As a program that is best known for keeping its entrants masked up from head to toe, Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was already in a better position, safety-wise, than many other unscripted programs going back to production amid the pandemic. However throughout its Season 4 shoot– which started Aug. 20 and wrapped Sept. 14– broadcast TV’s highest-rated show obviously needed to go beyond taking its usual safety measures to hide entertainers’ identities to following guidelines that would assist suppress the spread of the coronavirus for cast and crew.
And while the wacky Nick Cannon-hosted competitors (which Fox decided would stay a Nick Cannon-hosted competitors in July, following his apology for anti-Semitic remarks made on his podcast) was implementing serious changes, like COVID screening, staggering call times, eliminating the large in-studio audience and removing off-site shooting, “The Masked Vocalist” executive producer Craig Plestis was finding ways to make up for what it had lost.
” When the pandemic hit, there were 2 big points, a minimum of for myself and my team: How to be creative in this pandemic– make it appear like a bigger program than we’ve ever done in the past, however with the limitations of shooting in a pandemic? And then the 2nd part is how to make a program with less people on the phase location, so everybody’s safeguarded,” Plestis, who developed the South Korean “Masked Singer” format into the Fox variation that premiered in January 2019, informed TheWrap.
When the fourth season of “The Masked Singer” premieres Wednesday, you’ll find out the answers to these questions consisted of a “very little” number of in-studio audiences, an at-home audience, fan ballot, animation and virtual reality effects, in addition to the show’s first-ever two-headed costume, the Snow Owls, the very first costume with animatronics, Serpent, and the very first puppet outfit, Infant Alien. (That last one is so cute Plestis “practically stole him from the costume department and brought him house.”)
” We used a lot of virtual reality in our set pieces on the phase and around the phase, developing worldscapes,” Plestis stated. You’ll see a lot of distinctions this season to with the virtual reality stuff, with the animation, with including America’s votes– since we could not have a complete audience of 300 people, though we’re making use of some audience video from pasts seasons to get that audience feel.
” And when America is coming back now in the fall here, we’re going through such a terrible time and this show is such a special little island away from anything else. I want it to feel like we went back in time a little bit with some new developments– and I think we really did that.
Likewise Check Out: ‘ The Masked Vocalist’ Season 4: Here’s Everything We Know – Up Until Now
” The Masked Vocalist” was “fortunate” in some ways while shooting during COVID since the show has actually been separating its groups out of secrecy from Day 1 and, of course, that entire mask thing.
” Instead of going out and shooting our ‘hint packages’ like we have actually done previously, with our contestants and costumes and teams of individuals, this season we utilized [Fox-owned animation studio] Bento Box and did them as animated shorts, primarily due to the fact that we wanted to just have less people around.
While Plestis was working out many pandemic-induced imaginative problems, the network was facing some useful ones.
” The whole keeping individuals safe, for me, was a logistical difficulty however something that you can control and manage and get to a place by comprehensive conversations with medical professionals and health authorities and so on, where you feel like you can keep people safe. “And so that was maybe the greatest thing I was stressed about, because I didn’t know whether our host and our judges and celebrities would even desire to come to set, because you understand people and I understand individuals, who are very understandably, like, ‘I do not really desire to leave the house at the moment.
Though host Cannon and judges Jeong, Thicke, McCarthy and Scherzinger took part for Season 4, Wade says that wasn’t the case for all of the competitors who had actually been reserved pre-pandemic, with some leaving as soon as COVID-19 spread, postponing their “Masked Vocalist” involvement until they feel more comfortable on a set.
” We had individuals who were too afraid to come out.
Fox “overbooked” in the end, having actually prepared for more dropouts, leading to a final tally of 16 entrants (however 17 celebrities, due to the fact that of the two-headed outfit): Serpent, Gremlin, Snow Owls, Crocodile, Giraffe, Broccoli, Popcorn, Seahorse, Jellyfish, Mushroom, Whatchamacallit, Squiggly Beast, Dragon, Child Alien, Sun and Lips.
Part of the plan to produce Season 4 safely for both the entrants and the team was moving “The Masked Singer” from its usual area at CBS Tv City in Los Angeles over to Red Studios Hollywood. Plestis states that change permitted them to get “as near to an NBA bubble as you can get for a TELEVISION program,” with a “locked down lot” that was only home to “Masked Vocalist” while it was shooting.
” We exceeded and beyond on the side of security, however I think it paid off. We’re done shooting and we made a show,” Plestis said. “We reviewed our protocols where everybody understood when and where we were shooting. And also with the stars, they were constantly self-contained anyways, nobody might ever go up to them. Literally, we were pre-COVID COVID for our stars since the secrecy of their identities needed to be protected. It just became part of the safety precautions as well.”
Wade says Season 4’s winner performed 5 times versus the nine times that Season 3’s winner, Kandi Burruss a.k.a. Night Angel, performed, as the focus this time was on keeping the number of celebs high while making the variety of times they needed to sing low.
” And the factor we did that was because we wanted them on-site for as short a time as possible. In our last season, people came to set, they performed, they left, they came back a couple of weeks later on, they performed, they came back a week later on, they performed. So in and out and in and out and in out of the bubble. We wished to tell individuals, you are available in, you perform, you have 3 days of shooting, then you stop and then if you’re through that phase, you come back and do another week of filming.”
To make matters even more secure for everyone on set, Fox had a medical professional in your home, Dr. Ken Jeong. Jeong got some experience shooting during COVID while hosting the very first season of Fox’s new singing competitors “I Can See Your Voice,” which taped 3 weeks ahead of the 4th season of “The Masked Singer,” and Plestis states Jeong’s “stamp of approval” on Fox’s security procedures implied more to him than “anyone else.”
And those standards executed to keep “The Masked Singer” cast and crew safe kept the show’s crowd even safer.
” The last big difficulty was audience. That was a substantial issue for me. From the very beginning, from March, it was concerning to me,” Wade said. “And we found different methods which to develop an audience or make the appearance of an audience and likewise to produce an atmosphere within the studio that lent itself to allowing the judges, hosts and stars under the mask to actually perform.”
That issue was resolved by having a “very little” variety of in-studio audience members, integrated with “super fans” who signed up with the program’s at-home audience through Zoom for Season 4. That lucky group likewise got to vote on efficiencies, something “Masked Vocalist” audiences in the house have never been able to do before, because a way to manage fan-voting on a pre-taped show had never ever struck the producers before.
” That seems like such an obvious thing to do, however it wasn’t obvious.– so we desire to go on Zoom and get like 300-400 people and they’re all going to phone in from their laptop computers.
A silver-lining Plestis “never ever” wishes to quit, even once he can get his big in-studio audience back.
” I still want to keep that open to all of America to vote. I believe that’s truly critical,” he said. “It was fascinating to see that individuals from all 50 specifies registered to get involved and to be able to vote. And it was a lot enjoyable viewing it, since I might watch all of America, due to the fact that we have a feed of all of their Zooms while they’re voting. And we open a little chat room so they might all talk with one another too.”
” And when we put the call to action out there, we did a little vide beforehand speaking about how they’re in the brotherhood/sisterhood of ‘The Masked Vocalist,’ might you please keep what you see secret,” he added. “Text and post your heart out on the day of our program when it airs, but please keep it peaceful up until then. And they all did! They were actually fantastic therefore pleased to be welcomed into the world of ‘Masked Vocalist.’ I never ever wish to give that up.”
” The Masked Singer” has actually likewise been gathering questions from fans over social media for the panel to ask participants to help make the show “present in now for everyone so they can seem like they took part.”
” However also, I just like hearing the fans talk. We actually desire to make sure that America’s heard throughout the entire program,” Plestis said.
” And we listen, myself, my group, when the show airs, we look at the remarks. We attempt to make a better show each time.
That’s what Plestis is hoping he was able to manage with a season that had to adapt significantly due to the pandemic.
” We did press things even further,” he stated. We were all in our homes so all we did was live and breathe ‘The Masked Singer’ lingo throughout the whole time.
” The Masked Vocalist” premieres Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.
‘ Masked Singer’ Season 4 Costumes: Here’s Your First Look at Squiggly Monster, Jellyfish and More (Images)
Plus: Baby Alien, Snake and Seahorse
The wait is practically over for “The Masked Vocalist” fans, as the fourth season of Fox’s goofy singing competition premieres Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 8/7c. And to get you a lot more hyped for the next round of the “whosungit?” thinking video game, the broadcast network has revealed the outfits for all 16 participants contending on Season 4. Click through TheWrap’s gallery to see each of them– all produced by “Masked Vocalist” outfit designer Marina Toybina– from Squiggly Monster to Child Alien.