PASADENA, Calif. — Could the Bee possibly be Philly’s own Patti LaBelle? Is the man inside the Peacock Neil Patrick Harris?

Your guesses about the identities of any of the remaining contestants on Fox’s The Masked Singer are as good (or probably better) than mine.

But as reporters at the Television Critics Association’s winter meetings met last week with the host, panelists, and producers of the hit reality show and with the unmasked Raven, former talk show host (and Hairspray star) Ricki Lake, we did learn a few things, mostly about the lengths the show has gone to keep its secrets:

  • The celebrity contestants don’t get a peek behind one another’s masks until the audience does. “I did not know who anybody else was,” Lake said. “We were sequestered for the most part, and whenever we were in the same vicinity, we were completely covered. They were diligent about making sure we had the hoods and the visors and the whole thing.”
  • The studio audiences had reasons to keep the show’s secrets. “Everyone who came to the set, who were in the audience, they had to sign [nondisclosure agreements],” said executive producer Craig Plestis. "And when we actually had the unmasking … the audience itself was mainly composed of friends and family. And we asked everyone also involved on the show, when this was taping, ‘You are here for something special. This is our first time we are taping it. We hope you keep it quiet. You can tweet and talk about it the day it airs after the unmasking, but you are part of our family now, and we’d ask you to please keep this a secret.’ " As for the next season, “there’s going to be a lot more security. … We have contacted the Pentagon already.”
  • It wasn’t only celebrities who were shrouded on the set, and coming and going from the studio. “A lot of the celebrities had their managers or publicists also be covered because they were recognizable,” panelist Jenny McCarthy said. 
Ricki Lake, the unmasked Raven, in the Feb. 6 episode of Fox's "The Masked Singer."
Michael Becker/Fox
Ricki Lake, the unmasked Raven, in the Feb. 6 episode of Fox's "The Masked Singer."
  • Even most senior Fox executives didn’t know the identities of the masked singers. They “didn’t want to know because they were terrified that they would give it away at a dinner party or something,” said Rob Wade, Fox president of alternative entertainment and specials.
  • Some performances are (no surprise here) enhanced. Though Plestis talked around a question about the use of auto-tune, noting that “everyone had to sing live and they only had one take each,” host Nick Cannon was a little more forthcoming. “There’s certain songs, especially nowadays, every song has auto-tune [in] it. So if you want to be accurate and sound good and sound like the song, you’re going to have the vocal effects. So we had a great team of producers and mixers that kind of made them sound exactly or as close to the record as possible.”
  • McCarthy is still holding out a little hope for a masked Lady Gaga. Or at least she wants us to. “I think the clues really helped narrow it down as we went along. But I still thought all the way up until the last show there could be Lady Gaga," she said, and then, remembering that we haven’t seen the finale, added, "and there still can be.”
  • The celebrity guessers aren’t resorting to Google between tapings. They were asked not to, and “I really wanted it to be pure, you know. That’s the whole point of the show, is that you want to be honest,” said Robin Thicke. “You have your hair to focus on in between taping,” joked Ken Jeong.
  • The real star of The Masked Singer is Marina Toybina. The Emmy-winning costume designer is responsible for the looks I still think of as something out of a fever dream. Singers were given their choice of “the one that spoke to them most," said executive producer Izzie Pick Ibarra. “Or they could choose and ask for something bespoke, which some of them did, as well.”
  • McCarthy sees herself as a cheeseburger. Yes, asked what animal she’d choose to be costumed as if she were competing, she chose a cheeseburger. Fellow panelist Nicole Scherzinger, not to be outdone, suggested she’d opt for “a slice of pizza.”
  • The Raven was playing in pain. “I had sciatica during this period of making this show, so I could barely walk,” Lake said. “I still managed to have a great time.”

The Masked Singer. 9 p.m. Wednesday, Fox.