LOS ANGELES – Nicole Scherzinger says she had an opportunity to be one of the contestants on “The Masked Singer” and, for a moment, was intrigued.
“I sometimes wish I was in a costume because I could fool people and do whatever I want,” she says.
Instead, she signed on as one of the reality competition’s panelists – a spot that lets her gather clues and make somewhat educated guesses.
“It’s all in real time,” Scherzinger says. “What you see is what you get with us. We’re just like people at home, except we don’t have Google at our fingertips.”
Those wild guesses? They’re just part of the fun. Fellow panelist Jenny McCarthy says she realizes Beyonce may not be willing to wear a mask and sing on a Fox reality show for a period of weeks, “but if we need some sort of reference, we’ll use it. If we see some attribute or nuance, we can go, ‘That reminds me of Beyonce.’”
Because few were aware of the concept when “The Masked Singer” started, the stakes weren’t high. Now, as one of the hit series on Fox, there’s plenty of buy-in and attention. The network doubled its order of shows; the panelists (including Robin Thicke and Ken Jeong) are busy with other projects. To make it work, Scherzinger says, “the producers try to work around our schedules. We may tape a few (episodes) in a week.”
For McCarthy, who says she can’t sing, “it’s a ball watching the talent actually do this. I’ve never had a job where I’ve had this much fun and it’s so effortless. The show works. If we just keep doing what we’re doing, I won’t have to worry.”
Both women have regular outside gigs – McCarthy has a daily radio show; Scherzinger is part of the “Australia’s Got Talent” and “The X-Factor: Celebrity” panels. “I weave in and out,” Scherzinger says.
Like home viewers, the panelists don’t get to see the costumes until they’re revealed on the show.
“You get a real reaction from us,” McCarthy says. “'Oh, my god, I can’t believe it’s an egg.’ Who would have thought of something like that?”
And, yes, Scherzinger says, the costumes are customized for each contestant. “That’s what’s so brilliant. These celebrities get to start from ground zero and choose what they want to do.”
While playing the guessing game, McCarthy says, the four panelists lean on each other.
“We all bring something different to the table,” Scherzinger adds. “We’re all so different. Thank god we have Jenny because she’s the clue master. We’re competitive in that we want to know who’s behind the mask, but we do help each other out.”
And the idea that Beyonce just might appear? “Based off where the second season is going, we just might get her,” McCarthy says with a smile.