James Pearse Connelly interview: ‘The Masked Singer’ production designer

“I really had no expectations at all,” admits Emmy winner James Pearse Connelly while discussing his nomination for production design work on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.” “We’re coming off a really tricky year for set design and looking at ‘The Masked Singer,’ it was a journey. I have been on the show since day one… so I do consider this a little bit my baby.” Watch the exclusive video interview above.

This is Connelly’s 13th Primetime Emmy nomination. He won Best Art Direction For Variety, Music Or Nonfiction Programming in 2009 for the MTV Video Music Awards and has received multiple bids for “The Voice” and “Bill Nye Saves the World.” This marks his first nom for “The Masked Singer,” for which he submitted “The Season Premiere – The Masks Return” from Season 4. “There is so much work from this season that you don’t see because of the pandemic. We started in March and it went right through into June, July, I don’t even remember. And I must have done over 20 or 30 audience versions, pivoting every single time around a new law, a new code or even a new idea. As I look at these nominees, it’s kind of a survey of how everybody dealt with the pandemic. I’m proud of ‘The Masked Singer.'”

Connelly’s diverse array of work includes various reality TV competitions, game shows and talk shows. “The types of shows that I do, I don’t have to read,” he jokes. “I kid because I like it so much. Production design is such an important character in all of these shows. Early in my career I got recognized a lot for ‘The Voice.’ I think I got a little spoiled with that show. I put a lot of heart into that show, I continue to, I’ve done 21 seasons. I love this genre of reality, talk, variety. Being recognized for ‘The Masked Singer,’ though, makes me feel really appreciated as if I’m not just a flash in the pan.”

One of the toughest challenges of working on “The Masked Singer” is preparing the stage for each of the performances every week. “The VMAs has like six to eight months to prep,” Connelly explains. “‘The Masked Singer’ chooses a song three days in advance and then it’s a scramble to figure out concept. You’re working collaboratively with the director, the choreographer and the celebrity even though that person isn’t in the room.”

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UPLOADED Aug 18, 2021 1:30 pm