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Billy Bush's 'Masked Singer' Audition Was Filmed Without Him Knowing

Billy Bush performs on 'The Masked Singer' season 11

Usually Billy Bush is the one to report on the headlines and outrageous moments made by stars. But on The Masked Singer, it was his turn to take the center ring, dressed appropriately as the circus-focused Sir Lion. Unfortunately, his premiere on "TV Theme Night" was also his finale. But he was able to stump the judges with his identity, something he promises to hold over Robin Thicke's head for a long time.

The day after his reveal, Billy spoke to Parade.com about how his producers got him on The Masked Singer without him knowing, his reaction and struggles in the regal costume, and what to expect from the 30th season of Extra.

Related:
Everything to Know About The Masked Singer Season 11

So how did you get involved with The Masked Singer?
Our show is on a lot of FOS affiliates. And in all the major markets, New York, L.A. Chicago, San Fran, Philly, all that stuff. I sing all the time. From the moment I walk in, I'm singing. I sing in the dressing room. I sing as I walk to the set. So I think our producers were like, "You know what? Let's just start filming him." So they filmed me a little bit. And then they sent it over there and said, "Please take him off our hands. This guy, you need him." And they said, "Oh my god. Definitely." And so they called me.

Did you not know you were being filmed until you were contacted for the show?
I didn't know. But every time I would sing, they were apparently sneaking in here and catching me on the iPhone. And they just sent some raw footage over there. And they said, "He's a total ham."

Sounds more TMZ than Extra.
I know! What the hell? you're allowed to do that? 

What was your reaction to the Sir Lion costume? I know the judges were absolutely loving it.
They said, "We have a great costume for you. We think it is so regal and so cool. You're gonna love it." And I was like, "I don't want to be a gumball machine. I don't want to be a candy cane." And then they showed me the costume. I said, "Wow, that's Beauty and the Beast, all in one. That's movie star lion. That is so cool." So I said, "Absolutely. Please, I would love it."

How difficult was it to navigate the stage in the costume?
The helmet is massively heavy and very big. And the eye slit is so small, you don't even know where it is. So you're very limited with motion. And I had little pangs of panic attack in the beginning because I felt trapped in there. And then I would take it off for a little bit and then I get back in. It took me a minute to acclimate. I could never put it on and go out and perform. I would have melted down. 

As a TV host, you appropriately got to perform on "TV Theme Night." How'd you feel about getting to perform the theme song to Married...with Children?
I think if I had said, "I really don't want to do this, they would have gone with something else." But they were kind of like, "This is a good one. It was a big popular show. And we'd really want someone to sing it. Will you do it?" And I was like, "Yeah, sure. Whatever you want."

And then you get to face off against Lizard in the Smackdown. Were you surprised you went over him?
I was better than Lizard! I was robbed. I crushed Lizard. I am saying it was absolutely rigged. It's a rigged election. Let's go crazy.

[Laughs.] What was your reaction from the judges when they were guessing a bunch of other TV hosts like Ryan Seacrest, Anderson Cooper, and Andy Cohen?
I said, "Well, at least when they reveal me, they were in the right area." I'm the one that got away. I thought Andy Cohen was the closest. I thought for a minute I was Andy Cohen when they said that. But I know these judges very well. I've been doing this for so long. I've interviewed them. I mean, I was just in Mexico this past weekend with Robin Thicke. And it none of them got me. And if you listen to the song again, you know my voice when you hear it.

Was that something you got to hold over Robin's head? "You couldn't even figure out my voice behind that giant costume?
"Come on, dude!" We had dinner one night. I was like, "Really? Really, dude?! You should have picked that up." But I would think that's so much fun to be a judge on that show.

Finally, what can you tease us about season 30 of Extra? A milestone season!
Oh my God. It's been around almost as long as The Simpsons. But right now we're all over the Diddy story. And the angle I'm going with tonight is, "Fiddy versus Diddy." 50 Cent, he's one of the great internet trolls of our era. And he is reveling in the demise. of Diddy. As we learn new details that are troubling, they're sordid, and he calls it a witch hunt. But, at some point, you should probably come out and start defending yourself a little more vigorously. Because if we just keep hearing these allegations over and over again, the court of public opinion is gonna shut it down for you. And his empire is crumbling, for sure.

Do you visualize Extra going on for another 30 years, and beyond?
Everything comes around again. Yeah, it's all about streaming. But the streaming model isn't isn't a great moneymaker. I think the business is figuring out, with producers especially, how do we make money again, like we used to with the old model? And I think if you're television station that isn't going anywhere, you say, "Well, if it's not Extra, what is it? What do we replace it with?" And it's tried and true. So I think it goes on forever, honestly.

If you get the option, would you wear the Sir Lion costume while hosting Extra?
I'm dropping the album very soon. I just need to record nine more tracks. Sir lion is going out on the road. He's doing a full tour. It's gonna be very big.

The lion sleeps tonight, but he's in the studio tomorrow!
[Laughs.] Exactly. [Begins to sing "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."]

Next, check out our interview with Joe Bastianich, who was eliminated in The Masked Singer Season 11 Episode 3.