As a reference librarian, I am awed by the amount of research conducted for this show. It first aired in 1964 on NBC and became a daily syndicated series with Alex Trebek in 1984. Although Alex Trebek suffered a mild heart attack last month, he has returned to the show for the new season. Jeopardy!’s 29th season premiers on Monday, September 17.
Did you also know…
- Jeopardy!” has been granted trademark status as “America’s Favorite Quiz Show” by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
- “Jeopardy!” is the #2 series in syndication and averages 9 million daily viewers.
- Since its 1984 syndication debut, “Jeopardy!” has been honored with 29 Daytime Emmy Awards, more than any other syndicated game show. Eleven Emmys have been awarded for Outstanding Game Show/Audience Participation. Alex Trebek has won five Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Game Show Host.
- The highest cumulative amount won by a single “Jeopardy!” player is $3,255,102 in cash, bestowed on Brad Rutter of Lancaster, Penn. The total amount was a combination of his original appearance in 2002, the “Million Dollar Masters Tournament” in 2002 and the “Ultimate Tournament of Champions” in 2005.
- Ken Jennings broke the record for the most consecutive games played by winning 74 games in a row during the 2004-2005 season, resulting in winnings of more than $2.5 million.
- NASA astronauts presented “Jeopardy!” clues from the space shuttle Atlantis, while docking with the International Space Station.
- The “Jeopardy!” production staff has six researchers and 8 writers whose jobs are to create and assemble categories and questions for the series.
In an interview with Library Journal in August, the show’s editorial producer, Billy Wisse gave some insight into how the writing and research staff works. Wisse alone has written over 25,000 clues. First, Jeopardy’s writers create the categories, and then the researchers do fact-checking. For each fact in every clue, the writer has one source. The researchers then have to find at least two sources for each of those facts. The research process also makes sure the clue is “pinned” with only one possible correct response or that they are prepared for any other acceptable responses.
The show’s staff offices surround a 10,000 volume library. Interestingly, the writers are more likely to create their clues from print resources, while the researchers will track down the facts primarily from electronic resources. Some of Billy Wisse’s favorite resources are the Encyclopedia Britannica (shortly to be only available online), Oxford University Press reference sources, Nexis newspaper searches, National Geographic’s Atlas of the World, and Merriam-Webster’s Geographical Dictionary (especially helpful for pronunciations).
Something I have always wondered is what they do about finding out later that an answer was incorrect. During his interview, Wisse stated that the only time they will make an on-air correction is if it resulted in the contestant losing a game that they could have won. In that case, they bring back the contestant. Otherwise, they will fix the clue for reruns.
When asked what he reads for pleasure, Wisse responded that after 22 years of looking for clues and facts in his reading, it is hard for him to just read for pleasure.
Altschiller, D. (2012). Research in Jeopardy!. Library Journal, 137(13), 124.
Jeopardy Productions, Inc. (2012). Did you know… Retrieved from http://www.jeopardy.com/showguide/abouttheshow/showhistory/