There’s little doubt that being a Jeopardy! host isn’t an easy job, and Ken Jennings and Miyam Bialik would certainly be the first to attest to that fact. It would be impossible to expect perfection out of even the best hosts like Alex Trebek, and the producers have plans in place when these little flubs do happen.
Producer Sarah Whitcomb Foss recently revealed the process for correcting mistakes on the show’s companion podcast, saying, “Of course they make mistakes; we are human, they are human,” Foss said. “Basically, we tell our contestants to go off of the game board, so no matter what the host says, knowing that the clue copy is almost always totally correct, our contestants are asked to go off that material.” (via TV Insider)
“Of course they make mistakes; we are human, they are human. Basically, we tell our contestants to go off of the game board, so no matter what the host says, knowing that the clue copy is almost always totally correct, our contestants are asked to go off that material.”Sarah Whitcomb Foss, Jeopardy producer, on host mistakes
In other words, if a Jeopardy! host reads out the question wrong, which can obviously lead to some confusion, but the contestants should be reading the question off the board for 100% accuracy regardless. Foss went on to explain what they do when other mistakes happen, such as technical issues when a video doesn’t pop up for a video clue. Foss said that in those cases, they would just replace the clue altogether.
It’s definitely interesting to learn the inner workings of a hugely-popular gameshow like Jeopardy! and how they keep things running smoothly behind the scenes. Another interesting tidbit was the practice of “pick-ups,” which Foss says they sometimes have to do in-between rounds. “Pick-ups” happen when the host accidentally reads a line or answer wrong, and they’ll have them re-record the line for broadcast.
Buzzy Cohen, who is a former champion and the co-host of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast, brought up some examples of his own flubs when he filled in as a guest host. Such as the time he accidentally read part of the response while reading the question. When that happens, they have to stop the recording altogether and replace the flubbed clue with a new clue.
If a Jeopardy! host accidentally gives away the answer, the taping stops, and resumes with a replacement clue.
Foss was quick to reassure Cohen that even the late, great Alex Trebek would make those kind of mistakes on rare occasions, saying, “He would laugh, and it would give us one of those genuine Alex out-of-character moments where he wasn’t the consummate professional.”
While Jeopardy! fans can be harsh with their criticisms of the current hosts, Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings, it’s easy to forget that hosting the show and replacing Trebek, who did it for many years, is no easy feat. Undoubtedly, there are going to be times when a host makes a mistake if they’re reading multiple questions and answers multiple times per week in a high-stakes situation.
New Episodes Of Jeopardy! Are Ending Soon
Jeopardy! is currently finishing up Season 39, and host Ken Jennings will be finishing out the season, which wraps up on July 28th. While the Writer’s Guild of America strike is ongoing, Jennings controversially decided to finish out the season since the clues for the new episodes had already been written.
The Season 40 of the show is set to start back up in September, but it is possible that it may end up being delayed if the Writer’s Guild of America strike is still happening at that time.