Things are about to get wild on “The Masked Singer.” Season 5 premieres on Wednesday, March 10 at 8/7c on Fox, and with a new twist: the previously announced wild cards. These maverick crooners will shake up the competition by arriving throughout the season to try to oust a current contestant. But there’s something even more surprising afoot: Ken Jeong will actually be a good predictor! We know, shocking.
The cast and crew of Fox hit revealed Jeong’s new and improved performance Tuesday during the show’s virtual panel at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Here’s what else we learned about the season.
1. The wild cards won’t be at a disadvantage
You might not think it’s fair to the wild cards to come in later when the main contestants would’ve had weeks of performances and clue-dropping, but executive producer Craig Plestis assured that the panelists and fans will be able to connect to the wild cards straightaway. “You find out from their story packages, from their clue packages who they are — a little bit of who they are. Obviously we can’t tell you who they are. It just adds a freshness to the whole show and it just brings a whole new life to the series that we’re really excited by,” he said. “It really is just an amazing format.”
Added executive producer James Breen: “They’re just joining the game later, but we still get to know them. I’d say one of them in particular gives you one of the emotional performances of the season and one of the most emotional stories.”
2. There’s a new way to clue folks in
Season 5 will also see the debut of Cluedle-Doo, the show’s clue-meister — a secret celebrity guest — who will try to mislead the panel and fans with fake and real hints. “He messes with us,” Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg shared. “We think he’s gonna give us an amazing clue — sometimes he does, but sometimes he’ll steal it or not tell us. Or turn it around.”
3. The new twists are to freshen the show
Each season has seen a new twist or change of some kind, and there’s good reason for it. ”It’s always about how can we make it fresh, how can we do something a little different but still not go off the format,” Plestis said. “I think what we did [with the wild cards and Cluedle-Doo] was just the natural evolution of the format. Honestly, it was fun filming it and I know with the panel, with the twists and turns, they had a ball doing it, and I think America will as well.”
4. The A-list energy is high
Fox has already teased that the Season 5 contestants boast “26 Grammy nominations, nine multiplatinum singles, four Oscar nominations, three Super Bowl appearances, six gold medals and two world records” between them, but you may still not be ready for the immense star power underneath the masks. “The level of star power in Season 5 of ‘The Masked Singer’ is at another level,” Robin Thicke teased. “We were so amazed by the level of talent and star power that we got this season.”
McCarthy-Wahlberg added that there were certain stars on this season that she thought would never do the show. “To me, that was game-changing alone. I was like, ‘No way! They’re on our show?!’” she recalled. “Even though I feel like that every season, this one really blew my mind for many celebrities that come on.”
The interest level was so high that the show actually had to turn some people down — for now. “There were people we had to say, ‘Come back a future season,’” Plestis said. “We were very lucky this season overall and we’ll be lucky in future seasons.”
5. Nick Cannon will return eventually
After Cannon tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before production began last month, Niecy Nash stepped in to guest-host. Cannon will return in the second half of the season, but Plestis wouldn’t specify when exactly.
As for Nash, she’s loving her new gig, the only drawback of which, she said, is that she can’t give her own guess on the show. “I wanted my own guesses. Every time I had a free moment, I was somewhere trying to figure out the clues and take in the clue package,” she revealed. “I loved it because I still felt like a viewer at home.”
6. Ken Jeong is the new oracle
Look, it’s no secret what a flop Jeong has been when it comes to guessing the masked celebs, but who knows what’s in the water — maybe it’s his “Masked Dancer” stint — but that has changed. He is apparently blowing everyone out of the water in Season 5. “Ken Jeong went from Ken Jeong Wrong to Ken Jeong Strong,” McCarthy-Wahlberg stated. “He comes in as a real competitor this year.”
“I go ‘Queen’s Gambit’ on this, guys,” Jeong quipped. “It’s just a whole new look for your boy here.”
In fact, he’s so good that we may have a “Freaky Friday” sitch on our hands “I think Ken and I have switched places,” Thicke joked. “Ken is getting more right and I’m just going for the jokes.”