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‘The Masked Singer’ Host Nick Cannon Tests Positive for COVID; Niecy Nash to Fill In For Now (EXCLUSIVE)

The Masked Singer” host Nick Cannon has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, which means he won’t be seen in at least the first few episodes of the hit Fox reality series’ fifth season. Instead, producers have tapped actress and host Niecy Nash to fill in.

Nash will take over as guest host as production begins this Thursday on Season 5 of “The Masked Singer,” and until Cannon is ready to get back to work. Cannon is currently in quarantine and resting, a rep for the star confirms exclusively to Variety. Fox expects Cannon to return to the series later in the season.

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Season 5 of “The Masked Singer” is scheduled to premiere in March. Returning to the show as usual are panelists Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke.

The celebrity musical guessing game wrapped Season 4 in December as TV’s No. 1 entertainment series, tied with NBC’s “This Is Us.” While it’s been on hiatus, Fox has been airing the spinoff competition show “The Masked Dancer.” As “The Masked Dancer” continues on Wednesday with its top five contestants, already revealed have been Vinny Guadagnino as the Hammerhead; Brian McKnight as the Cricket, Elizabeth Smart as the Moth, Bill Nye the Science Guy as the Ice Cube, and Ice-T as the Disco Ball.

On the Dec. 17 finale of “The Masked Singer,” LeAnn Rimes was unmasked as Season 4 winner — the Sun. Also revealed: Runner-up Aloe Blacc, who had been dressed as Mushroom, and third-place Nick Carter, who had performed as Crocodile.

Since returning to production last summer, “The Masked Singer” has maintained tight COVID protocols, and Jeong, who is a physician, has in particular kept an eye on how the show handled safety.

Meanwhile, Nash is a very familiar face to Fox viewers. On the network, she recently appeared both on companion series “I Can See Your Voice,” hosted by Jeong, and was a guest panelist on “The Masked Singer” last season. She appeared on Fox’s “Scream Queens,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Do Not Disturb,” “The Mindy Project,” “The Bernie Mac Show,” and early in her career, “Party of Five.” She has also done a voice for Fox’s “Family Guy,” among other animated series.

Nash’s recent credits include the “Reno 911!” Revival, as well as FX’s “Mrs. America” and Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever.” She also stars on TNT’s “Claws,” which will return for its fourth and final season later this year. As a host, Nash earned two Daytime Emmy nominations for Style Network’s “Clean House,” which also landed her the 2007 Gracie Allen Award for outstanding program host.

Nash has been nominated three times for a Primetime Emmy: Twice for HBO’s “Getting On,” and in 2019 for “When They See Us,” the critically acclaimed Netflix limited series based on the exonerated Central Park Five. Nash also earned an NAACP Image Award for “When They See Us.”

In film, Nash’s credits include “Selma,” “Guess Who” and “G-Force.” Behind the scenes, she runs the production company Chocolate Chick.

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