When you think of celebrity talent shows, a few titles probably come to mind first — including Dancing With the Stars and possibly even Lip Sync Battle. Now that The Masked Singer has taken America by storm, you might be wondering if any other talent competitions have put established celebrities center stage.
The answer is yes, although you may not remember many of the titles off the top of your head. As it turns out, television had a bit of a moment with celebrity talent shows in the early 2000s. Networks apparently thought viewers were itching to see famous people singing, figure skating, and performing magic. For whatever reason, ballroom dancing seemed to be the only activity that stuck, which is why we can file the following shows under “One-Season Wonders.”
1. But Can They Sing?
For the stars of this 2005 VH1 show, the answer to the titular question was no, they cannot. But there was nothing new-millennium America seemed to love as much as a bad singer, so it made for entertaining TV nonetheless. Contestants included Morgan Fairchild, Joe Pantoliano, Bai Ling, Antonio Sabato Jr., and winner Michael Copon (of One Tree Hill fame). The group performance of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the show’s finale is truly something to behold.
Have you ever been watching a magician wow the judges on America’s Got Talent and wished it was a famous person flipping those cards? This 2008 series (also from VH1) would have made your wish come true. Contestants such as Carnie Wilson, Ant, and Kimberly Wyatt paired up with professional magicians to try their (sleight of) hand at the art. C. Thomas Howell of The Outsiders fame took home the grand prize. Runner-up Hal Sparks said in a 2012 interview that he was still practicing magic, so it’s nice to see the show created a lasting interest.
3. Sing Your Face Off
Before Lip Sync Battle, there was this ABC talent show in 2014 which challenged celebrities to impersonate famous singers, complete with costumes, wigs, and back-up dancers. Contestants included Lisa Rinna, Sebastian Bach, and Jon Lovitz. The winner was Tyler Perry’s House of Payne actress China Anne McClain, who impressively transformed into artists like Rihanna, Tina Turner, and Michael Jackson. As fun as it is to watch the less-than-stellar performances, it’s always great to see a celebrity embrace the challenge and truly shine.
4. Skating with the Stars
If you can believe it, this 2010 show was actually the second figure skating competition featuring celebrities. The first, in 2006, was called Skating with Celebrities. It was Fox’s attempt to ride on the coattails of Dancing with the Stars, to little success. Then in 2010, ABC did their own version of the concept, with Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel winning against names like Sean Young and Vince Neil. Figure skater Johnny Weir sat at the judges’ table. Apparently viewers preferred to watch celebrities boogie off the ice, as both shows only lasted one season.
5. Celebrity Duets
Looking for a singing version of Dancing with the Stars? This 2006 Fox show paired non-singing celebrities like Lucy Lawless and Cheech Marin with professional singers like Michael Bolton and Peter Frampton. Alfonso Ribeiro won the season, after duets with such talents as Chaka Khan and Gladys Knight. Interestingly, Celebracadabra star Hal Sparks also competed on this show, and even made it to third place. Similar shows have aired around the world, in countries such as Australia and Lebanon.
6. Celebrity Cooking Showdown
NBC tossed their hat into the celebrity talent show ring in 2006 with this culinary competition. Famous chefs Wolfgang Puck, Cat Cora, and Govind Armstrong teamed up with celebrities like Alison Sweeney, Patti LaBelle, and Tom Arnold to create some ambitious dishes. As with most of these shows, it’s clear that some of the stars were more experienced than others. Model Cindy Margolis ultimately won the season.
We’ve saved perhaps the weirdest show for last. If celebrity dancing, singing, and ice skating don’t pique your interest, maybe celebrity diving will. This show aired in 2013 on ABC and was based on a similar Dutch reality show. Drake Bell, Keshia Knight Pulliam, and Nicole Eggert donned swimsuits and jumped off diving boards for our entertainment. Skier Rory Bushfield came out on top, but not before rupturing his eardrum. It wasn’t the only injury on the show, which might be why we’re not watching any new seasons today.