'The Masked Singer': Nick Cannon to Return 'Toward Second Half' of Season 5

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Nick Cannon will be stepping back on The Masked Singer stage.

Guest host Niecy Nash steps in to kick off season 5 of Fox's celebrity competition show, but Cannon -- who was sidelined earlier this year after testing positive for COVID-19 -- is set to return "towards the second half" of the season. The producers did not divulge whether Cannon would resume his hosting duties once he returns or in what context he reappears.

"Nick rejoins towards the second half of the season," executive producer James Breen revealed during the virtual Television Critics Association press tour on Tuesday. "I won't be too specific about how many shows but Niecy kicks things off."

Breen credited Nash, who was previously a guest panelist on The Masked Singer, for stepping in to fill the hosting shoes when they were scrambling to find a temporary replacement.

"We got incredibly lucky there because Niecy just stepped in pretty last minute," Breen noted. "And immediately had her own chemistry with the panel. She was just a producers' dream. Absolutely fantastic."

Celebrity panelists Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger and Jenny McCarthy all agreed, with Jeong saying "she's just part of our game-changing season." 

"Niecy's a boss. She's a queen. She's so fast but fun, relatable. And she took over for Nick's spot and she put her son in his place," Scherzinger joked, referring to Jeong.

Nash recalled feeling immediately welcomed into the Masked Singer family during her guest-hosting stint.

"I have never felt so welcomed. It's not like we started together. I just walked in the door and every single person supported me and was so kind," she said. "The producers, my hats off to you because they gave me such a beautiful surprise. I'm recently married. They surprised everybody, not just me, but I loved my surprise. They gave me a beautiful video message from my new wife and I wanted to cry my fake eyelashes off. I was sad to go, I really was."

Season 5 will feature a new twist, the wild card rounds, to spice up the competition where a crop of new celebrity contestants will try and crash the competition. Breen hinted that the format update will add a new layer of intrigue to the rounds.

"We we will get to know them [the wild card contestants]," he assured, adding that one of the entries has "one of the most emotional performances" of the season, as well as "one of the most emotional stories."

Another new twist to the season: the introduction of Cluedle-do, the show's first "clue-meister," a secret celebrity guest who "stirs the pot with new clues about the contestants' identities."

The Masked Singer also shared an early preview of a spine-tingling duet performance of "Shallow" from Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga's A Star Is Bornwhich you can watch below.

The Masked Singer premieres Wednesday, March 10 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox. For more, watch below.

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