Who is the Disco Ball on The Masked Dancer? On the series premiere of The Masked Singer spin-off that aired Sunday on Fox, the costumed celebrity disguised as a Disco Ball danced to the tune of Bruno Mars hit "Uptown Funk" and stumped the panel of celebrity judges: Ken Jeong (I Can See Your Voice), Paula Abdul (American Idol), Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills, 90210), and Ashley Tisdale (High School Musical). Cricket, Exotic Bird, Hammerhead, and Tulip survived the first round of elimination, with the judges naming their best guesses: Smokey Robinson (Jeong), Ving Rhames (Abdul), LL Cool J (Green), and Lionel Richie (Tisdale).
Host Craig Robinson revealed the identity of the Masked Dancer when the Disco Ball unmasked as rapper and actor Ice-T, who made his film debut in 1984 breakdancing comedy-drama Breakin' before going on to star in long-running NBC crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
"Someone said Quincy Jones, and I was like, damn, Quincy Jones is like 86!" the 62-year-old hip-hop star told Variety. "But other than that, they could tell I was Black, that was one thing. But it's harder than the Singer because you don't get anything, you just get to look at somebody move. I don't really know how they’re going to pick anybody. At least with the Singer you get some kind of clue. But these shows to me are just fun and I think it's like watching celebrities and known people just have fun, and I think that's a good look."
Ice-T also revealed the trickiest part for contestants on The Masked Dancer isn't learning choreography — it's learning how to bust a move as a human Disco Ball.
"It's not that hard — until you put that 20 pound head on," he said. "And it just breaks down to like, not busting your ass on television. You could really fall real easy with this big costume on. So I went from trying to really dance hard to just kind of walking it out and just trying not to fall. Because now when you fall on national television, you become a meme."
He added, "You'll be falling for the rest of your life! I kind of worked it out. At the end I did some freestyle moves. I just went out to have fun."
Costumed celebrities will be joined on stage by masked partners and back-up dancers, as they perform a series of dances together; spanning from hip-hop to salsa, jazz to tap dancing and more. Each week, a series of clues will be sprinkled throughout packages, costumes and routines, leading the panelists one step closer to figuring out which famous faces are freestyling behind the masks.
Starting January 6, The Masked Dancer moves to a regular 8 p.m. time slot on Wednesdays.