Alfonso Ribeiro on Co-Hosting 'DWTS' With Julianne Hough: 'Our Chemistry Is Going to Be Fantastic' (Exclusive)

Ribeiro hosts the 43rd annual Fourth of July celebration for PBS, 'A Capitol Fourth,' live from Washington, D.C.

Alfonso Ribeiro is excited for the new season of Dancing With the Stars and its return to ABC!

"It's fantastic. I think some people look at last season as a failure and I look at it completely opposite, right? We were actually so much of a success on Disney+ that ABC was like, 'No, no, no, no, no, no, we want that back. We didn't realize how good this was to us,'" Ribeiro, who will host PBS' 43rd annual Fourth of July live programming event this year, A Capitol Fourth, exclusively told ET's Denny Directo. "It's really a win-win for everyone."

Ribeiro acknowledged the changes ahead of DWTS' 32nd season following co-host Tyra Banks' departure from the franchise in March after three seasons. Soon after Banks' exit was made public, Julianne Hough was announced as Ribeiro's new co-host for the upcoming cycle with Ribeiro promoted to emcee.

"Of course, we're all sad to see Tyra go. She made a decision to make that her last season, but the beauty of now moving down to the floor," Ribeiro said, revealing he and Hough had lunch together in New York City in May to discuss all things DWTS and to catch up. 

"Very excited to have her joining me. Our chemistry, I think, is going to be fantastic. We've known each other for so long. She was a judge on my season," the 51-year-old said, referring to the year he won -- the franchise's 19th season -- where Hough served as a judge. Hough also competed as a DWTS professional during its early seasons and has filled various roles over the years, including as guest judge.

"We've known each other through the years and our energy just feels so right," Ribeiro said of working with Hough. "We sat and had lunch and two-and-a-half hours later we're going, 'I guess we should go home and do stuff.' And I think that that kind of chemistry and friendship is going to come through on the show to the audience."

Ribeiro agreed that their history competing on DWTS adds a level of understanding for what it takes to take home the mirrorball trophy.

"We know exactly [what it takes]," he said, even hinting that he and Hough may be putting on their dancing shoes again. "Funny enough, Julianne and I might end up dancing a little bit. That might happen." He teased that DWTS pro Emma Slater "has been taking me into the dance studio twice a week" to relearn some dance moves. 

Though there is no confirmed premiere date yet, DWTS is slated to kick off the new season this fall, back in its Monday night home. And amid speculation of the famous faces who could be competing, Ribeiro admitted he has no idea who will be vying for the mirrorball trophy. But, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air star has a very short wish list of who he'd like to see compete.

"James Van Der Beek and I have become really good friends," Ribeiro said of the season 23 runner-up. "He was talking to Katie Holmes and she said, 'No way, I'm not doing it.' But I am looking into the camera saying, 'Katie Holmes, we would love to have you. I think you'd love this.' I think she'd be fantastic."

"And the the biggest part of all of it is that I don't actually think about it from the perspective of the audience. I think about it from the perspective of the celebrity," he noted. "One of the things that this show does so well is really make you dive deep into who you are, make you shed all of those things, all those walls that we all put up and allow you to connect deeply with your own heart. If you allow it to do that and when it does, it becomes the most magical experience. We got to experience that with Selma Blair last year. What she experienced, it literally healed her body, it healed her soul. We're such a tight family that once you become part of the family, it's arms wrapped around you at all times."

Ribeiro also spoke about honoring the late Len Goodman, who died April 24 at age 78, several months after retiring as head judge from DWTS

"I still haven't fully wrapped my head around the idea," he acknowledged. "It's incredibly sad to see him gone, not just gone but gone from the show and it's going to be tough. He had an incredible role on the show with the audience and his power and presence made the judging panel really solid."

Derek Hough, who joined the judging panel in season 29, officially moves up to head judge and Ribeiro believes the former DWTS pro is "going to be really great at it," but may "have to go through some growing pains."

While Ribeiro isn't sure how DWTS will be paying tribute to Goodman in the new season quite yet, he said "several of our pros plan on still honoring [him]" through their routines: "There will be moments where everybody's going to do it for Len either way."

But before he gears up to take the mic on DWTS, the America's Funniest Home Videos host will be leading A Capitol Fourth, PBS' annual July 4th celebration that broadcasts live from Washington, D.C. This year's lineup includes performances from Boyz II Men, Belinda Carlisle, Chicago, Babyface and Maddie & Tae, and many more.

"This is a time when we need all people to come together and just support one another and support this country as a whole and the idea for 43 years we've been celebrating in the nation's capital with the most iconic firework show that you can find -- epic fireworks show with incredible artists," Ribeiro previewed. "It's going to be so much fun. This is my first year hosting and this is one of the biggest shows on PBS every year. The idea of coming out there and being able to be part of America on its birthday right in the nation's capital and to be able to enjoy the actual performances and show America how much we care about them. We care about the nurses, we care about our military, we care so much about all the people that make this country work and we want to celebrate them and celebrate America on its birthday."

The 43rd annual A Capitol Fourth airs live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, July 4 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS and streams live on Check your local listings.