“The Masked Singer,” a singing competition where singers, actors and athletes are shrouded from head to toe in an elaborate costume, complete with a full face mask to conceal his or her identity, will premiere at 9 p.m. Wednesday evening on Fox.
The singers have a combined 65 Grammy nominations, 16 Emmy nominations, four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and four Super Bowl titles, according to Fox.
“These are people that you will recognize,” Rob Wade, Fox Broadcasting’s president, alternative entertainment and specials, said at Fox’s portion of the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in August.
“It’s very difficult to find someone that everybody knows,” Wade said. “There will be some your kids will know or your parents will know.”
One singer will be eliminated by the audience and judges every week, based on their performance, then reveal his or her identity.
Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke will be the regular panelists, while Joel McHale, Kenan Thompson and J.B. Smoove will be guest panelists. Nick Cannon will be the host.
“This is truly one of the most unique, genre-defining formats I’ve ever seen,” Wade said. “It’s a massive international hit and its boldness and originality make it the perfect fit for Fox.”
The first version of the series debuted in South Korea in 2015. Versions later aired in China, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The singers chose their costumes, executive producer Izzie Pick Ibarra said.
“We had an amazing costume designer, Marina Toybina, (who) … would sit down with the singers when they first signed on to do the show and offer them up a variety of different insects, mammals, flowers … all the different costume designs that we have,” Pick Ibarra said.
“They would choose what resonated with them most … something that had a personal connection to them in some way, shape, or form so that when they transformed into wearing the costume on the show, that it felt much more like an extension of them rather than something sort of completely random.”
The costume “helped in the guessing game,” Cannon said.
“Why (would) that person would choose that costume and how does that correlate with their current image,” Cannon said.
“Are they trying to strip away from it? Are they trying to embrace it? And so when the panel was guessing, they were always wondering why one would want to be a peacock.”
Measures to protect the contestants identities included having anyone joining them on the drive onto the studio lot wear masks, requiring them to remain in costume when they went the bathroom and keeping the contestants away from each other, according to Jeong, Cannon and Thicke.
Many of the Grammy winners “sang out of their genre,” executive producer Craig Plestis said.
“If you’re thinking about listening to them for that genre reason, that’s not the way to figure it out,” Plestis said.
The panelists responsibilities were ” to encourage, to support, and then to hopefully figure out on our own who it is,” Thicke said.
Jeong said a major reason he agreed to be a panelist is that the South Korean version “is my mother’s favorite show.”
“When Fox invited me to be a part of this show … my mom was like, `You have to do this show,”’ Jeong said. “She showed me all these YouTube clips. It’s like billions of views on these YouTube clips. And I was like, `I’m in.’ ”
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: