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Julianne Hough

The Hough siblings will both be "Dancing With the Stars" again this season.

And over at "American Idol," when Simon, Paula and Randy return to Salt Lake City for the next round of judging, they won't be alone. They'll be joined by a fourth judge, Kara DioGuardi, who's been added to try to bring some new life to a show that saw its ratings slip a bit last season.

Two-time "Dancing" winner Julianne Hough returns for her fourth season. And the Alta High grad made it clear that she's not taking time out from her burgeoning country music career simply because she's contractually obligated.

There have been reports that she signed a contract that forced her to do another season. But in a recent interview with TV critics, she said she'd be happy to do another season of "Dancing."

"I don't think it's whether I have to or not. I'd love to be on the show," said Hough, who didn't want to comment on her contract status. "And being on the show gives me the kind of exposure I couldn't get otherwise."

She'll be paired with the youngest-ever "Star" on "Dancing." Cody Linley, who plays Jake Ryan on "Hannah Montana," is only 18, although he'll turn 19 in November, about the time the dance competition will be wrapping up.

With Linley, at least Hough might have a chance to add a third title to the ones she won with Apolo Anton Ohno and Helio Castroneves. Last time around, she was paired with Adam Carolla, which she said was "fun."

"There was no pressure — we knew we weren't going to win," Hough said.

Julianne's older brother, Derek, returns for his third season. He's partnered with actress/TV host Brooke Burke. And his bandmate/last season's winner, Mark Ballas, is teamed with reality show star Kim Kardashian.

The Houghs lived with Ballas' parents while they trained in London.

"Hey, the exposure on the show is great," Derek Hough told the Deseret News. "If it helps us get the music going, that's fantastic."

Hough and Ballas perform as Almost Amy.

"But it's just a lot of fun," Derek Hough said. "And I've got to beat (Ballas) the next time."

While Julianne Hough is teamed with the youngest contestant ever, Ballas' father, Corky, will be dancing with the oldest. TV legend Cloris Leachman is joining the competition at the age of 82.

Despite ABC's efforts to keep the cast list a secret, there weren't many surprises. The list includes:

• Singer Lance Bass, paired with newcomer Lacey Schwimmer.

• Singer Toni Braxton, paired with Season 1 winner Alec Mazo.

• Celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito, paired with Karina Smirnoff, who returns for her fifth season.

• Gold medal-winning sprinter Maurice Greene, paired with two-time winner Cheryl Burke.

• Soap-opera diva Susan Lucci, paired with Tony Dovolani (sixth season).

• Misty May-Treanor, who just won her second beach-volleyball gold medal in Beijing, paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy (fifth season).

• Actor Ted McGinley, paired with newcomer Inna Brayer.

• Comedian Jeffrey Ross, paired with Edyta Sliwinska, the only dancer to appear in all seven seasons.

• Retired NFL player Warren Sap, paired with Kym Johnson (fifth season).

The producers are changing things up a bit to start the season. All 13 pairs will perform in the season premiere on Monday, Sept. 22; one team will be eliminated on Tuesday, Sept. 23, and the remaining 12 will perform a second dance; a second team will be eliminated on Wednesday, Sept. 24.

The show drops into a more familiar Monday-Tuesday schedule the following week.

ADDING A FOURTH JUDGE to "American Idol" seems like a good idea — if only because it will, inevitably, mean less screen time for the three returning judges.

How Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul adjust could be fun to watch.

DioGuardi describes herself as "very opinionated and pretty feisty and not afraid of a good confrontation."

The four will be in Salt Lake City in September to judge the callbacks after open auditions in July. (Those auditions are closed to the public and the press.)

"Idol" remains far-and-away the most popular show on TV, but the fact that the ratings slipped a bit last season obviously prompted this move. Executive producer Simon Fuller said they're going to "turn up the heat on 'Idol' this year" and DioGuardi "will bring a new level of energy and excitement to the show."

As for executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz's statement that "We had originally intended for 'American Idol' to have four judges," that's somewhat less believable.

DioGuardi's songs have appeared on more than 100 million records and have been recorded by everyone from Kelly Clarkson to Gwen Stefani, Faith Hill to Santana, the Pussycat Dolls to the Jonas Brothers

She co-owns a publishing company, and one of the songwriters she represents wrote David Archuleta's new single, "Crush."

"I actually have a song now on the David Archuleta CD that's coming out," she said.

"American Idol" will return to the Fox schedule in January.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com