Derek & Julianne Hough Say 'Holidays With the Houghs' Is Just the Beginning

Michael Maloney
Q&A Trae Patton/NBC

Julianne Hough and Derek Hough joined the cast of Dancing With the Stars in Seasons 4 and 5, respectively. After making their mark on ABC's dance competition series — Julianne won two Mirror Ball trophies and Derek won six! — they each left to embark on new creative opportunities.

The triple threats have since performed on Broadway, in live television musicals (Derek played Corny Collins in Hairspray Live! and Julianne starred as Sandy in Grease Live!), and sat at the judges tables on NBC talent competition shows World of Dance (Derek) and America’s Got Talent (Julianne).

The Emmy-winning siblings were recently honored at the Paley Media Center in Beverly Hills at "An Evening with Derek Hough and Julianne Hough," where they talked about their show biz origins, career highlights, and NBC's December 16 special, Holidays With the Houghs.

TV Insider was on the red carpet prior to the show and chatted with the pair about their holiday special, plans for the future, and if they’d entertain a return to Dancing With the Stars. Read on for the scoop!

Brian To/The Paley Center for Media

I’ve been saying since Dancing With the Stars Season 5 you two should have your own variety show a la Donny & Marie. What took so long!

Derek Hough: I don’t know. It was a timing thing. Eventually, the stars aligned. We’re on a network that championed the idea. It was all a perfect storm.

Were you familiar with the old Donny & Marie variety show?

Julianne Hough: Yes, definitely. We’re from Utah, as they are. Growing up, we were known as the "blond Osmonds."

Derek: I’m going to be straight up — I haven’t seen an episode, but I’m fully aware of it.

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Julianne: I am familiar with it by doing research. I think we were too young to have seen it.

They’d play up their sibling dynamic. It wasn’t uncommon for Donny to do or say something silly, then, Marie would rib him, and he’d say "Cute, Marie." 

Derek: Our careers have been parallel [with theirs] by accident so, it’s fun to play on that. It can seem like [Julianne and I have] a rivalry but in reality…

Julianne: We’re just so excited for each other.

Derek: We play into it, for sure. It’s a lot of fun.

Trae Patton/NBC

Derek, you shot Holidays With the Houghs before your emergency appendectomy. How are you feeling now?

Derek: I feel OK. I feel good.

Post-surgery, you were jumping around on stage on the NBC Christmas in Rockefeller Center special.

Derek: I wasn’t supposed to be doing that.

Julianne: I saw his rehearsal and thought, "Wait, you’re not supposed to be dancing!"

Derek: I might have popped open a few stitches, but I’m good!

Julianne: He did not. He’s joking!

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Can you preview Holiday With the Houghs?

Derek: Yes. When we looked at the whole show as a whole or if we’re doing a tour, it’s about the dynamics and different colors in each performance. I think we capture those. Julianne roller skates. I jokingly said to her, "Jules, you should try this move," which was super-dangerous and looks crazy, never thinking she’d actually do it. So, of course, I came into rehearsal the next day and she’s doing it!

Julianne: It’s pretty crazy. All the blood rushed up to my head. I burst a lot of capillaries in my forehead, let’s put it that way. I was feeling like my brain felt like scrambled eggs.

Derek: She came up to me and said, "Derek, I don’t feel right. Don’t tell anybody. I’ll get in trouble."

Julianne: No. I was like, "Don’t tell anybody because they won’t let me to it," and I wanted to do it.

Trae Patton/NBC

Could you see this turning into a weekly variety show? They were a staple of TV in the 1970s – The Carol Burnett Show, Sonny and Cher, The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.

Derek: Yeah! Absolutely, given the right circumstances. That’s what’s kind of great about what we created. It doesn’t necessarily have to be specific to the holidays. We could create it throughout the year or every week.

Julianne: The time right now is an exciting one because we haven’t seen [a weekly variety show] for a long time. So, who knows — maybe a lot of things will spawn out of this?

What guest stars do you have on Holiday With the Houghs?

Derek: We have Ciara and Ne-Yo.

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Anyone with a last name? 

Derek: [Laughs] Yeah, I know, right?

Julianne: We have Alexander Jean – but that’s still two first names!

Derek: They do a beautiful, beautiful rendition of "O Holy Night," which honestly brought me to tears and was super special. We have some amazing choreography from Tessandra Chavez.

Trae Patton/NBC

What’s coming up next year on World of Dance?

Derek: I was talking to the producers about some format changes when I was in New York. We were talking about different format changes. I’m really excited about the next season.

Do you still want to have the decision as to who gets the top prize be in the hands of the judges or would you like the audience to be involved?

Derek: Oh, boy, I hope they do that [and involve the audience]. It’s a lot of pressure. A million dollars!

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You’re both pretty busy. But is there any chance we could see either or both of you returning to DWTS for either a guest stint at the judges’ table or as pro dancer?

Derek: Honestly, my answer is, "Never say never." At the moment, I don’t see that right now, but things change. You never know.

Julianne: Same answer. You never know. There are a lot of exciting things that are happening for me next year. I’m going on tour with Oprah next year [to talk about] KINRGY, a new company that I am launching in 2020. It’s about connecting to your body through movement, dance, and breath-work and meditation. I’m focusing on that and my production company, Canary House, and also getting back to my music. If there’s a slot in there, I’d love to come [to DWTS] and say, "Hi." It’s family there.

Holidays With the Houghs, Monday, December 16, 10/9c, NBC