The Masked Singer executive producer explains major format changes for season 8

Big changes are in store when The Masked Singer returns for its eighth season later this month.

In a first for the series, the new season will introduce what's being called a "King and Queen of The Masked Singer"-style competition with sudden eliminations and double unmaskings in every episode.

The way it will work, according to executive producer Craig Plestis, is that if there are three people competing, one person will be eliminated quickly, in the middle of the show. And then the two remaining singers will perform again in a "Battle Royale" each week. One person will be unmasked after that, and the other one will move on in the competition.

"It'll be roughly between four to three singers in each episode. It varies a little bit, but you will see new masks every week," he tells EW, adding that the new change is "really thrilling" and brings a lot of energy to the show.

This "King and Queen" style will last for three rounds of three episodes each in order to whittle it down to three semifinalists. "So there's the [first] three episodes, we get a king or queen. We do another three episodes, we get another king or queen. Another three episodes, you get another king or queen. So that's how we get to our three finalists for the semifinals," Plestis explains, though he would not confirm whether or not this means we will see another two-person finale.


The Masked Singer/YouTube 'The Masked Singer' season 8

"It's so exciting because you'll see, will someone go and sweep all three episodes to go into the semifinals, or will each episode get a brand new king or queen? Because they're tough," Plestis says. "We have some incredible talent this year, which is [also] really sad, especially for our panel, because they're so incredible you want to see them last a little longer. But it's the thrill of seeing them [unmasked] right away, to see if their guesses are right. It brings a whole new life and a whole new aspect to our show."

Also new this season will be themed episodes that will influence the song choices, costumes, set designs, and maybe even provide clues as to who is under the mask. "You never know who's going to show up in these themed episodes, who's going to deliver a clue," Plestis teases. "So we've upped the ante a little bit with these themes to make it easier for the home audience to play along. If it is a Vegas night or if it is a, whatever theme it might be, it helps you with the clue and the guessing games as well." Confirmed theme nights include "Vegas Night," "Comedy Roast," "Hall Of Fame," "Muppets Night," "Andrew Lloyd Webber Night," "TV Themes," "'90s Night," "Thanksgiving" and "Fright Night."

Speaking of surprise celebrity cameos, Fox has confirmed that famous guest stars will include regulars Leslie Jordan and Joel McHale, as well as comedian Jon Lovitz, Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Muppets, Will Arnett, Jodie Sweetin, Carrot Top, Blue Man Group, Lance Bass, Danielle Fishel, and Sheila E. Previous contestants Donny Osmond (season 1's Peacock), Tori Spelling (season 1's Unicorn), and Drew Carey (season 3's Llama) are also joining, though Fox isn't saying who might be there as a guest panelist and who could show up as part of a themed episode. "Maybe the show will open up with a special guest artist who will be from that era or from that particular theme. A lot of it feels like adding a little bit of a variety show mixed into our original format, which is fantastic," Plestis adds.

Plestis did say that one such guest star is a G.O.A.T. (for the uninitiated, that's internet speak for "greatest of all time"), which could further fan the flames of rumors about Tom Brady taking time off to film the show. Naturally, Plestis didn't name names, but he did tease that the new, massive 400-plus in-studio audience members "literally went crazy for" this person. And, because this is The Masked Singer, season 8 will also feature an actual living and breathing goat who delivers clues.

In addition to guest stars, usual panelists Nicole Scherzinger, Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, and Robin Thicke are back, with Thicke and Scherzinger once again returning to the stage for what Fox is calling "a couple unforgettable special performances."


FOX 'The Masked Singer' season 8

Also returning are the clue packages fans know and love — but the first impression guesses and Golden Ear Trophy competition among the judges are not returning. "We loved those elements in the past, but I think we have new elements that are going to engage the viewers and also just help them play the game," Plestis explains. "This season is all about everyone playing the game, because somebody can enter [the show] that night, they can get unmasked that night. So it's almost like all the clues are on fast tracks at Disneyland. Instead of waiting in line for five weeks, you're going to get it in one hour."

And of course, one of the mainstays of the competition are the zany costumes. Plestis remains mum on how many masked contestants there will be in total, but some of the confirmed costumes include Bride, Harp, Avocado, Sir Bugaboo, Scarecrow, Hedgehog, Mummies, and Venus Fly Trap. When it comes to the talent underneath them, Plestis says he and the other producers are "thrilled" with everyone. "Each unmasking will put a smile across everyone in America's face. Your heart will melt each time when that mask comes off, where you either say, 'I should have known it,' or go, 'Oh my gosh, I know that person,'" he says.

So no more Rudy Giuliani controversies, then?

"I like to consider this season, we have some of the most beloved celebrities and individuals across America and the world coming to our stage," he says with a laugh. "The magic is back, I like to say, that's my tagline for the show. We have it. And just come and experience it. You're going to smile. You're going to have fun. You're going to guess like you've never guessed before. And with new masks each week, with double unmaskings each week, it's like nothing else we've ever done before in the history of Masked Singer."

The Masked Singer season 8 will premiere on Fox Wednesday Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

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