"Jeopardy!" Likely to Be Off Air Indefinitely: "They Are Running Out of Time"
The ongoing strikes have put the game show in a tough spot.
If there's one thing you can count on in life, it's that Jeopardy! will be on every weeknight at its scheduled time. New episodes air for most of the year, with reruns typically filling the game show's late summer hiatus. But while Season 39 comes to a close this Friday, it's unclear when Jeopardy! will return to the air. Read on to find out more about the indefinite delay in the show's 40th season.
The Tournament of Champions is officially being pushed back.
The Second Chance tournament, which gives players who didn't win their first game another chance to win, is supposed to kick off the Season 39 postseason in September. From there, the Champions Wildcard tournament would play out, leading into the 2023 Tournament of Champions (ToC).
However, in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for Sony Pictures TV said that the ToC will be delayed in light of the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. Typically, the tournament is filmed in late August and September, but it will now be rescheduled until after the strike—whenever that may be.
"Jeopardy! never had any intention of producing a Tournament of Champions for season 39 until the strike is resolved," the spokesperson told the outlet. "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."
This announcement follows news that ToC competitors pledged not to participate while the strike is ongoing. Ray Lalonde, a 13-game winner, told The Washington Post that he already informed production of his decision to opt out back on July 21, and also announced his boycott publicly on Reddit. The post garnered support and similar pledges from fellow Jeopardy! champions, including Cris Pannullo, Hannah Wilson, Ben Chan, Troy Meyer, and Luigi de Guzman.
Regular episodes may air with old questions.
In the statement to THR, the Jeopardy! spokesperson said that the show "has a long history with and tremendous respect for the WGA and our writers," noting that production has "always been careful to honor our WGA agreements and we would never air game material not created by WGA writers."
The spokesperson continued, saying that Jeopardy! will handle the current situation in a similar manner to the 2007-2008 strike and deliver "first-run episodes" (as opposed to reruns) this fall.
They added, "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."
However, the material in question would be recycled questions from the show's 39-season history, the spokesperson confirmed to THR. They did not note an exact date for when these episodes would air—and episodes with new questions may not be back any time soon.
"The prospects are looking bleak for the writers' strike ending quickly and Jeopardy! getting back on schedule to start shooting Season 40," a source told TV Insider about the show's fate. "They are running out of time. If the strike continues they may have to delay the season indefinitely."
Best Life previously reached out to Jeopardy! for comment on the show's plans for Season 40, but has not received a response.
There may not be players or hosts—and tickets are still unavailable.
Even if Jeopardy! plans to return with recycled questions, with the Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) now also on strike, it's unclear if Jeopardy! will have a host: Both current co-hosts, Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, are members of the union.
The Sony spokesperson did note that both Jeopardy! and Celebrity Jeopardy! are covered by the SAG-AFTRA Network Code. According to previous reporting by THR, this code runs through next June and covers programs like daytime dramas, variety shows, unscripted series, and game shows such as Jeopardy! Per this code, SAG-AFTRA members can still participate in these kind of shows in the fall.
But that doesn't mean Bialik or Jennings would be inclined to participate. Bialik previously opted to leave Season 39 early in solidarity with the WGA strike.
While the spokesperson told THR that Celebrity Jeopardy! is also returning this fall "with original material written by WGA writers before the strike," it's not clear if actors would participate in the show, or would decline to participate in their own show of solidarity. The same question stands for regular Jeopardy! players in games with recycled questions.
Whatever the case, filming for Season 40 hasn't yet begun. TV Insider points to the website On Camera Audiences, which lets people know when they can apply for tickets to Jeopardy! tapings. Per the website, the game show's first day of filming is slated for Aug. 15. But on Reddit, fans noted that tickets "still haven't been released," and that date could change as the strike carries on.
Fans say they aren't interested in recycled content.
If taping does begin as planned, Jeopardy! shouldn't count on its entire fanbase to tune in. Viewers are certainly not thrilled about the prospect of recycled questions—and many said they'll stand in solidarity with the writers.
"I don't want anything to do with recycled clues on new shows while the writers are [on] strike," a Redditor wrote in response to Lalonde's Reddit post.
"Thank you, Ray, for taking this stand," another wrote. "I'm not a Jeopardy champion (sigh), but I can pledge not to watch any show taped with recycled materials. I will not support people or shows who cross the picket line."
Yet another added, "I will not be watching if they air a new season with recycled clues. It's insulting to the writers, fans, and the institution of Jeopardy! itself. I hope the strikes will resolve soon and the writers (and actors) being appropriately compensated and protected from this AI [artificial intelligence] nonsense."