"Jeopardy!" Starts Filming Today, But Fans Are Boycotting the New Season
The Writers Guild of America strike has complicated the game show's upcoming 40th season.
Jeopardy! fans will be getting new episodes next month, but not everyone is happy that the game show is returning so soon. On Aug. 15, Jeopardy! begins filming on its 40 season, which is set to premiere Sept. 11. And while that's a big milestone, it's also a complicated one given, how the Writers Guild of America strike is impacting the show. Because writers are still on strike, the show will be reusing old questions. Fans can also expect to see only returning contestants and just one of the show's current hosts.
The long-running series is receiving serious backlash from past contestants and viewers, some of whom have announced their plans to boycott Jeopardy! for continuing to film. Read on to find out more.
The new season will use both new and recycled questions.
In May, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike in pursuit of a fair agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents major Hollywood studios. The clues on Jeopardy! are written by members of the WGA, which means that no new clues have been written since the strike began.
The WGA strike began not long before filming was set to wrap on the 39th season of Jeopardy!, which meant that those clues were already written. The major change fans would have noticed was that the end of the season was hosted by Ken Jennings, who took over duties for Mayim Bialik after she decided to step down in solidarity with the writers.
Season 40 will utilize new clues that were written prior to the strike, as well as recycled clues from past seasons. Executive producer Michael Davies confirmed this on the official Jeopardy! podcast Inside Jeopardy! in August.
Only returning contestants will be competing.
On Inside Jeopardy!, Davies also explained that Season 40 will not feature any new contestants—at least not while the strike is still ongoing.
"I believe, principally, that it would not be fair to have new contestants making their first appearance on the Alex Trebek stage, doing it with non-original material or, as we'll talk about, a combination of non-original material and material that was written pre-strike," the producer said.
He continued, "So we're gonna open the season with a Second Chance tournament for players from Season 37 who lost their initial game, and winners from that will advance to a Season 37 and Season 38 Champions Wild Card." The Second Chance tournament was first introduced in Season 39.
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Some former contestants declined to participate.
The plan to have former contestants return hasn't gone smoothly. A number of former contestants spoke anonymously to Polygon and explained that they decided against returning, because they don't want to cross the picket line. Some said that they shouldn't have been put in the position to make this decision in the first place. Many winners also decided to boycott the Tournament of Champions, which had been expected to film in August and September. However, a Jeopardy! spokesperson told Variety that the show didn't play to air a Tournament of Champions until the strike ends.
A spokesperson for the WGA told Polygon, "Jeopardy! is produced by a struck company. Anyone participating in a Jeopardy production would be crossing a picket line comprised of Jeopardy writers who wrote the clues."
Jennings defended himself.
Jennings has been accused of a being a "scab"—or a person who crosses a union picketing line—including by Stand by Me actor Wil Wheaton, who participated in Celebrity Jeopardy!, as reported by TV Insider.
On Aug. 13, Jennings responded to a tweet calling him out for continuing to host Jeopardy! amid the strike. "You're a disgrace if you're trying to cross picket lines. Alex would NEVER do anything of the sort. He would turn over his grave seeing you act like that," wrote user @vanquishpoint.
Jennings responded by posting a statement about Jeopardy!'s "tremendous respect for the WGA" and highlighting a section that reads, "However, just as we did, led by Alex Trebek during the 2007-2008 strike." The sentence continues, "we will delivery first-run episodes again this fall to more than 200 affiliate stations nationwide."
Some fans are encouraging a boycott of the new episodes.
Some Jeopardy! viewers have expressed that they won't watch these new episodes while others have demanded that the show cease filming during the strike.
"No way I'm watching any version of Jeopardy until the strike is resolved. All you're doing helping to perpetuate the greed. And Ken Jennings is a huge disappointment," wrote one Twitter user. Another posted, "I will not be watching #jeopardy until the writer's strike is resolved. #solidaritywithwriters."
Another person tweeted, "Jeopardy shouldn't film new episodes during the strike, full stop. I know Alex filmed during the strike in 2007 but like, this is a different moment. Class consciousness is higher, and the situation more precarious." Someone said, "I'd hate to have to stop watching @Jeopardy. We watch it every day. But my household won't support circumventing the strike for convenience and profit."
One Twitter user followed show rules and phrased their thoughts in the form of a question: "What is… getting my daily Jeopardy fix from old episodes on Pluto because I won't watch a single second of the new season until the strikes are over and writers are fairly paid? #Jeopardy #PayYourWriters #WGA."