three vets exclusively reveal in the new issue of Us Weekly.
Though Chmerkovskiy, who is known as the bad boy of the ballroom for passionately speaking his mind to the judges, has accused the show of favoring six-time champ Hough, he says he’s since dropped the beef. “I don’t have a rivalry with Derek. Derek may have a rivalry with me, but I don’t have one,” the Ukrainian hunk, 36, tells Us. “I just literally said everything that everybody else thinks. Listen, I don’t have a problem with Derek. The producers have changed and it’s different now.”
Naturally, Hough, 31, is proud of his success. “I’ve been very fortunate with partners,” admits the 16-time pro, who placed second in 2014 with double amputee Amy Purdy. “But I will also say that it’s not rigged. Production has said to me, honestly, ‘People are complaining, so we’re going to give you this partner, because it seems more difficult.’ Then I ended up winning.”
He’s also not dwelling on allegations. “Whatever somebody else says about me, that’s only a reflection on how they feel and how they are,” he continues. “I just say, ‘Look, I’m putting in the work. I don’t want to get caught up in it. I don’t need extra drama.’”
For her part, the single Burke understands both sides. “People are like, ‘Derek has six mirrorball trophies!’ But that’s because Derek is talented,” says Burke, who took off seasons 20 to 22. “When I won my first two seasons, people thought it was being rigged for me!”
Sure, the finger-pointing is gone. But Chmerkovskiy, expecting his first child in January with pro fiancée Peta Murgatroyd, predicts he’ll still make headlines for his, er, openness. “I’m the person who will say something and just move on. It’s like the Trump effect. This guy says some s–t and then everybody is like, ‘Oh, my God, what did he say?’ and he just goes on with his life,” explains the season 18 winner, who triumphed with Olympian Meryl Davis. “But I’ve benefited tremendously from speaking my mind. I’ve also turned off a lot of people. I have a new understanding that there is more than one way of getting things done. We’ll see if I can exercise that. If not, I’ll go back to saying crazy s–t!
For more secrets — their hookups, difficult partners and wardrobe malfunctions — pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands beginning Wednesday, August 31.
Dancing With the Stars season 23 premieres on ABC Monday, September 12, at 8 p.m. ET. Chmerkovskiy will dance with Amber Rose, Burke with Olympian Ryan Lochte and Hough with actress Marilu Henner.
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