Fox Launching Unscripted Studio With 'The Masked Singer' (Exclusive)

THE MASKED SINGER: Alien in the All Together Now episode - Wednesday, Feb. 13- Publicity-H 2019
Michael Becker/FOX

The Masked Singer has a new producer.

Fox Entertainment, the studio-free, independent broadcast network, is launching its own in-house production company — Fox Alternative Entertainment — starting with the unscripted singing competition.

The Charlie Collier-run Fox is bringing production on The Masked Singer in-house, while season one producers Endemol Shine North America have exited the U.S. version of the global format. Fox's in-house studio will be overseen by president of alternative entertainment and specials Rob Wade, who will continue to identify formats for the U.S. and expand them internationally. Fox Alternative will provide the network with ownership stakes of its unscripted offerings while also helping to keep production costs down and generate larger revenue for the company.

The push will give Wade the ability to work directly with talent while also discovering and nurturing new voices in the unscripted arena. Additionally, the move will see Fox have reduced reliance on third-party production companies at a time when many are stretched thin given the proliferation of unscripted fare in the Peak TV landscape. Independent producers will now also have direct access to Fox Entertainment's production capabilities. 

Korea's MBC, The Masked Singer's format rights holder and global distributor, did not have production capabilities when Fox commissioned the U.S. edition. Endemol Shine North America was a producer-for-hire on season one after exec producer Craig Pletsis found the format and then sold it to Fox's Wade. Endemol was brought in as Pletsis has an overall deal with the company.

Pletsis will remain on board The Masked Singer as EP for its previously announced second season on Fox, which now serves as The Masked Singer's lone studio. Pletsis (The Apprentice, Deal or No Deal) discovered The Masked Singer while he was out to dinner at a Thai restaurant in L.A. and noticed everyone glued to the TV watching the series. He purchased American rights to the series days later.

For its part, Endemol will still produce The Masked Singer in a number of global territories, including Mexico City, Germany and more. In a larger sense, Endemol continues to have a successful relationship with Fox, for whom it produces MasterChef and spinoffs MasterChef Junior and MasterChef Celebrity. (Endemol owns that format.) On the scripted side, Fox has a pair of pilots in contention based on Endemol formats, including the Jason Katims-produced drama Sisters and Rachel Bilson vehicle Lovestruck, with the former heating up for a likely series pickup.

Fox became an independent broadcast network after its corporate parent sold assets such as its film and TV studio, among others, to Disney as part of a $71.3 billion transaction. On the scripted side, Fox Entertainment has been boarding productions from outside studios — like Warner Bros. TV's Prodigal Son — as a co-producer, as the network has not yet revealed its scripted studio plans.

The Masked Singer broke out as a surprise hit for Fox earlier this year. Sources say the celebrity singing competition may return as early as the fall on Fox.