A giant, furry one-eyed monster takes the stage. And a peacock. There's also a hippopotamus, a lion, some sort of alien and crazy looking rabbit. No, this isn't a Disney-Pixar movie, it's Fox's new reality series The Masked Singer.
Who are the real people in those sometimes-frightening costumes? They're celebrities and who have 65 65 Grammy nominations, 16 multi-platinum albums, 16 Emmy nominations, nine Broadway shows, four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and four Super Bowl titles combined. And in case it wasn't clear, not every competitor is known for their singing voice. It's up to Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy and Ken Jeong to guess their real identities and when E! News visited the set of the series during the summer of 2018, it's clear they were having a blast trying to figure out who's on the performance stage.
"What I really like about it is that it's really the only whodunit—or whosangit—show on television, and the fact that it's all well-known celebrities…So the people under the mask are really the star of the show," Thicke told E! News in the video up top. "It's very intriguing, even for my 8-year-old son who I brought to the set, he's dying to find out who the Peacock is, he can't wait to find out who the Peacock is."
The masked contestants have a hand in designing their outfits, so in the case of the hippo, McCarthy and Scherzinger said it could be a rapper because of the hip-hop attire.
"Every celebrity gets to pick their alter ego of who they want to be and that's how we try to figure out—or try to figure out—who they are, based on their costumes, based on their film clues and also their performances," McCarthy told us.
And if McCarthy was up on stage, she said her alter ego would be…a fork. Yep, a fork. Click play on the video above to hear more from the judges.
As for who Fox got to don these absurd costumes, host Nick Cannon assured press at the 2018 Television Critics Association press tour that, "Everyone is a household name. Like, you will recognize everyone."
Rob Wade, the head of Fox's alternative programming, said the celebrity status of the contestants was a huge discussion point.
"On a show where people aren't behind a mask, you can rely on the audience getting to know them over the weeks, right? You can have less well known," he said at TCA. "This wasn't that show…Now, it's very difficult to find a celebrity—this show is aimed at everyone from 6 to 60 or from 8 to 80, whatever it is. And it's very difficult to find someone that everybody knows. So of course, within that, there will be some your kids will know or your parents will know. I feel very strongly that this is a very, well-known cast, and I know most of the people all of you in here will recognize when they pull that mask off."
The Masked Singer premieres Wednesday, Jan. 2 at 9 p.m. on Fox.