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Derek Hough likely to leave ‘DWTS,’ strut his stuff elsewhere

DEREK HOUGH KELLIE PICKLER

DEREK HOUGH, KELLIE PICKLER

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Updated: June 24, 2013 6:07AM



As Derek Hough basks in the glow of having won his fourth “Dancing With the Stars” mirrorball trophy, this time with Kellie Pickler, there’s a lot of backstage buzz at “DWTS” that the talented performer will again exit the show — likely this time for good.

“Derek has always wanted to eventually get back to the stage or other kinds of TV projects and even films,” said a veteran “Dancing” insider. “I know he’s had lots of offers. This seems like the right time for him to pursue all that.”

While Hough found major fame on “Dancing With the Stars,” he does have plenty of other performing experiences that predated that ABC hit show.

He appeared in productions of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and used his terrific dance skills to step into the role of Ren (made famous by Kevin Bacon) in a West End production of “Footloose” in London.

Even back in 2001, Hough was an uncredited actor — playing a Hogwarts schoolboy in “Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone,” the first film based on J.K. Rowling’s epic franchise.

But the 25-year-old dancer is happy to return to acting, and pleased to be able to explore his comedic side. He once recalled, “When I lived in London everything I did was pretty dramatic except for ‘Footloose.’ ‘Footloose’ was more fun but it also had quite a dramatic end to the musical. I really enjoyed that serious, darkness in the acting. But then when I went on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ I was very whimsical and silly and cheesy sometimes and dorky. So I enjoy all aspects. I enjoyed the fact that we were just having fun.”

† While Hough’s roles have been closely tied to his fleet-footed dancing — as in a one-time part as a dance instructor on the ABC sitcom “Better With You” and the as-yet-to-be-released film “Make Your Move” (about dance clubs in New York) — my source insists “Derek knows he can do more. … A lot of people in Hollywood think he has the acting chops to do things where he does not have to dance at all.”

Time will tell.

MORE ‘VIEW’ CHANGES? We’ve heard it before — and both “The View” honchos and Elisabeth Hasselbeck have denied it, but it does seem like rumors of the conservative co-host leaving the popular daily talk show may be true. Following up on showbiz411.com’s report of rumbling about Hasselbeck’s exit, my own ‘View’ sources are whispering the same thing.

Said to be the top contenders to replace both Hasselbeck and Joy Behar, who’s already on the way out, are Brooke Shields and Our Town’s own Jenny McCarthy — herself already busy with her Sun-Times Splash duties and her new VH1 chatfest.

SCOOPSVILLE: Oscar-winning actress Diane Keaton will be the guest speaker at the annual Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation’s big charity luncheon — slated for Oct. 3 at the Chicago Hilton. Co-chaired this year by Julie Barrish and Nancy Resnick, the Sage luncheon always is one of the fall season’s biggest daytime benefit events — attracting a Who’s Who of Chicagoans dedicated to fighting the scourge of breast cancer and related diseases.

SALUTING TROOPS: Katie Couric’s talk show Thursday (2 p.m., WLS-Channel 7) will be all about honoring America’s military. Among the featured segments on “Katie” will be a chat with Chicago’s own Melissa Stockwell, the first female soldier amputee of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” — an amazing young woman who has gone from wounded warrior to a Paralympics champion.

MORE LOCAL FILMING: George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel — those highly successful Columbia College Chicago filmmaking grads — are again returning here to make a movie. The as-yet-untitled Universal Pictures film will be directed by Tillman, produced by Teitel and scripted by Duane Adler, who launched the “Step Up” franchise and “Save the Last Dance.”

The film will be about a failed songwriter who returns to Chicago to lead a group of at-risk kids in their annual talent show. Deadline.com calls it “ ‘Pitch Perfect’ meets ‘8 Mile.’ ”

Over the years, Tillman and Teitel have brought several film projects here, ranging from “Soul Food” to their “Barbershop” flicks to “Roll Bounce” and “Nothing Like the Holidays.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: It’s been a big week for Marc Schulman’s Eli’s Cheesecake, which baked a giant cheesecake to welcome the “Today” crew to Chicago and helped state Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka serve more than 1,400 slices in Springfield for her annual Eli’s Cheesecake Day at the State Capitol.

LOVE SONG: Many people fall in love with music, but Sarah Ponder and Hoss Brock fell in love because of it. The couple met as members of the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus and now will be getting married Saturday at the Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Grandmother’s Garden — after first taking wedding photos on stage at the Pritzker Pavilion, where they have spent many summers performing together. They’ll continue that tradition — as husband and wife — on June 14, shortly after the beginning of the festival’s 2013 season.

SEEN ON THE SCENE: Among the first celebs to check out The Dec — the cool new 12th-floor outside terrace at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, were R. Kelly and (separately) David Schwimmer. … NBA fans spied Shawn Marion of the Dallas Mavericks dining at Prasino in Wicker Park. … Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery slipped into the Pump Room for a bit of dinner, and music mogul Jermaine Dupri made a beeline for his favorite “Booth One” seat. … Also making the Pump Room scene was Troy Garity, who became a regular while here filming “Boss” with Kelsey Grammer. … ’85 Bears champ Otis Wilson hung out at Mercadito for the monthly cooking demo series, enjoying chef Patricio Sandoval’s “Ode to the Avocado” four-course menu, inspired by one of Mexico’s favorite ingredients.



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