Here's What's Going On Behind The Scenes Of 'The Masked Singer' Show

May 03, 2021Kara

For the last three seasons, America has waited with bated breath as celebrity contestants on The Masked Singer have been unveiled. If you're a fan of the show as much as we are, you'll understand the joy of deciphering the clues. Now, though, we've come to share a new set of secrets. We're taking a look behind-the-scenes at The Masked Singer's filming, from wardrobe choices to stringent security measures. 

Image Credits: Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez

Based on a Korean Show

The viral competition series is based on the South Korean show King of Masked Singer, which debuted in 2015. Contestants in the American series wear full-body outfits, while those in the South Korean series wear only masks and bulky clothes. According to Fox, the show was such a success in South Korea that it had been remade in China, Vietnam, and Thailand. A Hollywood celebrity even appeared in the South Korean version of the show.

Image Credits: YouTube/MBCentertainment - King of Masked Singer

Deadpool’s Unicorn Undercover

Ryan Reynolds appeared on the South Korean version of the show in 2018 as part of his promotional tour for "Deadpool 2." Reynolds sang "Tomorrow" from the musical "Annie" while wearing a unicorn mask and cape. Of course, audiences were astounded when he removed the mask and realized who he was. Of course, the show isn’t showing live…

Image Credits: YouTube/MBCentertainment - King of Masked Singer

Pre-Recorded Episodes

According to Entertainment Weekly, even though each episode is new to home audiences and the cheering crowd on TV makes it seem as though the broadcast is being filmed live, the shows are not really taking place in real-time. It is all pre-recorded in front of a live audience, though. Some of its staff is from another famous reality show…

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From DWTS To Masked Singers

Perhaps two Dancing With the Stars alumni contribute to the show's flashiness. Izzie Patrick Ibarra, who now works as an executive producer on M.S., formerly worked as an executive producer on DWTS. Alex Rudzinski, who also contributes to the Masked-competition series, also previously worked as a producer on DWTS. 

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Non-Disclosure Agreement is Important

Izzie Pick-Ibarra, the showrunner of The Masked Singer, detailed how hard she goes to ensure that no one discovers who the Raven, the Dragon, the Pineapple, or whoever it really is in an interview with Billboard. For starters, she requires both contestant's manager and publicist to sign a non-disclosure clause. Well, even the staff also had to do the same…

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Shame Sash

Ibarra also forbids anyone from using their cellphones while at work, and if they really must, she makes them wear a "shame sash." She said that anyone who uses their phone on set would be humiliated. When everyone tries to explain their need to use their phone, they must endure the embarrassing duty of wearing this pageant sash. The contestants have to really be sure to keep their identities hidden…

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Going Incognito

The contestants are required to remain entirely anonymous. We're not talking about a baseball hat and shades. Even when they aren't acting, contestants wear masks on set and during rehearsals to keep their faces hidden from the crew. During recording, they have rehearsed in various locations and arrived on stage at various times. Even those who are not celebrity contestants must hide their faces…

Image Credits: Getty Images/FOX

Hidden Faces

Faces of family, colleagues, managers, aides, and publicists accompanying The Masked Singer contestants are also hidden at all times. The celebrities have no idea who they're up against. According to the show's host, Cannon, they take no risks and consider everyone as spies. It’s good that they have a say on their costumes, though…

Image Credits: Getty Images/Getty Images/FOX

Choosing the Costumes

The celebrities choose from a range of pre-selected outfits, which they can then customize to their taste. "Typically, their outfits are a hint to who they really are," host Nick Cannon told PEOPLE. But then, even Nick, who is the show’s host, is kept in the dark as to who he will be talking with onstage…

Image Credits: Getty Images/WireImage/Steve Granitz

Only A Small Production Group Knows

You'd imagine that the celebrity judges and host would be able to figure out who was going to be on the show, but they're all left in the dark. Except for a select number of production staff, no one knows who is competing. They always have to go with their codenames so that they won’t be easily discovered…

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Using Codenames

Contestants' alter egos are given codenames such as Fox, Banana, Pineapple, Night Angel, and Unicorn. This name only calls the contestants until they are unmasked since no one knows their true identities. Of course, they are also not allowed to interact with the panelists backstage…

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No Backstage Interaction

Onset, the contestants are held in a different location from the panelists. Only when they're finally on stage in a costume can the judges communicate with them. According to Canon, Ken is the funniest of the panel as he always gets it all wrong even though he’s super intelligent. Well, we can’t blame Ken as they only get to talk shortly with the contestants…

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Single Questions, Short Answers

According to Margaret Cho, who was also a contestant, they agreed that they would only ask one question and that the contestant should reply with a scrambled voice. They don't want to test it too much because they may hear the individual in their cadence. People will actually find out who it was if they spoke a lot. They are even kept apart from other contestants…

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Keeping Contestants Apart

They separated all of the candidates. They were all supposed to arrive at various times on set. Each of their rehearsals was held in different locations, and they had no idea who their show's competitors were. Cho said that they had never met anybody and that she had never crossed paths with anyone in the whole duration of the show. It’s not only the staff and the contestants who must sign the NDA…

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NDA For the Audience

According to executive producer Craig Plessis, the show has also required everyone in the audience to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) for tapings that expose who is behind every given outfit. Midway into taping the season, they also started halving the number of people in the crowd to help discourage any secrets from being leaked. Even their voices are changed…

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Disguised Voices

Contestants' voices are auto-tuned and scrambled, especially to them, and used during the season when engaging with the panelists on stage. Out of necessity, this is intended to prevent them from being identified. They are not allowed to talk without their voice disguise…

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Remain Silent

Backstage, it would be best if you stayed anonymous unless you're dealing with one of the few production staff who knows your name, according to season 2 contestant Adrienne Bailon. Even though the quiet was "calming" for her, she admitted that not talking during rehearsals was always a challenge. They still have to give out clues, though…

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Giving Out Clues

Through hint packages that are dropped before — and often after — the shows, the contestants give the panelists and audience members a chance to guess their identities.  Margaret Cho told E! News that the celebrities are hands-on in giving the clues: "Well, they wanted clues that were pretty obvious, but at the same time, not." Only their team can work and talk with them…

Image Credits: Getty Images/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Will Heath

Work Only With Your Designated Team

According to host Nick Cannon, the contestants are given choreographers, voice trainers, and production to help them produce memorable performances. However, since confidentiality is paramount, performers can only collaborate with those assigned to their team. It’s not only the contestants that need to perform…

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Audience Has to Act and Vote

Also, being in the audience requires some acting. You have to look surprised to see a performance you've already seen countless times on The Masked Singer or pretend like you're seeing a performance that isn't really unfolding in front of you. The voting, which every audience member gets to do with a small gadget passed out before the performance, is one thing that isn't an act, though. They’re still not allowed to see who’s unmasked…

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Not Seeing Who’s Unmasked

The producers try to maintain the contestants' anonymity as much as possible since the show is shot in advance. The studio audience hears which contestant will be unmasked, watches them try to remove the mask, and then sees them "whisked" offstage, still wearing their costume. But then, they have to act like they did see who it was…

Image Credits: Getty Images/Alberto E. Rodriguez

Staged Surprised Reaction

The audience records their shocked responses, which are then edited into the TV show. The rest of the group is then invited to walk out of the room, leaving only the contestants' representatives, relatives, and family members to witness the actual unmasking. But before that, the contestants get to have a retouch first…

Image Credits: Getty Images/Joshua Sammer

Make-up Retouch

The Masked Singer may be a reality tv show, but is it really a reality show if the contestants aren't flawlessly made up at all times? It's no wonder, then, that the contestants are given time to get their hair and make-up redone before their mask is removed grandly and dramatically. After that, they’re still not allowed to say anything regarding the show…

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Still A Secret

The celebrities were not allowed to discover who else was on the show until their fellow contestants were unmasked and disqualified from the competition. According to Cho, you couldn't see when people were unmasked. She expressed frustration, stating that they had hoped to find out who it was. As you may have known already, Googling is a no-no…

Image Credits: Getty Images/FOX

No Phones Allowed

Did we mention that using the phone on set means you'll have to wear the shame sash? This holds for the audience, panelists, and candidates. They confiscate their phones, according to Pletis. When they go home, I'm sure they're googling like crazy; we ask them not to. But on the set, they don't have that luxury," he told CinemaBlend. At least they can take some notes…

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The Panellists Can Take Notes

Every judge is given a binder to write down hints and guesses, according to executive producer Craig Plestis. "When the cameras aren't on them, they're taking copious notes, writing down the clues—they're all very competitive and want to get it right," he said. They have to sit down for long hours, though…

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Long Hours of Filming

Even though the episodes are just an hour-long, tapings will take up to 14 hours. Drew Carey said he was on set for about 14 hours for the first two seasons 3, and each song is just about a minute and a half long. He described it as "a fever dream” because of the extremely long interviews, videos, and other material, and then they get to perform their song. We can only imagine how exhausting it can be for the host who was Ibarra’s first choice…

Image Credits: Getty Images/Amy Sussman

The Number One Choice

When the time came time to choose a host for the show, Ibarra only had one name in mind: Nick Cannon. From the beginning, he was Ibarra's first pick. She can't picture someone else hosting the show, not just because of his previous experience on programs like the Masked Singer, but also because of his fashion sense. They also have some techniques in finding the right panelists…

Image Credits: Getty Images/Michael Loccisano

Achieving the Right Balance

Ibarra revealed that they needed a blend of pop culture icons and musical acts to strike the best balance while selecting the four-person panel that would serve as detectives on behalf of the viewers.  She said that they didn't want to build a panel of singing experts who would offer professional critiques; instead, they wanted the panel's style to be comedic enough that the singers would know they wouldn't be dressed down in any way. Well, they got the perfect ones…

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Ken Jeong Was The Perfect Choice

Ken Jeong, the star of The Hangover and Crazy Rich Asians, was the first panelist, and he was a "no-brainer" for The Masked Singer crew because he already understood the show and the Korean version it's based on is "his mother's favorite show." It was said that his mother even insisted that he will go to the show. He's amusing, which is a plus point. The panelists follow no instructions at all…

Image Credits: Getty Images/WireImage/Karwai Tang

No Filters

When it came to guessing who was behind each mask, what directions were given to Jeong, Thicke, McCarthy, and Scherzinger? There aren't any...except for the fact that they should say everything without a filter.  They are instructed to voice the first idea that comes to mind, and the staff's goal was to make them aid the audience at home in gathering facts. They also go for the famous artists…

Image Credits: Getty Images/FilmMagic/Charley Gallay

The Bigger the Name, The Better

When the mask is removed, the crowd is still stunned, from Dr. Drew to Jojo Siwa, and the production aims to cast the biggest stars possible. According to Plestis, they aim to attract a diverse range of actors from various fields. The more famous a contestant is, the better. They cannot be independent when going to the studio, though…

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Celebrity Contestants Can’t Drive To the Studio

According to contestant Adrienne Bailon in an interview with Good Housekeeping, the contestants are picked up by an unmarked car service so that no one may claim that they know so-and-so drives a certain car or whatever the case might be. They actually make sure all the vehicles are empty, unmarked, and you never know who it is that's hiding inside. They even have to wear special shirts…

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Special T-Shirts

The Masked Singer contestants are not allowed to interact with anybody backstage and must wear shirts that say, "Don't speak to me," according to Kelis. On the other hand, according to Adrienne Bailon, crew members who recognized the cast's true identities and were also able to speak with them wore special shirts that read "You Should Talk to Me." Quite clever. The celebrities must also bear themselves for the clues…

Image Credits: Getty Images/picture alliance/Marcel Kusch

Get Deep with Clue Packages

According to panelist Nicole Scherzinger, the clues are about everyday human connection as the show is surrounded by real people we recognize as celebrities. She explained that we all know what we've heard about them in interviews and what other people have written about them, so in the show, they're attempting to share with us who they are from their perspective and their personal life experiences.  They have to deal with the costumes function…

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Flavor over Function

The costumes are intended to catch the audience's eye and hide identity and often interfere with the performer's view. Executive producer Izzie Pick Ibarra disclosed to E! News that the contestants can't see much, and being on stage is the most disarming thing for them. Of course, they are paid for their appearance…

Image Credits: Getty Images/Frazer Harrison

Paid for the Show

Although salaries are likely to vary, contestants on the Australian edition of the TV show received a signing fee ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 and a per-episode salary. Kate Ceberano, a veteran singer who won a $70,000 sign-on fee plus $5000 per episode, was the highest-paid Australian star under the mask. However, it's unknown how much money the show's celebrities get in the US. Lucky for them, they can have stand-ins…

Image Credits: Getty Images/WireImage/Sam Tabone

Stand-Ins Are Allowed

Since the celebrities' lives are so hectic, the show often employs stand-ins. Joey Fatone said that he was actually the Rabbit while he was onstage playing or speaking with the judges. Joey recorded the voiceovers for the hint sets, but a stand-in was used for the video part. They may also see the designs before they even decide to join…

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Peek The Designs

The Masked Singer team created 20 costumes before casting its 12 celebrities to give prospective contestants an idea of what they could dress up as on the program. However, after they signed up, Ibarra stated that they always needed the star to choose which they most associated, which always resulted in unexpectedly beautiful emotional outcomes. They have someone on the stage with the celebs too…

Image Credits: Getty Images/picture alliance/Rolf Vennenbernd

Unseen Background Singer

They aren't left alone on stage as not all of the performers are really singers. Plestis' daughter, who helped him discover the show in the Thai restaurant, is an unseen background singer. Clara, a talented singer and voiceover performer, had to apply for the role, and she didn't also find out who she was singing with until the masks were off. Of course, it will be hard to guess since they’re all from different backgrounds…

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Coming from Different Fields

Every season's contestants aren't all experienced musicians, but that doesn't mean they don't have talent. Season one's competitors made a total of 65 Grammy awards, 16 multi-Platinum albums, 16 Emmy nominations, four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and four Super Bowl victories to Fox. Did you already notice that some costumes are based on movies?

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Influenced by Movies

The rabbit suit was heavily influenced by Donnie Darko and Edward Scissorhands, according to Toybina, the costume designer. She also revealed that the Lion and Unicorn's outfits were influenced by Narnia, the fantastical world from the Chronicles of Narnia book and film series. They have freedom on their song choices too…

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Song Choices

The contestants get to select the songs they want to perform, but the producers will occasionally choose for them. Every episode will feature contestants competing in face-off competitions in which they will perform a song of their preference in their natural voice. Guess what? It’s not just the show that reaches out to the stars…

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Reaching Out to Join

The show's creators ask popular people if they'd like to be a guest, but certain actors would reach out to ask if they should be on it. Wayne Brady, the Season 2 winner, was offered a spot on the first season but declined.  He refused because he had never heard of it, and I wasn't sure if it would be one of that train-wreck crazy stuff. But later, in the second season, he reached out to them, and the rest is history. Now, here’s the prize they get for winning…

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The Prize for Winning

The prize for the winner of ITV's The Masked Singer is still unknown. T-Pain received a golden mask-shaped trophy after winning season one of the show's American version. The rapper, as far as we know, did not win any prize money.

Image Credits: Getty Images/FOX Image Collection

Knowing all of these behind the scene facts of The Masked Singer, aren’t you even more excited for the new season to be aired? You better try harder in guessing who’s behind the mask, though! If you ever need more clues, refer to the things mentioned above because there might be some easter eggs that you’ve missed. Share your thoughts! 

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