Nick Cannon—and his turban and mask—have been spotted supporting COVID relief, Black Lives Matter and underserved communities in recent months. Now The Masked Singer host could use a little support of his own, as it was announced this week that Cannon has tested positive for COVID-19, causing him to miss the first several episodes of the hit Fox singing competition’s fifth season.
Variety broke the news on Wednesday, reporting that in Cannon’s absence, Niecy Nash has been tapped to fill in as host:
Nash will take over as guest host as production begins this Thursday on Season 5 of “The Masked Singer,” and until Cannon is ready to get back to work. Cannon is currently in quarantine and resting, a rep for the star confirms exclusively to Variety. Fox expects Cannon to return to the series later in the season.
Also noted by Variety, the show has been strict on COVID protocols ince returning to production last summer, with panelist and comedian Ken Jeong, also a physician, keeping particular watch over safety measures. Jeong, along with Nicole Scherzinger, Robin Thicke and ardent anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, will all be returning to the judges’ panel when the show premieres in March.
As for Cannon, who discovered he had lupus nephritis in 2012 after being hospitalized for mild kidney failure, his diagnosis with the chronic disease places him in the immunocompromised category particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Thankfully, as he told Marc Lamont-Hill that same year during an appearance on HuffPost Live, he caught the occasionally fatal disease, which “can happen to anyone,” early. Clearly, the same is true of COVID-19, which Hill also battled last year and ultimately took his sister on December 30.
“I’m healthier now than I was before, so everything is in tip-top shape,” said Cannon at the time. “I have to get a lot more sleep, that was [what I feel like] maybe one of the stems of what started all of this, cause I never used to sleep. And fatigue would set in and your kidneys or any organs would start working in overtime and starts to eat itself. So that’s what lupus is.”
In other Cannon news, Variety also reports the entertainer and producer has apparently reconciled with ViacomCBS after the network cut ties with him following anti-Semitic statements made last summer. The company confirmed that not only did Cannon apologize, but has met with Jewish leaders to “make amends” for his inflammatory statements.
“He appears to be someone who’s genuine in his desire to make sure people understand his apology,” Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Associated Press (h/t Variety).
The efforts were obviously satisfactory to Viacom, which plans to revive production of Cannon’s Wild ‘N Out; previous episodes of the long-running series resume airing on VH1 this week.
“Nick has not only apologized and taken responsibility for his comments, but he has also worked to educate himself and others through engagement with Jewish leaders and on his platforms,” an MTV Entertainment Group spokesperson told Variety. “Those efforts are of the utmost importance and that’s why we have invited him to rejoin our team. On a separate note, we just learned that he tested positive for COVID and have reached out to wish him a speedy recovery.”