The Masked Singer returned to Fox for its fifth season, but there was an important face missing from the stage. While Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke, and Jenny McCarthy were all in their usual spots on the judges’ panel, host Nick Cannon was missing from the celebrity singing competition.
In February, People reported that Cannon “temporarily” stepped down from The Masked Singer because he tested positive for COVID_19 during the production of the new season.
At the time, a Fox rep told Entertainment Weekly that Cannon was resting and in isolation as production on the show went on without him.
Cannon’s coronavirus diagnosis was just one of many setbacks the hit show dealt with due to the pandemic. Last year, production on The Masked Singer was shut down amid the global health crisis, and when filming resumed in August it was under stringent health and safety precautions to keep the cast and crew safe. Variety noted that Jeong, who is a doctor, kept a close watch on how producers handled safety.
Last Month, Niecy Nash Was Announced as Nick Cannon’s Replacement on ‘The Masked Singer’
While Cannon was missed on the Season 5 premiere, The Masked Singer welcomed an old friend to take his place. Niecy Nash, who was a guest panelist on The Masked Singer’s fourth season, took over as host during Cannon’s health scare. The comedian and former Dancing With the Stars contestant fit right in with the original cast members.
“Niecy is the boss,” judge Nicole Scherzinger told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, per TVLine. “She’s a queen. She’s so fast, but fun, relatable.”
Nash also told reporters that she felt very welcomed by the cast and crew on the TV talent competition. The actress and comedian is a familiar face to Fox viewers. In addition to her previous Masked Singer stint, she has appeared on other Fox shows, including I Can See Your Voice, Scream Queens, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mindy Project, The Bernie Mac Show, and even Party of Five way back in the day.
Nick Cannon Will Be Back to His Hosting Role on ‘The Masked Singer’ Later This Season, But it is Unclear When
It is unclear how many Masked Singer episodes will be helmed by Nash. At The Masked Singer TCA panel, executive producer James Breen teased, “Nick rejoins towards the second half of the season.”
“I won’t be too specific about how many shows, but Niecy kicks things off,” he said.
The absence of Cannon on The Masked Singer comes more than eight months after he was fired by ViacomCBS for past racist and anti-Semitic comments that were unearthed from an old Cannon’s Class podcast. Cannon repeatedly apologized for his inappropriate talk, but given the end of his decades-long relationship with CBS, some thought it would mark the end of his time on Fox as well.
In a statement posted by Entertainment Weekly, a rep for Fox said Cannon was extremely “remorseful” for his past actions, and would stay on as host of The Masked Singer.