Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Jeopardy! - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Jeopardy!

Posted: Updated:
Alex Trebek talks with 13News anchor Eric Wilson on the set of Jeopardy! in Los Angeles Alex Trebek talks with 13News anchor Eric Wilson on the set of Jeopardy! in Los Angeles
The view from Alex Trebek's podium on the set of Jeopardy! The view from Alex Trebek's podium on the set of Jeopardy!

This quiz show, billed as "America's favorite", has been on the air for more than a generation, and is still going strong.  If your response is, "What is Jeopardy?," you'd be correct.

The show's host, Alex Trebek, took some time between tapings to talk with 13News anchor Eric Wilson recently in Los Angeles about Jeopardy!'s success, Alex's future with the show, and Sean Connery.

Every day the 3 words, "This is Jeopardy!", inspire millions of people across the country to gather around the television to show what they know, or don't know, about a wide range of topics.

The real history of Jeopardy! goes all the way back to the 60s, but this version has aired for nearly 3 decades, and through that time, one man has become the face of the game, Alex Trebek.

"I think on a very basic level, it's a good show."

That's Alex Trebek's answer to the question about why the show's been around for so long. He's a big part of it, but he knows the game is the real star.

"People can play against their children. They can play against their parents, grandparents. It doesn't matter," Alex says.

Playing at home is one thing.  Making it into the studio?

"It's really exciting and surreal to be here in person," says Chicago contestant Sarah Orzalli.

It took her a while to get to Jeopardy!'s Los Angeles area set. Sarah took the online test in January 2012.  She had an in- person audition last June.  She got the call this January to be in L.A. in April.

"I couldn't believe it was really happening, " Sarah says.

She decided cramming wasn't the best way to prepare.

"But I did do a little review, played along with the show, reviewed the order of the presidents, and my roommate bought me the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy."

Alex says reading's a big part of doing well, but so is luck. If the right categories don't show up, you may be out of it.  Remember what happened to Cliff Clavin on "Cheers".

Of course, a show that's been around this long is bound to make it into pop culture.  Saturday Night Live's Celebrity Jeopardy! parodies are classics.

Alex says, "That was SNL's writers coming up with a great idea to make curmudgeonly Sean Connery the one who would get under Alex Trebek's skin.  We're so established that it's OK to make fun of us. And that makes me feel good."

While the celebrity contestants on SNL aren't the smartest, Alex says real life has been different.   In fact one celebrity, with all the right questions, is part of Alex's most memorable moments in Jeopardy! history.

"The million dollar charity tournament which Michael McKean won for his charity; when we had Eddie Timanus, a blind contestant who won 5 games in a row; the Ken Jennings episodes. He was with me for 16 weeks on the air," Alex recalls.

Three decades is a long time to do anything.   And while Alex recently signed another 3 year contract, he's vague about how long he's actually staying with the show.

"Until next Tuesday, or longer.  I'm coming back next year.  That's our 30th season.   And after that I haven't made any plans. I don't usually make plans. I just show up to tape shows, because I like it. And I'll keep doing it as long as I like it."

There are some big names floating around as replacements for Alex Trebek if he should stop "liking" it: Matt Lauer, Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper, Ken Jennings.

If you're interested in becoming a Jeopardy! contestant, keep an eye on the web site.   That's the first step - the route Sarah took.  Auditions are not open yet, but you can also sign up for e-mail alerts on the Jeopardy! site.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WREX. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and Mobile Privacy Policy & Terms of Service.

Persons with disabilities who need assistance with issues relating to the content of this station's public inspection file should contact Administrative Assistant Trista Truesdale at (815) 335-7856. Questions or concerns relating to the accessibility of the FCC's online public file system should be directed to the FCC at 888-225-5322, at 888-835-5322 (TTY) or at fccinfo@fcc.gov.