More "Jeopardy!" Champs Announce Plans to Boycott Show
Several big winners have pledged not to participate in any upcoming tournaments.
As a beloved television mainstay, it's only fair that people are concerned about the fate of Jeopardy! The show is one of many facing setbacks amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild—American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes, leaving the production team with a series of major decisions to make. While Jeopardy! confirmed that it would be delaying the Tournament of Champions (ToC) until the strikes are over, other recent announcements aren't sitting well with fans or previous champions. Now, more winners have said they'll be sitting out the show for the foreseeable future. Read on to find out more about the burgeoning Jeopardy! boycott.
Producers say they never planned to hold the ToC until after the WGA strike.
Earlier this week, producer Sony Pictures TV confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the ToC, which was set to tape in late August and into September, has been delayed. Jeopardy! employs WGA writers to draft clues, and while they're on strike, they are not creating new material.
"Jeopardy! never had any intention of producing a Tournament of Champions for season 39 until the strike is resolved," a spokesperson for the show said in a statement. "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."
The announcement was made after a handful of Season 39 champs took a stand.
The news follows previous announcements made by several champs from Season 39, which wraps up tomorrow. Thirteen-game winner Ray Lalonde was the first to speak out on Reddit on July 21, writing that he'd heard rumors that Jeopardy! would film with old or recycled material.
As a result, Lalonde said he "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."
On the Reddit thread, several of the biggest winners from this season—and top seeds for the ToC—echoed his sentiments, including Cris Pannullo, Hannah Wilson, Ben Chan, and Troy Meyer. All pledged not to compete while the strike continues.
But while the ToC is being pushed back, the producers did confirm plans to "deliver first-run episodes again this fall" using "the best of our WGA written material." For their part, competitors and fans alike have not taken kindly to the idea of recycled questions, especially while the strike is ongoing.
Now, more champs say they'll boycott.
Following the initial pledges, other champs chimed in on Reddit, including six-game champ Suresh Krishnan and five-day champ Luigi de Guzman.
"I join with Ray, Cris, Hannah, Troy, Ben, and Suresh," de Guzman wrote on Monday, pledging to sit out of the ToC (ahead of the formal announcement from Sony). "The writers make the clues; the clues make the show."
On Tuesday evening, Jeopardy! super champion Amy Schneider, who won the 2022 ToC and just competed in the all-new Jeopardy! Masters, said she's also sitting out any tournaments that reuse questions.
On Twitter, Schneider wrote, "Disappointed to hear that Jeopardy is considering this course of action. For what it's worth, I, too, will not be participating in any Jeopardy productions that don't use new clues written by their amazing, unionized writers under a fair, collectively bargained contract."
Fans are boycotting—and calling for the hosts to follow suit.
Several fans on Reddit and Twitter have confirmed they won't be tuning in for syndicated episodes with recycled clues. In response to Schneider's tweet, one fan wrote, "Thanks Amy! Your voice is important. And I, as a longtime fan, will boycott, too."
On Lalonde's Reddit post, another fan said, "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."
Beyond that, several viewers have questioned where the show's co-hosts, Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, stand. Jennings took over for the last week of filming after Bialik opted to stand in solidarity with the WGA. But with SAG-AFTRA—which Jennings and Bialik are both members of—now on strike, it remains to be seen how that will impact their hosting duties.
The Sony spokesperson did tell THR that both Jeopardy! and Celebrity Jeopardy! are covered by the SAG-AFTRA Network Code, which includes programs like daytime dramas, variety shows, unscripted series, and game shows. Per this code, SAG-AFTRA members can still participate in these kinds of series in the fall.
However, whether Bialik, Jennings, potential Celebrity Jeopardy! contestants, or new competitors would be willing to participate is another question entirely.
On Reddit, fans were calling for Jennings to speak out. "Ken needs to jump on this action too," a comment reads. Another said, "It'll be really disappointing if he doesn't."