Celebrity judge walks out over Rudy Giuliani’s appearance on “The Masked Singer”

Rudy Giuliani unveiled on “The Masked Singer’ | source: Fox

Rudy Giuliani was revealed as an anonymous competitor on “The Masked Singer,” prompting a celebrity judge to walk off the set of the television show in protest. 

Key Players

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) served as a member of former President Donald Trump’s legal team from 2018 to 2021. Following Trump’s failed reelection campaign, Giuliani assisted several lawsuits seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Actor Ken Jeong judges “The Masked Singer,” a reality television show on Fox that pits masked celebrities against each other in a vocal competition.

Further Details

Each week on “The Masked Singer,” costumed vocalists are eliminated and unmasked, thus revealing their identities. In February 2022, before the first episode of the seventh season had aired, Deadline reported that Jeong and fellow celebrity judge Robin Thicke left the show’s set after Giuliani was revealed as a contestant.

Producers’ decision to cast Giuliani garnered decent media attention, according to Independent. Because of negative reactions, fans and analysts speculated as to when — or whether — the episode unmasking Giuliani would air. 

Inviting controversial personalities is not a new strategy for reality shows. In 2019, ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” featured former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer, Vox reported. A previous season of “The Masked Singer” faced criticism after former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was revealed to be in a bear costume.

In an episode aired April 20, 2022, Giuliani was unmasked after he sang “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood and The Destroyers in a rooster costume. Jeong stood with his arms crossed as Giuliani answered questions in a post-performance interview with the show’s host, Nick Cannon. At the time, the U.S. Department of Justice and the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol were investigating whether Giuliani had a hand in fueling the Capitol insurrection, and the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, was investigating Giuliani’s role in efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.

“With all of the controversy that’s surrounding you right now, I think it surprises us all that you’re here on ‘The Masked Singer,’” Cannon told Giuliani. “Me too,” the former mayor responded.

As Giuliani sang a reprise of the song, Jeong said, “I’m done” and left the judges’ table. Sources said Thicke also left the set to check on Jeong, though his exit was not shown in the episode, Entertainment Weekly reported.


Episode attracts few viewers, Fox exec defends Giuliani’s participation

The episode featuring Giuliani’s reveal drew 3.6 million viewers, the lowest tally of the season at the time, Wired reported. Rob Wade, president of alternative entertainment and specials at Fox, said, during a conference call about the network’s fall 2022 programming, that the company had “no regrets” about casting Giuliani , Variety reported.

“The marketing is all about delivering jaw-dropping moments, which is exactly what the casting accomplished,” Wade said. “And whether it was on set or with the viewers at home[,] I suppose my only regret or surprise was obviously the reveal was spoiled [by the press], but kudos to you guys. Just please don’t do it again. Thanks a lot.”

Giuliani’s legal troubles persist. On Aug. 9, 2022, Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court ordered Giuliani to appear in-person to provide testimony to a special grand jury investigating interference in the 2020 election in Georgia.