EXCLUSIVE: The Masked Singer creator Wonwoo Park is developing a Eurovision Song Contest-style format that will “bring people together regardless of nationality” and has addressed the Fox Masked Singer Rudy Giuliani controversy for the first time, stating it wouldn’t have happened in Korea.
Speaking exclusively to Deadline at this week’s Mip TV, Park, who has just started a first-look development deal with Fox Alternative Entertainment and his Seoul-based production company DiTurn, said that due to the Ukraine conflict he has been thinking up ideas “for shows that aren’t bound by their country,” inspired by Eurovision.
The format is being developed on paper and Park would soon like to take out to U.S. networks.
“I’m thinking of new shows where we can come together regardless of nationality,” he said. “It’s so important in this era with the Ukraine situation to think about entertainment programs that will make peace.”
Park’s Fox partnership has only been in the offing for a few months following the conclusion of a similar Universal deal but he is bouncing a number of ideas around and was at Cannes’ Mip TV meeting Fox execs for the first time and pitching to global buyers.
Coming up imminently is Fox’s Masked Singer episode that will feature Trump’s controversial former lawyer Giuliani, revealed by Deadline in February, and Park addressed the controversy that caused judges Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke to walk off set by stating it wouldn’t have happened in the Korean version.
“It would be taboo [in Korea] to have someone controversial or political on the show,” he explained. “But it can’t always be pleasant when the mask comes off and the more Masked Singer seasons [globally] we do, the more we realize you can’t always have contestants that everybody loves.”
Since he last attended an in-person Mip TV in 2019, The Masked Singer, which originated on Korea’s MBC, has developed into a global phenomenon and, having never expected the show to travel beyond China, Park is now boisterous about the trust U.S. networks are placing in Korean formats.
He is most excited about My Boyfriend is Better and revealed Lotto Singer, the first show to come from his development deal with Fox, is close to being greenlit as Park “waits for one network to make a decision.”
The former show, which has aired two episodes in Korea on Mnet, sees five boyfriends sing against each other while couples tell the story of how they fell in love.
Park grows visibly excited when explaining the show and said there is opportunity for spin-offs such as My Girlfriend is Better or My Family is Better, with potential to feature couples that have already achieved fame on other reality shows.
“Dating is a genre that is popular worldwide and buyers are showing a lot of interest,” he said.
Lotto Singer, meanwhile, sees viewers win cash prizes by betting on contestants’ performances and aired as a pilot on Korea’s MBN, proving, for Park, that U.S. players are now looking at Korean shows earlier in the process.
If commissioned, he has big plans for a “beefed up” version of Lotto Singer.
“When I’m talking to U.S. networks they are showing their confidence in our shows and it’s been amazing to meet Fox execs for the first time this week,” he added.
“When I started The Masked Singer I only thought it would travel to our neighboring country China and had no idea it would blow up after so many years. Now, Korean media companies are working hard to target the U.S. and UK with shows that are easily adaptable.”