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Discussion Starter #201
I highly support the fan voting, that tiny audience rarely gets it right.


‘The Masked Singer’: Fox’s Mystery Talent Format Resumes Production, Introduces Fan Voting For The First Time
By Peter White

EXCLUSIVE: The masks are on, both for celebrity contestants and the crew as The Masked Singer has returned to production.

Deadline understands that Fox’s mystery talent format has resumed production on its fourth season ahead of its fall premiere, which is set for September.

The show went back in production today at Red Studios in Hollywood with rigorous health and safety protocols in place. As you can imagine, all of the same protocols are in place that are on other non-scripted shows that have started back again: taking regular temperatures, social distancing and PPE equipment.

Fox is working closely with local and state officials, including the Health Department, as well as the unions on protocols to make sure that the production environment is as safe as possible.

There is, however, a twist this season. For the first time, Deadline understands that fans will have the chance to influence the outcome of the show. Viewers at home will have a chance to vote on their favorite performances as part of a virtual audience. The votes, as to which costumed singer they would like to see again, will help determine who goes through.

Fox handed The Masked Singer an 8 p.m. slot for its fall schedule in May, running before the return of MasterChef Junior. The show, which features celebrities singing in crazy costumes as judges guess their identity, was renewed ahead of the finale of Season 3.

The reality series is hosted by Nick Cannon and judges include Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke.

The third season featured the likes of Sarah Palin as a bear, Rob Gronkowski as a white tiger and Lil Wayne as a robot. Exec producer Craig Plestis told Deadline in May that he wanted to ratchet up the weirdness of the show.

“I want to increase the bonkers level and keep the production values up,” he said. “There are things that you’re going to see in [Season 4] that you haven’t seen anywhere else, not only here but anywhere in the globe,” he said.

This comes after Fox resumed production on its other Korean format – mystery singing gameshow I Can See Your Voice earlier this month.

That show, which is hosted by and exec produced by The Masked Singer panelist Ken Jeong, was Fox’s first major non-scripted series to resume after filming was hit by the COVID-19 production shutdown in March. It was thought that I Can See Your Voice was a bellwether for Fox’s other non-scripted productions.

 

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Discussion Starter #202
The Masked Singer producer on 'hidden secret' to show's success, and what to expect in season 4

Could Brad Pitt, Michelle or Barack Obama, or Oprah Winfrey be under a mask this season?

By Lauren Huff

Each one of The Masked Singer's first three seasons has been a ratings hit for Fox, but it's only just now seeing success of a different kind.

For the first time since the debut of the singing competition show, The Masked Singer is up for a top prize at next month's Emmys: Outstanding Competition Program. The series, which puts celebrities in elaborate disguises and makes armchair detectives out of its viewers as they seek to uncover each singer's identity, had only been nominated previously for its intricate and outrageous costumes.

Here, executive producer Craig Plestis reveals what he believes is the key ingredient to the show's continued success, what the most challenging aspects of producing the quirky competition program are, and more. Plus, he teases what fans can expect from the show's fourth season, debuting this fall on Fox.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This is the first big Emmy nomination for the show. Why was this the year?

CRAIG PLESTIS:
I think because we've been snowballing. The first year, it's like, are we just a one-hit wonder? Is it just a flash in the pan? We came back again, we're number one again in season 2, and then season 3 being launched behind the Super Bowl, I think it just got even more awareness with that platform that was afforded to us. We were very lucky as a show to get that spot. So I think it was just the right timing, right place, and just an incredible season this year that we just had, with some incredible performances and costumes. So we're just lucky and blessed that we were actually nominated. We're all thrilled beyond belief.

What are some of the unique challenges of making this show, for you as a producer?

First and foremost, it's keeping it all a secret. This is not just who did a better job performing, like a lot of other talent shows. This is who's behind the mask. And so our jobs as producers is to keep that secret alive until that mask comes off. So it's a lot of extra energy that we have to do as a production, with security, with our celebrities, and not letting hardly anyone know who that person is. There's only a handful of people on our team, I swear, who know who our celebrities are. Our director doesn't know, our panel does not know when they're guessing. There's just a few producers on our team, as well as only a few people over at Fox. So security is foremost for us, keeping that guessing game alive. And then after that it's just making an incredible show, putting the spectacle in place here. And also just creating these costumes. I mean, our show lives and dies by these creations and just making them all lovable so America can root for them without even knowing who that celebrity is behind them.

We just have such an incredible team, and Marina [Toybina] is just fantastic coming up with [the costumes]. But also our celebrities help bring it to life. They help customize it here and there, and when they put it on they become that character, whatever it might be, from the Turtle to the Robot to the Bear. The saddest experience of our life is when they get unmasked and they have to leave their costume behind. We've had celebrities almost crying walking out of the studio because they have to say goodbye to their characters. We have so much footage of them just saying goodbye to their masks. It's just heartbreaking. It's the secret unknown story of The Masked Singer.

Season 3 saw double-digit ratings gains in episodes that aired during the coronavirus pandemic. Did that surprise you at all?

It didn't surprise me 100 percent, only because the way we've always looked at this show is: We're an island. When people are so tired of the news cycle, what's going on politically or just the pandemic, we're just an escape from reality. It's an hour for America to sit back and play a big guessing game, and for the families to come together. I really believe that's the hidden secret in our show. I'm online every time our show airs, just seeing what people are saying about it so I can learn how to do it better, and my team is as well, and the majority of the responses are "Thank you, Fox and the producers, for putting on a show that we can watch as a family." I think that's lost on a lot of other shows. They're very niche shows. And we really try to be broad for our broadcaster, where everybody from 8 to 80 can watch it and partake in it. I think it's a lost art, but when you do it right and do it well, [the viewers] will show up. And that's the secret recipe for The Masked Singer.

If you could have anyone on the show, who would it be?

I have such a long list, it's incredible. My top four would be: I love Michelle Obama. I love Barack Obama. I'd love to get Oprah [Winfrey]. I'd love to get Brad Pitt. Now, those are the four I mentioned, but it doesn't mean they're not going to show up. One of them might show up sometime on season 4, but I can't tell you.
In the first season, we had to go knocking on doors of celebrities saying, "Please be on our show. Trust us. It's going to work." But now because there's so many celebrities who have families and their kids watch the show, they're calling us and saying, "I want to do it as a surprise for my kids." And that's a great blessing we have as producers for a show, that people are calling us now, and great people are calling us. So we have just a wealth of celebrities that want to do the show, and hopefully we'll be around long enough to get through all of them.

Obviously season 4 is going to look different on account of the pandemic. How will this season differ from the prior seasons?

We have some really incredible ideas that have not been done before on any other show. I think there's a lot that you'll see that we have done with the show, from the way we're doing our staging this year, with some new incredible ideas, as well as the way we're doing our clue packages — we pushed the bar of creativity of storytelling to a new level that you haven't seen yet on any Masked Singer [including international versions of the show] at all. I don't like to say anything positive about the pandemic, but what it did to us as producers is it made us be more creative and more inventive in how we made the show. This is the one show where we can go more bizarre, and it's okay. You can break the boundaries. And so I think that's what you're going to see on this season. In the past when we said this was a bonkers show — it's even more bonkers now.

 

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Discussion Starter #203
‘The Masked Singer’ Takes Over Iconic Los Angeles Locations for Emmy Campaign

By Michael Schneider

Miss Monster is popping up at iconic spots all over Los Angeles in support of Fox’s “The Masked Singer,” while also promoting a pandemic-appropriate message: Wear a mask.

Staring Aug. 20, the “Masked Singer” activation features the show’s “Miss Monster” character at the Santa Monica Pier and taking over the famous Randy’s Donuts sign. The character also makes an appearance in Hollywood next to the large dinosaur character (currently masked for COVID) on top of at the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.

“Miss Monster” was a character on Season 3 of “The Masked Singer,” later revealed to be worn by music icon Chaka Khan. The costume is the counterpart to Season 1’s “Monster,” the one-eyed character who turned out to be that season’s winner, T-Pain.

Costume designer Marina Toybina oversees “The Masked Singer” creations, and she, along with costume supervisor Grainne O’Sullivan, assistant costume designers Gabrielle Letamendi and Candice Rainwater, have all been nominated in the outstanding costumes for a variety, nonfiction or reality program category. (The show also earned a nom in that category last year).

Meanwhile, the big news this year for the show is that “The Masked Singer” scored a nomination this year in the outstanding competition program category.

“Masked Singer” became a quick hit, and a cornerstone of Fox’s schedule — so much so that the series was given the plum slot behind the Super Bowl earlier this year. The show, which went back into production this week for Season 4, ranks as this season’s No. 1 entertainment series.

Here are more photos from “The Masked Singer” campaign:





 

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Discussion Starter #204
‘The Masked Singer’ Stars and Producer Share Show Secrets, Reveal Plans for Season 4

By Eli Countryman

Face coverings aren’t just worn during a pandemic; they’ve also been a staple of “The Masked Singer” since early 2019.

The cast and crew began shooting for season 4 on Aug. 20 with safety guidelines in place as the coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S. The show features celebrity contestants, hidden inside elaborate full-body costumes, who perform for a panel of judges who attempt to guess the star beneath the mask.

With the new season in development, the show’s executive producer Craig Plestis and celebrity panel joined the Variety Streaming Room, moderated by Michael Schneider, to discuss the feel-good nature of the competition, judges’ strategies for guessing and the start of season 4 amidst a pandemic. The judges includes Nicole Scherzinger, Jenny McCarthy Walberg, Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong.

“This show is always about being positive, not being negative, not tearing down the celebrities,” Plestis said. “It’s saying something nice. It’s easy to say something negative if you want to. And I think the celebrities see that: they’re not being critiqued. It’s a guessing game in the end.”

All four judges have been on since the opening season, but even with experience, they often find it difficult to come up with a name for who could be in each costume. Aside from analyzing the voice of each performer, the panel is shown video clips with clues about the person’s personal life, which helps each panelist to varying degrees, according to Thicke.

“As the episodes develop, Jenny continues to help connect dots,” Thicke said. “I don’t know most personal things about these people. I know some of their career accomplishments, I might know their voice, the sound of their voice or their height.”

For McCarthy, though, it’s much easier. She hosts “The Jenny McCarthy Show” on SiriusXM and has been part of shows like “The View.”

“I’m interviewing a lot of these people who are on the show. I’m either gossiping about them or I’m interviewing them,” she said. “So my broadband has more than I want to know about celebrities, to be honest, but it at least comes in handy. Also, I’m addicted to clue things, like mysteries. Before the season starts, except for this season, I used to go to those escape rooms and practice with clues. I want to get my brain fired up.”

There have also been a couple surprises on the show, from Lil Wayne becoming the first eliminated member of the season 3 competitors to the end of Dionne Warwick’s run as the Mouse.

But celebrity status means nothing from behind a large costume. Thick said that the trick to going far on the show is creating an engaging performance or making the audience laugh and feel connected to the character – even if it’s hard to maneuver as an oversized Robot.

“With all understanding, people are voting for the characters, not the person underneath the character,” he said. “You’re voting for Monster. You’re voting for Tiger. You’re voting for Butterfly. So the whole package and the dance moves, the sense of humor that the character may have – everything is part of the package.”

Season 4 is set to air this fall, and Plestis said the adaptations crew made to maintain safety measures have actually helped, rather than hindered the show’s development. There will be a virtual audience who has power to influence the outcomes of each episode, as well as new characters and innovative versions of the recorded clue concepts.

New costumes will follow underwater and food-based concepts, with the latter following on the heels of the Banana character’s popularity amongst fans. There are also two more surprise designs that Plestis said he cannot reveal details for but that he believes are sure to be a worldwide hit.

“Obviously it’s difficult shooting during the pandemic, but it’s made us be more creative as producers than we have ever been,” Plestis said. “You’re going to see some incredible innovations this season, because we’re forced to be more creative and you’re going to see different ways we do the stage productions. The clue packages are completely different this season. The costumes: there are costumes that season that we’ve never done before in the history of ‘Masked Singer,’ either in America or around the world, that people will be talking about it.”


 

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Discussion Starter #205
The Masked Singer Sets Season 4 Premiere Date, Reveals Costumes
By Kimberly Roots

Prepare for the feathers, fur and foam rubber to fly on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

The Masked Singer will return on that date at 8/7c and will be followed by the series premiere of another reality singing competition, I Can See Your Voice, Fox announced Wednesday.

In addition, the network released a new teaser that reveals the names of 14 of the new season’s costumes. They are: Gremlin, Snow Owl, Crocodile, Giraffe, Broccoli, Popcorn, Sea Horse, Jellyfish, Mushroom, Whatchamacalit, Squiggly Monster, Dragon, Baby Alien and Sun. Around the 20-second mark, we even get some quick glimpses of a few of the bizarre new faces. (Giraffe is definitely one of ’em, but the other couple are anyone’s guess.)

It’s likely we’ll all get a better look at some of the new getups in The Masked Singer‘s pre-season sneak peek special, slated to air on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 8 pm.

Fox also released a first look video for I Can See Your Voice, hosted and executive-produced by Masked Singer judge Ken Jeong. The series asks contestants to tell the difference between good and bad singers, without having heard them sing a note.

The contestants will be aided by a panel including Jeong, Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Adrienne Bailon-Houghton (The Real) and “a rotating panel of celebrity detectives, comprised of comedians and pop culture experts, and a musical superstar,” per the official release. At the end of each episode, the singer picked by the contestant will duet with the musical superstar, revealing whether or not they can, in fact, sing.





Teaser: All New Characters With All New Masks | Season 4 | THE MASKED SINGER

 

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Discussion Starter #206
How 'The Masked Singer' Costume Designer Creates Award-Winning Costumes in Just 3 Months


 

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Discussion Starter #207
The Masked Singer Season 4: See the Show's First Duet (!) Costume
By Kimberly Roots


This really gives new meaning to The Masked Singer‘s theme song lyric, “Whooooo are you?”

Season 4 of Fox’s wacky reality musical competition will have two singers competing as a duet, TVLine has learned. The Snow Owls will compete (and be eliminated) as one.

The feathered pair first will appear in the season premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c.

In August, the network revealed the names of 14 of the new season’s costumes. Snow Owl was among them, but appeared to be a singular performer. The other upcoming contestants are Gremlin, Crocodile, Broccoli, Giraffe, Sea Horse, Popcorn, Jellyfish, Whatchamacalit, Squiggly Monster, Mushroom, Dragon, Sun and Baby Alien.

It’s likely we’ll all get a better look at some of the new getups in The Masked Singer‘s pre-season sneak peek special, slated to air on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 8 pm.

Press PLAY on the video above to see the Snow Owls make their debut, then start thinking really hard about what two-person song selections they might perform. And what might the pairing mean for the owls’ real-life relationship: If they’re comfortable singing so close to each other in these COVID-19 times, does that imply that they’re family members living in the same home? Romantic partners? Maybe even a set of well-known twins?

 

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So that's Seth Rogen, obviously. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #210
Preview: All New Masked Celebrities | Tonight at 8/7c



Preview: These Heroes Wear Masks | Tonight at 8/7c

 

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Discussion Starter #211
‘The Masked Singer’ Producers Preview Season 4, Discuss Nick Cannon, COVID and ‘Baby Alien’

By Michael Schneider

The Masked Singer” returns Wednesday with new costumes, a virtual studio audience, a socially distanced panel — and a host still weathering controversy.

The Fox celebrity singing competition has been a ratings smash for three seasons, attracting an audience looking for family-friendly, escapist TV. That was especially true this past spring, when ratings soared as viewers watched “Masked Singer” as a means to cope with lockdown orders and the reality of the coronavirus pandemic.

That bubble threatened to burst this summer, however, as “Masked Singer” host Nick Cannon made anti-Semitic remarks on his podcast, and at first appeared unapologetic. ViacomCBS cut ties with the star, but Cannon managed to save the “Masked Singer” gig after he eventually apologized and promised to go on a self-reflection tour.

“This is not something that anyone has taken lightly,” said Fox alternative president Rob Wade. “We obviously condemn any form of hate directed toward any community and we’re committed to combating bigotry. And the conversations with Nick were so swift and it was so clear of his remorse. And it felt like this was something that we needed to try and resolve and not create a wedge in between us and him. Because I think it’s a lot easier to hold someone accountable for their actions if we’re still working with them rather than not working with him.”

Insiders said the subject wasn’t discussed on the “The Masked Singer” set. Executive producer Craig Plestis doesn’t think it’s an issue for the show. “He gave his statements and he’s been working on it behind the scenes,” Plestis said. “We’re fully supportive of Nick.”

Even without the Cannon headache, Fox and “The Masked Singer” producers faced a challenge in mounting the show in the COVID-19 pandemic age. But before shooting “Masked,” Plestis and the network managed a stealth shoot of the new reality competition series “I Can See Your Voice,” hosted by “Masked Singer” panelist Ken Jeong. That shoot went off without incident, and Fox, Plestis, Jeong and the rest of the team that work on both shows slid immediately into Season 4 of “The Masked Singer.”

Plestis said the goal was to make the show look and feel as much like any other season as possible. “I think we’re all exhausted being on Zooms every day and so is the average viewer,” he said. “The last thing they want to have is watch a TV show that looks like work. Our mission was to try to make it as familiar as possible and to go back to old school. How do we do that? Through a lot of innovation, through some virtual reality stuff that we’ve been playing with, to make the sets even bigger.”

“It’s not going to feel like a COVID show,” he added. “And I think we really achieved that. It feels like a broadcast network TV show, and not a Zoom call.”

Wade called the challenge to mount the show in COVID-19 times “as difficult as it gets. It’s hard. It’s hard for many, many, many reasons. But they have done a fantastic job. From the day we started lockdown, it’s been a process from how do we get back to filming in a safe way with high production values. It was incredibly challenging, creating music tracks and vocal coaching people remotely — incredibly difficult. And then creating the systems to ensure people are separated and safe when they’re on set, not allowing different areas of the crew to populate areas.”

Here are a few things to look out for as “The Masked Singer” returns for Season 4:

The first celebrity duo contestant: “Snow Owls.”
“We’ve been talking about getting into duets for the past couple seasons,” Plestis said. “It’s not a fresh idea that just happened a couple months ago, but we only wanted to do it [if] we had the right two people in that outfit. There were a lot of different celebrities that came across in our journey that just didn’t feel right, until we got these two. And it turned out to be perfect. I’m glad we waited for this experience, because they really are the embodiment of our Snow Owls.”

The first puppet costume: “Baby Alien.”
“Baby Alien lives inside of a spaceship, and the celebrity has to be in this gigantic apparatus to maneuver Baby Alien,” Plestis said. ” Baby Alien is maybe about the size of maybe like Baby Yoda, a small little puppet or Kermit the Frog. Not only does this person have to sing in this puppet, but they have to operate a puppet. The training that this celebrity had to do to operate this was monumental. It will become one of the fan favorites.”

The “Masked Singer” panel has been spread out for safety.
The panel sits at a supersized desk, where they are separated six feet apart. “The way that we shot it, they really feel close together,” Plestis said. “Safety is still number one for us. We did not want to compromise at all. There’s some virtual reality tricks with the sets that we’ve done.”

The audience participated virtually, selected from a database of “The Masked Singer” superfans.
“We’ve been showing the performances to our superfans and letting them vote all across America,” Plestis said. “I watch them when they actually do the voting, and they get to actually communicate with one another like a little private chat room. We’ve been really lucky that the fans are really loyal and showing up and they don’t want to spoil it for anyone.”


The producers relied on panelist Ken Jeong, who’s also a doctor, to put talent at ease that this was a safe set.
[See Variety‘s separate story on Jeong here: With ‘The Masked Singer’ and ‘I Can See Your Voice,’ Ken Jeong May Now Be Reality TV’s Biggest Star.] “We took great pride in the COVID proofing, but for the celebrities,” Plestis said. “We were kind of lucky, a lot of people were in between jobs too. So when they found out that we actually took extra precautions for their safety as well as our crew safety, we had a lot of people that we thought we would never get on our show. Knock on wood, we were really lucky this season to get some incredible talent.”

Panelist Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg said she was “blown away with the precautions that they took. Before I even left Chicago, I was tested twice, and got on a plane, came here, landed, tested. And then tested pretty much every two to three days. I’ve lost track with how many cotton swabs come in front of me. And everyone around me, the same amount of testing. Everybody on set is socially distanced, their masks are on. I’m really quite fascinated with how they were able to pull it off in the safest way.”

Clue packages have been animated this year, and drones will carry clues as well.
“The control room itself is now in different rooms. And yet they’re still managing to function and create a very high quality show,” Wade said. “I think with the creative use of AR technology and the use of things like animation in our packages, drones to carry clues on rather than people, the producers have been incredibly inventive to find ways to keep the entertainment value at its very highest. Yet keep people safe.”

“The Masked Singer” returns on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on Fox, followed by the new series “I Can See Your Voice,” hosted by Jeong.

 

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Discussion Starter #212
Any guesses after the premier? I never listened to Busta so I would not have been able to guess him.
 

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Discussion Starter #214
Fans are trying to get Nicole kicked off the judges panel because she guessed Mary J Blige as the popcorn. Fans of Mary J are saying no way would she do this show that she is to good for a show like this.
 

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Fans are trying to get Nicole kicked off the judges panel because she guessed Mary J Blige as the popcorn. Fans of Mary J are saying no way would she do this show that she is to good for a show like this.
Too good for a show that has previously featured Chaka Khan, Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, and Patti LaBelle? Riiiiight...
 

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Discussion Starter #216
'DON'T SPEAK HER NAME!'

The Masked Singer fans call for Nicole Scherzinger to be ‘kicked off show’ after she guessed Mary J. Blige is Popcorn

FANS of The Masked Singer called for judge Nicole Scherzinger to be "kicked off show" after she guessed that superstar Mary J. Blige performed as Popcorn.

The Fox show returned on Wednesday for a new season, though viewers are convinced that Mary is not among the masked contestants.

Following Popcorn's performance of Pink's What About Us?, Nicole guessed that Mary was the singer behind the mask.

The 42-year-old reiterated her guess on Twitter and wrote: "I really think that #PopcornMask could be @maryjblige!! Who do y'all think it is?"

In response to Nicole's guess, one fan tweeted: "Nicole Scherzinger needs to be kicked off the show. Mary J. Blige, really?! #TheMaskedSinger."

Another person wrote: "I don’t want Nicole Scherzinger to ever speak Mary J. Blige’s name again."


A handful of Mary's fans were offended that Nicole thought she would compete on the show, with one person writing: " Not Nicole guessing Mary j Blige."

One fan tweeted: " Nicole said Mary J. Blige and I’m like that’s not her and I love me some Mary," while someone else responded: "I was disappointed when she said that because popcorn has a seasoned voice. Mary J still has it."

 

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Sounds like it was actually only one idiot on Twitter who called for her to be kicked off the show.
 

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Discussion Starter #218
Was really odd knowing the audience wasn't there to see them added in, their reactions, Nick out there dancing with them, etc. If I didn't know about it being fake, I would never have known. Wife kept complaining why they were allowed to do that and not wear masks, etc. until I explained it to her.

Initial thoughts - a couple really strong singers again. Glad this show is back, we really enjoy it.
 

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Discussion Starter #219
TV Ratings: 'Masked Singer' Opens With Demo Low

Fox leads Wednesday's primetime and gets decent numbers from 'I Can See Your Voice.'
The Masked Singer carried Fox to a demographic victory in primetime on Wednesday, but the show's fourth season began by tying its lowest 18-49 rating to date. TV usage was once again down considerably from the same night a year ago.

On the plus side for Fox, however, I Can See Your Voice got off to a decent start. The finale of America's Got Talent drew the show's best numbers in six weeks for NBC — though it too was off by a wide margin vs. last year's close. Fox News got a bump from coverage of a Trump campaign rally, and ESPN led primetime in adults 18-49 with an NBA playoff game.

The Masked Singer delivered a 1.6 rating in the 18-49 demo, tying its lowest same-day mark ever, in Wednesday's final numbers, along with 5.92 million total viewers. That's off by 36 percent in adults 18-49 and 26 percent in viewers from its September 2019 premiere (2.5 and 8.02 million). I Can See Your Voice premiered with a 1.2 in adults 18-49 and 4.57 million viewers, tying for second in the demo on the broadcast networks with CBS' Big Brother and topping the latter's viewer total (4.17 million).

The finale of America's Got Talent posted a 0.9 in adults 18-49 and 6.57 million viewers, highs in both measures for the show since Aug. 10. The finale fell 40 percent in the demo and 36 percent in viewers from a year ago.

Linear TV usage among adults 18-49 was down by 21 percent year to year, consistent with Monday's and Tuesday's declines.

On cable, Fox News' Hannity (5.16 million viewers) and Tucker Carlson Tonight (4.86 million) ranked first and second in total audience; both featured coverage a campaign rally for President Trump. Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals had 4.48 million viewers on ESPN and led all of Nielsen-measured TV in primetime with a 1.8 rating.

 

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Discussion Starter #220
Busta Rhymes Talks 'Masked Singer' Reveal and His Secret to Rapping So Fast! (Exclusive)
Busta Rhymes Talks 'Masked Singer' Reveal and His Secret to Rapping So Fast! (Exclusive)

The Masked Singer eliminated the first contestant of Season 4 on Wednesday when The Dragon was unmasked. After a fun performance, the costumed celeb was revealed to be none other than rap icon Busta Rhymes.

The celebrated performer opened up to ET's Deidre Behar on Thursday, and explained his inspirational motivations for joining the popular Fox reality competition series.

"I think everybody knows I'm always about the feel good energy," Rhymes shared. "I'm always about the having fun and turning up."

However, there was more to his participation than simply wanting to have fun. The artist wanted to be a wellspring of energy and enjoyment for fans who have been struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic, social justice demonstrations and the challenging times all Americans have been facing in recent months.

"Sometimes, in order to continue to fight these battles and challenges that we're facing... in the current time and place, we need moments to be able to refuel and recharge. And I think that being able to remember that we've got to live a little bit and have some fun and be able to loosen up is a part of that," he shared.

"I definitely wanted to be part of whatever it took to contribute to that refueling and that recharging, with making people able to have a little fun and laugh, even if its for a brief moment," Rhymes added.

One big difference about this season of The Masked Singer is the audience. While it appears to viewers at home that the show has a full house, the audience is largely a blend of groundbreaking computer graphics and composite reaction shots. For the performers on stage, it's a far different story and they are singing to a much smaller crowd than it would appear.

According to the "Break Ya Neck" rapper -- who performed a cover of LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" during the show -- there's definitely a difference trying to perform to a nearly empty theater.

"I think the beauty about performing live is the chemistry and the energy, that's unexplainable," Rhymes shared. "You cant really put a direct description to it. It's almost like a thing greater to man. That connection you make with the people, it's like a godly thing."

"Not having them around, it's definitely not the same," he added. "[But] you know that you still got to do it for them and you're doing it for yourself. And as long as you love it, you're still gonna do it the way you should, and that's what's important."

While Rhymes performed a cover on the show, he's carved out a place in rap history for his incomparable talent at speed rapping. Reflecting on his secret to pulling off some of the fastest and most memorable verses ever, Rhymes explained that it's all due to "Years of practice, understanding the science of breath control, and relaxing when you're actually speed rapping."

"When I do a look at me now verse, I actually stand in once place. Because the precision, and the focus on the precision of how I articulate, breath control has a lot to do with that. If I'm not breathing right, I can't deliver it right."

 
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