Jeopardy! has gamely tackled filming with COVID-19 precautions and dealing with longtime host Alex Trebek's death. Now, rotating guest hosts stand at Trebek's podium, while contestants, execs, and crew deal with the aforementioned twin challenges. The Ringer delved deep into what it's like behind the scenes on the game show these days.
Each guest host rehearses for a full day before filming, going over blocking and the whole schedule. That involves hosting faux games of Jeopardy!, with researchers and writers as mock-contestants and using past clues. But COVID has meant numerous changes; longtime announcer Johnny Gilbert, 92, tapes his intros remotely. Executive producer Mike Richards himself had to step behind the lectern when COVID cases soared in California.
He said Aaron Rodgers was the best guest host they had seen so far.
Currently, contestants don't know who will be hosting their episode until they arrive for filming. The show tapes multiple episodes a day. A contestant whose episode hasn't yet hit the air remembered McGuire saying that filming later in the day might be helpful. They recalled McGuire stating:
He was like, ‘You guys are in luck that you get to sit through another game, so you can be listening for [the host’s] cadence.’
Meanwhile, Jeopardy! has gone all out with its COVID precautions, including N95 masks for all contestants, proper spacing, and more. But the show has faced criticism over some of its host choices, including Dr. Mehmet Oz. Richards explained:
I have seen positive and negative about everyone we’ve announced, beginning with Ken [Jennings]. I hope people find kindness as each person comes through, because there’s been backlash with everyone, and so based on that, we’d never have anyone. I think it will be really interesting to see once the shows start airing. I think things in the abstract are way worse than in the concrete.