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  • Writer's pictureKristyn Burtt

'The Masked Dancer' Adds a Powerful Punch to FOX's Dance Shows

The Television Critics Association Winter Tour is underway and there was a lot to unpack from FOX's day of announcements on Tuesday. There is a strategy going on at the network that involves a strong portfolio of alternative programming, with a focus on dance.

It's not secret that FOX's president of Alternative and Specials, Rob Wade, is a big fan of dance shows. After his stint as executive producer at Dancing with the Stars, he has continued his love of TV dance shows over at FOX, so dance fans should start looking at his current moves from a positive perspective.

The big news revolved around a spin-off to the wildly successful series, The Masked Singer, called The Masked Dancer. FOX loved Ellen DeGeneres' segment from The Ellen Show, which creatively used dance in the same way The Masked Singer used singing.

The premise is simple, the competition show will have "celebrity contestants (performing) unique dances, while covered from head-to-toe in elaborate costumes and face masks, leaving audiences to guess their identities,” according to FOX's press release. DeGeneres will also be an executive producer on the show.

One of the big question is whether Deena Katz, who is co-executive producer on DWTS and The Masked Singer, will be a part of The Masked Dancer team. Katz is the one who finds the talent for each show and the battle for bigger celebrities has been won by The Masked Singer in the past two seasons.

Will adding The Masked Dancer to the mix make it even harder for DWTS to cast contestants? If a celebrity didn't want to sing, they might want to dance and dance on a fresher show that draws a lot of buzz on social media. That is one challenge DWTS is going to have to fight.

There is also a mystery that is continuing around the renewal of So You Think You Can Dance for Season 17. The show does not have the green light for next season just yet, but Wade is a vocal supporter of the show.

In a Deadline interview this week, he said, “[the] right shows will come back," about on-the-bubble shows for renewal like SYTYCD, Mental Samurai and First Responders Live. The obstacle for any summer series this year is the fact that the Summer Olympics in Tokyo disrupt two weeks of network programming in late July through early August. Outside of the NBC Universal networks, FOX and others will be airing reruns.

The strategy behind FOX's programming also sheds more light on the fact that they are stacking talent in the dance and choreography industry. The Masked Dancer will also require the skills of top-level choreographers, so keeping the DWTS, SYTYCD and Flirty Dancing crew working consistently seems to be an understated goal of Wade's. It also keeps the Outstanding Choreography nomination possibilities flowing come Emmys time.

While there are more questions still to be answered, including SYTYCD's Season 17 renewal and the uneven ratings so far with Flirty Dancing, FOX is keeping their dance strategy strong.


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