Sunday (Feb. 2) will be a musical day for the Fox network.
It will be J-Lo and Shakira. It will be Dan + Shay + Pitbull + more, including people wearing masks (shown here).
Also, there will be some football. And some commercials.
The game itself – 6:30 p.m. on Fox, in Miami – is promising: One team (San Francisco 49ers) used to reach the Super Bowl all the time; the other (Kansas City Chiefs) hasn’t been there in a half-century.
But Fox wants more than that. It will precede the game with talk and music, follow it with masks and music. In the middle, it has music.
The “Masked Singer” is especially important. “We’re putting the No. 1 new show on television behind the No. 1 television event of the year,” Charlie Collier, the Fox CEO, said last summer.
“Masked Singer” had burst out as a huge ratings hit. It shrank a little this fall – down 14 percent in overall ratings, down 22 percent in ages 18-49 – but is still a hit, easily Fox’s most watched show.
And yes, there’s a sports connection. In the first edition, two of the singers were football stars; alas, Antonio Brown and Terry Bradshaw were the first and third people ousted. In the second season, there was a boxer, a skater and basketball star Victor Oladipo, who finihsed a strong No. 5.
Now Bradshaw will be doing the pre-game marathon and new people – including some football stars – will be under the post-game masks. Here’s how the day unfolds.
The pre-pre-game (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET)
– “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed,” 11 a.m. A transplant from the Fox’s sports cable network. it pairs Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe, who has three Super Bowl rings.
– “Road to the Super Bowl,” noon. The annual NFL Films hour recaps the season.
– “Super Bowl Kick-off Special,” 1 p.m.
The pre-game (2-6 p.m. ET)
The annual marathon includes:
– Lots of football talk. Bradshaw will be there (no mask and no music, one assumes), with Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson and “NFL insider” Jay Glazer. Carl Menefee hosts.
– Some music, from a separate stage. Pitbull, a Miami native, does “Get Ready”; Dan + Shay – fresh from its Grammy for best country group – sings “Tequila.”
— A new step this year: From a DJ booth on the sidelines, DJ Khaled will play music selected by each team for its warm-up.
– An interview with the halftime performers.
Almost the game (6 to 6:30 p.m.)
Now we’re to the field for:
– More football talk. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are the Super Bowl sportscasters for the sixth time, with Erin Andrews and Chris Myers as sideline reporters.
– Demi Lovato singing the National Anthem. That comes a week after her emotional Grammy song, her first public performance since a near-fatal drug overdose six months ago.
— Gospel star Yolanda Adams singing “America the Beautiful,” backed by a children’s chorus.
The game (6:30 p.m.)
At first, the Kansas City Chiefs were Super Bowl regulars.
They were in the first game, losing to the Packers in a cavernous Los Angeles stadium that had a third of its seats empty. They were in the fourth one, beating the Vikings. Their then-owner, Lamar Hunt, is even credited with coining the name “Super Bowl” … even though some others had used it previously.
But then the Chiefs had a 50-year gap. Now they’re back, with a 14-4 record this season … including a play-off win that saw them come back after trailing 24-0.
During the Chiefs’ half-century gap, the San Francisco 49ers were thriving. They won the Super Bowl five times between 1982 and ‘95, finally lost in 2013 and then faded. After a 4-12 season last year, they’re now 15-3.
In this Miami setting, the show has a Latina feel.
Jennifer Lopez – who grew up in the Bronx, with Puerto Rican roots – headlines. She’s joined by Shakira, who grew up in Colombia, with Lebanese roots.
First is the trophy. Bradshaw, who has won the game four times, will be handing it out for the seventh time. There will be the locker-room fuss and such.
Then – possibly around 10:30 p.m. ET – it’s time for “The Masked Singer,” a show Collier is big on. “You’ll see us keep making bold bets, even some of the seemingly crazy ones,” he said.
The notion, taken from a Korean show, did seem a tad crazy: Stars – some of them singers, some not – perform under elaborate disguises. Judges oust them, while guessing their identities. In the first-year finals, T-Pain beat Donny Osmond; in the second, Wayne Brady beat Chris Daughtry.
And now? There will be some football players under those masks; Fox says the contestants total 11 Super Bowl appearances. And there will be singers – 69 Grammy nominations and 88 gold records.
But we won’t see them all at once. This edition will introduce six singers and then (over three episodes) trim to three; then the same will happen to two more groups of six.
They’ll be sporting new costumes; The Banana and others are shown here. Nick Cannon hosts; the regular panelists – Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Jenny McCarthy and Ken Jeong – will be joined by Jamie Foxx in the opener.
Foxx is sometimes a dead-serious actor – an Oscar for “Ray,” awards and praise for his current “Just Mercy” – but also does music. He hosts “Beat Shazam” and now spends the night with an offbeat show.
“The success of ‘The Masked Singer’ is influencing the types of unscripted shows that we’re pursuing – bold and brash, risk-taking and fun,” Collier said.
And successful? “Flirty Dancing” has already failed in the ratings. Next is “Lego Masters,” which debuts Feb. 5, behind “Masked Singer.” Chances are, Fox will mention it during the Super Bowl