'Masked Singer's Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg Says 'Any of the Final 3' Could Win

Jim Halterman
Finale Michael Becker/FOX

Frog. Night Angel. Turtle. The three secret celebrity finalists wearing those costumes will be giving it their final shot to take home the Golden Mask on Wednesday's season finale of Fox's hit competition series, The Masked Singer.

Each of the finalists bring unique qualities that have kept audiences voting for them, as well as the judges — Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, Ken Jeong, Robin Thicke and Nicole Scherzinger — rooting for them. And the excitement was certainly palpable on the night of the finale, taped in February at Television City in Los Angeles, as host Nick Cannon presided over event, featuring the last performances and the show's first-ever duet.

I was the only member of the press invited to the taping, and had a front row seat to the rehearsals. After the last mask was lifted, I felt compelled to get on the phone with McCarthy Wahlberg to get her take on not only the fantastic finale but also the entire season.

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So much time goes into each performance, which explained the six hour taping. Does the fact that so much work goes into these performances still surprise you?

Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg: Yes! Literally every episode I go, "I feel like I'm at Grammys." But the Grammys is something that these artists work weeks and weeks and weeks on and [on our show] they only get two rehearsals. The fact that they're putting so much effort in it and taking it very seriously makes the show so much better. It really is breathtaking.

Does it really feel like six hours?  Or does it go by really fast for you?

People don't realize that we shoot all day long and sometimes two shows a day, but it doesn't seem that long because we're being entertained. If anything, I get cold and hungry like the audience.

By the time you got to the finale, did you have a gut feeling who you thought would win or was it still a surprise?

We're only in season three here, but it was the most suspenseful one yet because each one of them are in their own category league. Anyone of the final three could have won and I knew it was going to be based on their final performance, because sometimes the nerves get the best of them. Sometimes they don't move around the stage because they just want to nail their vocals or sometimes they'll choose a bad song. So I went into it going, "All right, they all deserve to be here, but this performance is going to lead us to who the winner should be." But they all deserved it.

Did this season as a whole feel different with the A, the B, the C groups?

It did, and I liked it because sometimes before we had to try to remember what the clues were when it was like 10 weeks prior. So by putting them in these subgroups, it helped us retain some of the clues. Mind you, this was the most difficult season and to me it's just worked way better. I hope [producers] keep it that way.

You take notes all season. By the time the finale comes around, what does your notebook look like?

They call me a noteaholic. My tablet is hilarious because it's kind of a stream of conscious with names that are popping in my head and then I take down every clue I can possibly see. I do flip back and forth but I also know that they throw us, too, with some clues. There's some clues that take you on a different direction. So you have to understand their game in order to play the game.

Are you surprised when you or one of your judges are moved to tears by the performances? 

It really does. I mean Nicole has cried more this season I think than most soap operas, which I love her for but I definitely think that the contestants knew to pull the heartstrings. They don't have their usual tools to connect with the audience and that's been the interesting thing to learn from these singers. They're like, "Oh my God, I usually wink at the audience or make eye contact with people and I don't have those tools to work on the audience. So I have to use not only my voice but my emotions and have them come through." And I don't know if it's because of their talent or they worked harder at that, but we definitely felt more of an impact this season than any other season.

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In the finale, one of the performances gets Nicole crying. Do you remember choking up, too?  

I do remember loving Turtle's performance and thinking, "Oh boy, he's going to take it." But, you know, the Night Angel for some reason week to week kept talking to my soul. It was kind of like the wisdom and the pain of a woman's journey. That's what I felt through her music and I'm like, "I feel you touching my soul." So each one of us, I felt like had that connection with a different character in the finale.

Do you think that that heartstring pulling in their personal stories and journeys can be the thing that puts somebody over the winner's line?

Those stories, they really kind of get you because there's always some pivotal moment, whether it's in their career or even as sweet as wanting to show off and surprise their kids. To me that is so heartwarming. Like when Seal last season took off the mask and we're like, "Why did you do this?" He said, "I wanted to surprise my kids. They love the show and I wanted to see if they can guess it was me." So there's no doubt everyone's story move you. It's just whether it combines the talent with the story to push you over the top.

But it really humanizes the people under the mask because you realize they're people just like us.

You know what? That is a great way of putting it. Yes, it definitely humanizes them and you can see their vulnerabilities. With celebrities, that's one of the things that I think we value. I value seeing other celebrities be vulnerable because I feel like, "Okay, I can connect more with you. You're not just the story of perfection in my eyes. I can see that you struggle like me."

The finale is the first time we get a duet on the show, right?

Yes, it's crazy because again, it's not like they get tons of rehearsals with each other, but they pull it off always so effortlessly.

What do you think that brought to the show?

I think it just adds extra value in terms of constantly surprising the audience. Like, "Look, we can do this too." There's no set rules so we can constantly change them and constantly surprise the audience. When they came out with the duet, I was like, "Oh my God. I'm touched."

The Masked Singer, Season 3 Finale, Wednesday, May 20, 8/7c, Fox