We've Got Hollywood Covered

How ‘The Masked Singer’ Season 4 Will Work With 16 Contestants and One 2-Headed Costume

Fox reality chief Rob Wade tells TheWrap why the Snow Owls won’t mess this whole thing up

The fourth season of “The Masked Singer” premieres Wednesday on Fox, featuring performances from the first group of competitors vying for the golden mask trophy this time around — Dragon, Popcorn, Giraffe, Sun and Snow Owls. Yes, we said Snow Owls. Because while there are five contestants in Season 4’s Group A, there are actually six masked celebrities in that lineup, as the white, feathered guys pictured above are “The Masked Singer’s” first-ever two-headed costume.

With 16 contestants (BUT 17 stars!) competing this season and five in the first group, that leaves Serpent, Gremlin, Crocodile, Broccoli, Seahorse, Jellyfish, Mushroom, Whatchamacallit, Squiggly Monster, Baby Alien, Sun and Lips — an odd number of hidden singers — to make up Groups B and C.

So how exactly will the format work this season, as the show has never faced that particular problem before?

“Basically, it’s three groups and it was initially three groups of five. And we purposefully overbooked because we thought there would be dropouts,” Rob Wade, Fox’s head of alternative programming, told TheWrap of casting “The Masked Singer” Season 4, which was shot amid the pandemic from Aug. 20-Sept. 14. ” We could have actually gone down to four in a group, we felt, and still managed to make the series. But we ended up with five, six, five in terms of the groups.”

Fox’s reality chief said this “meant a slight finagling of the format” for Group B.

“Essentially, for the two groups of five [Groups A and C], the five-person group goes down to four and then four goes down to three, and then two move on to the Super Sixes. And the Super Six episode, which is six people performing against each other, there are three eliminations, and then the three who get through that go to the final. So it was just a slight adjustment to the middle group where we do a double elimination to get the numbers right.”

Now, how about this whole Snow Owls thing, where you have two heads competing? Is there any chance that’s better than one, from a competitive standpoint?

“First of all, on this show, they’re playing for a golden mask trophy. So, although we go by fairness rules of the FCC, I think competitors aren’t so hellbent on winning this as much as they would be on winning a million-dollar prize,” Wade said, with a laugh. “But nevertheless, you still have to think about the fairness. And on other competition shows, ‘The X-Factor’ for example, there are groups versus soloists. So it’s been done before and it is easy to compare the two. And I think in a way, their advantages are offset by their disadvantages. The [Snow Owls] were quite limited in their movement on set, for example. But you’ll see the outcome of how they did. But it was fun. Look, everything we try, we try for fun. Some of the things we do work and some of the things we do don’t. But I think the double-headed costume definitely works.”

Readers can head over here to find out how “The Masked Singer’s” fourth season came together during COVID.

“The Masked Singer” Season 4 premieres Wednesday at 8/7c on Fox.