The immediate future of “Jeopardy!” has been up in the air since the writers strike began in May, and now fans are learning what they can expect.
After multiple contestants from the current season stated on social media that they would not be competing in the yearly Tournament of Champions because of the strike, a spokesperson for the show released a statement explaining that while the tournament won’t take place, the main show will run new episodes in the fall.
“‘Jeopardy!’ never had any intention of producing a Tournament of Champions for season 39 until the strike is resolved,” the statement, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, began.
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Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings share hosting duties on “Jeopardy!” (Casey Durkin via Getty Images/Jeopardy Productions Inc)
“Further, no contestants from season 39 have been contacted regarding their availability for any postseason tournaments, including the TOC. The ‘Jeopardy!’ postseason represents the pinnacle of our competition, and it should feature our strongest players playing our toughest original material.”
Going on to explain how the show has managed to produce new episodes during the strike, the spokesperson stated, “‘Jeopardy!’ has a long history with and tremendous respect for the WGA (Writer’s Guild of America) and our writers. We have always been careful to honor our WGA agreements and we would never air game material not created by WGA writers.
“However, just as we did, led by Alex Trebek, during the 2007-2008 strike, we will deliver first-run episodes again this fall to more than 200 affiliate stations nationwide. Our current plan is to go into a holding pattern of sorts, pushing back the season 39 postseason to first produce original episodes featuring the best of our WGA written material.”
Bialik made the decision to step down from her hosting duties when the writers strike began. (Getty Images)
The announcement concluded, “Everyone at ‘Jeopardy!’ hopes that the guilds and the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) can reach a fair resolution quickly. ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’ will return on ABC this fall with original material written by WGA writers before the strike.”
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The original conversation about the tournament began on the “Jeopardy!” Reddit page, where a person claiming to be champion Ray Lalonde made a post titled “Starting The Season During The WGA Strike.”
Jennings felt comfortable stepping in as host for the remainder of the season because the clues had already been written. (Getty Images)
After a brief intro, the post read, “There are now credible reports that the producers are making contingency plans to start filming the next season of the show with old and/or recycled material if the WGA strike remains unresolved.
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“I am a lifelong devoted fan of Jeopardy!. I am and will always be grateful for the experience I had on the show and the opportunity to participate in the TOC is beyond a dream come true for me. That being said, I believe that the show’s writers are a vital part of the show and they are justified in taking their job action to secure a fair contract for themselves and their fellow WGA members.”
Fans were quick to share their excitement for Jennings’ return to “Jeopardy!” after Bialik chose to step down from hosting duties due to the writers strike. (Christopher Willar/Tyler Golden)
He continued, “As a supporter of the trade union movement, a union member’s son and a proud union member myself I have informed the show’s producers that if the strike remains unresolved I will not cross a picket line to play in the tournament of champions.”
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Fellow champions Cris Pannullo, Hannah Wilson and Ben Chan have also publicly refused to participate in the tournament if it were to be filmed during the strike.