Endemol Shine exits ‘Masked Singer’ as Fox goes in-house for unscripted

Fox is launching an in-house studio for alternative entertainment that will count the next series of The Masked Singer as one of its first productions.

The hit singing format, which launched in January and is expected to return to the broadcaster as early as this autumn, will continue to be exec produced by Smart Dog Media boss Craig Plestis – who has an overall deal with Endemol Shine North America – but Endemol will otherwise exit the US production.

The fledgling studio, Fox Alternative Entertainment, will sit under the Fox Entertainment network banner, colloquially known as ‘New Fox’, and is seen as a major ownership play for the business, which now operates independent of a studio following Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox’s entertainment assets minus the network — a deal that finally closed in March.

The in-house business will also help in keeping costs down across production, as well as helping Fox rely less on third-party producers. Fox’s top unscripted exec Rob Wade is to lead the new unit as president of alternative entertainment and specials.

Fox Entertainment boss Charlie Collier confirmed the plans during the network’s Investor Day, noting that the budget for the second series of Masked Singer will be less than the break-out first series.

Plestis confirmed to TBI earlier this year that producers won’t necessarily raise the budget for series two, but promised “creativity with the dollars we have”.

“Since costume height was always the one indicator of who celebrities were, we will play with size. It could be a much taller costume than the person who’s inside of it to give the illusion of height,” he said at the time.

“You don’t want to skimp on the outfits – those are the key for success and what makes everyone excited.”

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