Ken Jennings is excited for his new role on Jeopardy! as a consulting producer. With COVID-19 guidelines in place on set (many employees, including the show's 96-year-old announcer is working from home, for example) and Alex Trebek still fighting cancer, Jennings is coming aboard at an intriguing time.
Jennings will present categories of his own, according to a new profile in The Ringer, will search out contestants, and will act as creative consultant on to-be-announced projects.
New executive producer Mike Richards explained:
He came to us and said, ‘I’m done competing.' I think that he feels like he isn’t as good as he was and he doesn’t want to keep pushing that, because he said he even had a little bit of difficulty in the GOAT episodes. It didn’t look like it to me, full disclosure.
But Jennings is not replacing Trebek on set and won't even be in the studio day in and day out. Richards added:
If you sat in my morning meetings with Alex as he was going through the shows and the clues and then you watched him host the show—he’s the host of the show. We’re not shopping. He’s our guy, and he’s our guy till he tells us he’s not our guy, and then we can have a different conversation. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to have that conversation until Alex comes to me and says, ‘OK. This is my plan.’
And what's it like on set for contestants? Nancy Bosecker auditioned via Zoom and got to compete. Because there's no live audience, though, she went another route to bring her family to the set in spirit. Bosecker dished:
My sister said if I ever got on the show, she would fly to Los Angeles and come see it. Of course, she couldn’t do any of that because of COVID. So she sent a giant blowup picture of her head on a stick, and I took it with me to the game. I handed it over to a producer and said, ‘Can my sister sit in the audience?’
And, of course, Jeopardy! said yes.