TCA: Fox to Debut Competition Series ‘The Masked Singer’ in January

Dana Walden, chair and CEO of Fox Television Group, said it is business as usual at Fox amidst Disney’s takeover of the bulk of Fox’s assets. “Not since my kids were little have I been asked so many times when we are going to Disney,” she quipped.

Walden said the network mix "is going to remain as it's been over the past decade. I don’t sense there’s insecurity about that."

Fox has ordered a competition series called The Masked Singer, said Walden, which will debut in January. Based on a Korean format, The Masked Singer features celebrities facing off against one another with a twist: each singer is shrouded from head to toe in a costume, including a face mask.

Nick Cannon hosts.

“This is truly one of the most unique, genre-defining formats I’ve ever seen,” said Rob Wade, president, alternative entertainment and specials, Fox. “It’s a massive international hit, and its boldness and originality make it the perfect fit for Fox.”

Ken Jeong, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke are on the Masked Singer panel.

“There are very few hit formats left in the world, and when I saw The Masked Singer, which is a true global and viral phenomenon that has captured the world’s attention, I knew it had to be brought to life in America,” said executive producer Craig Plestis.

Fox has also ordered Mental Samurai, a new competition series that the network says “pushes every aspect of human intelligence and mental agility.” Fox calls it an “obstacle course…for the mind.”

Rob Lowe hosts. It is scheduled to premiere during the 2018-2019 season.

“When I was 15, I won big on The $10,000 Pyramid,” said Lowe. “I’ve loved mental competition shows ever since. For me, Mental Samurai is addicting. Every time you play, you think: THIS time I’m gonna win! But this very simple game is almost impossible to crack. Also, as a producer, I’m excited to get into this new arena.”

Mental Samurai is produced by Warner Horizon Unscripted & Alternative Television and Arthur Smith’s A. Smith & Co. Productions.

“Mike Darnell and Arthur Smith are two of the most innovative and creative minds in unscripted television whose collaborations have been responsible for so many attention-grabbing Fox hits,” said Wade. “Along with our incredibly entertaining host, Rob Lowe, they are the ideal partners for this one-of-a kind high-velocity competition series that takes the game show genre to the next level.”

Fox also announced a pop culture game show from Justin Timberlake called Spin the Wheel.

In terms of Fox dramas, Walden said Howard Gordon and Brian Grazer are at work on a couple projects that spin off from 24, a prequel and a legal drama.

Asked about The Simpsons and criticism of its Apu character, Walden said it is on the show's executive producers to decide the fate of Apu.

Walden spoke of Fox’s efforts to be more diverse on both sides of the camera, noting that 46% of the network’s VP’s are female. “We’re proud to be industry leaders, though we know there’s more work to be done,” she said.

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.