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Why is Masked Singer’s audience live again? Do survivalists get a stipend? Have you seen this doc?

Why is Masked Singer’s audience live again? Do survivalists get a stipend? Have you seen this doc?
Is that a real, live, human studio audience watching Bull perform on The Masked Singer season 6?! (Photo by Michael Becker/FOX)

Is The Masked Singer still using old audience shots? It really looks like they brought back a live audience, but I cannot wrap my head around why absolutely no one (but the singers) is Masked. Any insight? —Nate

After two seasons of filming with fake audiences, The Masked Singer has indeed brought back actual human beings to gather together indoors, where they can yell and breathe on each other. That doesn’t seem like the best idea, but thankfully it does seem like the show is doing that in the best way possible.

The Masked Singer season 6 has fully vaccinated audience members, and also filmed the entire season in late July and early August.

In addition, the production had other precautions in place that—to me, a TV critic and anxious person, not an epidemiologist—seemed very reasonable and responsible: proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test, and a masks worn by everyone when cameras were off.

I actually didn’t mind the fake, virtual audiences—which were created with some impressive technology, plus old footage—except for the deception. Why didn’t Nick Cannon just say, Hey, it’s not safe for real people to be here, so we’re creating them instead!

This season, the show is also basically declining to talk about its audience to its viewers, and I just don’t understand that strategy. Why not acknowledge what it’s doing? Survivor did that briefly and effectively.

Given its status as one of the most-popular broadcast shows, The Masked Singer could use its platform to encourage more people to get vaccinated so we can end this long nightmare sooner. But given that how its sibling company and one of its judges have helped to undermine people’s confidence in safe and effective vaccines, perhaps there are other reasons Fox just doesn’t want to acknowledge what they are doing.

Are Naked and Afraid participants paid?

Naked and Afraid Discovery Channel

I would like to know if the contestants on the show get paid or win a cash prize for being on and completing the challenge? —Margaret

While there are no cash prizes on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid, the participants are paid for their time, which is standard in both television and reality TV.

The president of the show’s casting company, Metal Flowers Media’s Kristi Russell, once told Channel Guide, “We’re taking them away from their job and we realize that, and so we give them a weekly stipend to compensate for their lost wages, but no, there is no prize.”

What is that compensation? The only number I could find is $5,000, but I could not find an actual source of that number, just websites repeating it—like I’m doing now! Aack! Sometimes that amount is vaguely attributed to a 2014 casting application, but I think that may actually be misattribution, because it seems like there was a 2014 contest for which the winners received $5,000.

That amount seems plausible, but it’d also be higher than what Big Brother cast members make: the houseguests’ weekly stipend, which is written into the Big Brother contract, is $1,000 per week, increased from $750 as of BB15. Married At First Sight’s contestants get “a nothing stipend.”

In other words, I think it’s fair to say that Naked and Afraid participants aren’t getting rich from the show itself.

Have you seen this documentary? Help a fellow reader!

I saw a documentary about firefighters on 9/11. What stuck out to me was the way the film showed the names of firefighters that were highlighted [in] slow motion or a stop in the film. I’ve seen so many documentaries about that day, but am having trouble finding this one again or even remembering the name of it. It’s not [Jules and Gedeon Naudet’s 9/11]. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? I think I saw it several years ago already. —Sharon

Alas, Sharon, I don’t know which documentary that could be. But perhaps someone reading this will!

Any ideas, readers? Send them to me! You can also send me your questions about reality TV, and I’ll try to answer them in a future Ask Andy.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.


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